Black and White, Color, model photography, Photography, Portrait, portrait photography

Portrait Retrospective: Part 2

Pressing on with the portrait nostalgia roadshow! Images featured in this post are from the same session as the previous blog post. Mixing studio with more environmental portraiture is always fun. The model was also an aspiring singer and hoped to use some of the images for promotion as well. This was a bit before social media was such a thing.

I originally processed all of these as black and white. At the time I considered myself a “black and white photographer”. Still do, mostly. But I have incorporated color into my workflow more.

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model photography, Photography, Portrait, portrait photography

Portrait Retrospective: Part 1

I find myself in the midst of a bout of nostalgia. Reasons for it are obvious to me but beyond the scope of this blog so we will just cut right to the chase. I have a fondness for portraits. My initial motivation for getting involved in photographer was of two parts; an interest in the black and white photography as practiced by Ralph Gibson and others, and an interest in portraiture as practiced by Irving Penn and others. I make no claim that I’ve quite gotten to where I’d like in either milieu. However, I have come farther than when I started.

Recently, I re-processed some portraits from several years back and that started an entire thing so that now I’ve gone back about ten years and re-processed some of the older portraits I’ve taken knowing what I know now.

Of course, this exercise is concerned only with processing. The mistakes in lighting, exposure, and posing are…indelible. You can’t really save a photograph from mistakes of that nature. So, limited in scope but still of interest, to me at least.

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Wrinkled shirt…how you vex me.

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My choice of color palette has become more sedate.

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Originally most of this set was black and white.

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After this walk down memory lane, that will take up a few posts here, I’m thinking of capping things off with some very recent portrait work. Though by then my interest may have careened off on an unexpected trajectory.

Feel free to leave a comment or ask me (nearly) anything if you have a mind to!

Black and White, Color, Photography, Portrait, portrait photography

A Quick Portrait Session, Rustic Fun

The last few days have been rather busy. Nothing to complain about there. One of the highlights of that busy-ness was a quick and fun portrait session. Fall colors are not quite in full effect but the session was successful nonetheless. The young man I was to photograph was full of personality. Like most little ones it took a minute to warm up to this stranger with the weird contraption trying to get him to smile, but he was a trooper.

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The outdoor setting was a good compliment to his classic denim wardrobe. The addition of a favorite toy helped elicit a little more emotion and interaction. Unpredictability when photographing the little ones is alway an adventure, but a rewarding one.

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The challenge of being true to a child’s personality should never be taken lightly. When done well it produces a lasting testament and cherished memory. Delivering photos like these to appreciative parents is one of the best things about my photography.

TECHNICAL: Fujifilm XT-2 & XF 56mm f/1.2

Artsy, Black and White, Photography, Portrait, things seen

The Sketch Artist

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If I could draw or paint to any acceptable degree I probably wouldn’t be a photographer.

I’ve spent probably close to a year coming to grips with my color photographic work. I began with black and white film (Kodak Plus-X and Fuji Acros being favorites) and for a time really struggled with color work. Especially digital. I finally got to the point where I was comfortable enough…but if you are engaged in a creative pursuit you know “comfortable enough”, never is.

So I would work at it. I now think my color work is as strong as my black and white work. Usually.

At any rate, you can judge because the next post is all about some recent fine art work and features color in equal amounts to monochrome.

Color, depth of field, Everyday Life, Photography, Portrait, things seen, vacation

Every Day In Every Way…

The French psychologist Émile Coué developed the Coué Method,  a tactic of self-suggestion characterized by a mantra, “Every day in every way, I’m getting better and better.”, to be repeated daily multiple times as a means to self-improvement.

Taking some inspiration from the idea without commentary on the efficacy of the method I would like to suggest that something similar can be attempted with photography. Personally, I try to apply my full powers to all my photography. I don’t differentiate between professional work and personal artistic work, or snapshots with my loved ones on vacation.

To my mind photography is something I do, every time I have the camera in my hand I should be trying to achieve the best image. My goal is to always be working with the ease that comes with long practice, applying what I have learned about photography almost subconsciously. Eventually, if I work at it long enough craft and art will become the same thing whether I’m following a client’s directive, or photographing my niece’s birthday party.

