October 25, 2011
Assuming that the photo is in focus and that one is taking a picture of something “interesting,” there is arguably no greater component to the photograph than lighting. Photographer Joe McNally refers to the “language of light” when discussing the way that lighting influences the mood and emotion of a photograph. I would go so far as to say lighting defines a photo.
When holding a camera in my hands (and often when not), I spend unhealthy amounts of time obsessing about the light, whether working with the available light or supplying my own. But every once in awhile, nature just hands it to you in perfect form. No assembly required. Just click and enjoy.
November 18, 2010
Somewhat random train of thought follows
One of the things that I – and I think many photographers – struggle with, is taking pictures that tell a compelling story. “Your Moments, Your Story, Your Life” is much more than my attempt at a clever tagline; it’s a philosophy that guides the way I shoot. Even so, whenever I’m shooting – whether an incredible wedding, a family portrait or just something for the grins of it – it can be easy to settle for taking what a “pretty picture.”
You know what I mean: we’ve all vacationed somewhere beautiful and come back with hundreds of uninspiring pictures of a beach that fail to come close to recreating the feeling of being there. Ooo – pristine blue waves lapping over white sand. Snooze. (I’ve shot thousands of these myself; that isn’t said in judgment of any one else. )
And there are certainly photographs that don’t necessarily “tell a story” but nevertheless inspire us. Maybe it’s the composition, the colors, the contrast, the lighting … something captures the eye and the imagination. My point isn’t to put down such pictures because I enjoy taking them myself.
I have a love/hate relationship with portraiture in part because so many portraits are booorrring. I gravitate towards documentary coverage because I feel it’s much easier to look at the resulting photos – even if they aren’t my best work – and feel like I am watching a story unfold in front of me. On the other hand, portraiture obviously allows us (photographer and subjects) the luxury of planning for and optimizing things like the lighting, the setting, arranging of the subjects and yes, even communicating a “story.”
Take this picture of my good friends Danny and Heidi and their adorable little boy, Cooper. Beautiful people, nice fall setting, favorable