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There is no shame in making every moment a moment of artistry. There is no shame in finding the exceptional in the most commonplace moments and things. An overwhelming part of leading an enjoyable life is the vantage point you observe from. I choose to opt for a life that finds the art in the everyday.

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Black and White, Photography, Portrait

Black & White Portraits

The portrait is fairly central to the idea of photography itself. It didn’t take long for the early photographic pioneers to turn their lenses toward their fellow men and woman in an attempt to capture something of the essential nature of the human spirit.

In any portrait, the goal is to form a connection between the subject, removed as they are, and the viewer through the medium of the print. The photographer is the bridge between the two, spanning the gap through technical and artistic prowess. Or so it is hoped.

Black & White Portraits

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Black and White, Color, depth of field, Editorial, Fine Art Photography, Photography, Portrait, Product Shots

Photographer: Never Stop Learning

It is 2017 and in these times it benefits a photographer, no matter what their particular niche is, to have a least a basic understanding of the skills and mindset necessary to undertake various types of photography. Being familiar with the skill-sets necessary for the various types of photography from portraiture, to street photography, to product photography does mean trying to be a jack-of-all-trades. The truth is that photography as a discipline often involves needing access to techniques that cross the various photographic disciplines.

I consider myself a fine art photographer, but understand that this incorporates many of the skills of the portrait photographer and the product photographer. There is a lot I can learn from being familiar and studying the lighting techniques of both. Doing so doesn’t dilute my aim, it only makes me a more capable photographer. Photographers are fortunate in that they can learn from a wide variety of artistic disciplines.

Product Photography

The product photographer must be a master of light. In order to present the product in the most effective and engaging way she must know what it takes to light in a way that seems natural, while also evoking a specific mood or atmosphere. What I as a photographer can take away from the tool bag of the portrait photographer is how I can manipulate light to draw attention to or away from elements of my image, and how different types of lighting can change the message of the photograph.

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Often the success of product photography lies in the ability to effectively use lighting equipment. Photography is dependent on the efficient use of equipment even at it’s most basic level; using your camera. Using lighting equipment, from the speedlights that most people have seen (wedding photographers, sports photographers, and paparazzi often come to mind), to larger and more powerful studio strobes, can seem daunting. Lighting ratios, power outputs, and all the rest can seem esoteric and mysterious causing many people to shy away from learning these skills. Such an unfortunate thing when artificial lighting can be such a powerful tool in your arsenal!

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Portrait Photography

It might seem that portrait photographers have it easier, but they really don’t. In dealing with photographing people there are a lot of different factors to consider;

  • Photographing the subject in a way that is technically efficient
  • Creating a photographic portrait that is emotionally engaging
  • Posing the subject in a manner that is natural (for them) and visually not awkward or tense
  • Crafting a portrait that is true to the subject
  • Attention to details that can ruin a portrait; hair/clothing out of place, poor background, etc.

This of course is in addition to the considerations of lighting even when shooting in natural light as a poorly or incorrectly lit portrait can mean failure, even if every other aspect of the shot is perfect.

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What I as a photographer can learn from the portrait photographer is an attention to detail, knowing how to make sure everything in the photography from the lighting to the posing to the photographer deciding where to stand work toward a harmonious whole. The success of the portrait photographer lies in balancing technical skill with the psychological skill of knowing both what the subject wants and what the viewer will find pleasing.

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Furthermore…

These are of course not the only two types of photographers that you can learn something from. There are landscape photographers, street photographers, architectural photographers, lifestyle photographers, the list goes on a while. And that’s a very good thing!

Some of these other disciplines deserve their own articles, but I want to leave you with the recommendation that you look at lots of styles of photography and even better try lots of different styles of photography. You might surprise yourself with how the skills you learn can be applied elsewhere.

Artsy, Fine Art Photography, Photography, Portrait

The Boxer

I do like an enthusiastic portrait subject. Playful, mercurial, easily bored; pretty much sums up the gamut of what you encounter photographing children. This was a session of a boy and his mother. In all a successful sitting but these in particular were my favorites as the young man ran through a full range of expressive gesticulations and pulled faces. A lot of fun!

THE BOXER

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NEXT UP: SOMETHING WITH STILL LIFE…MAYBE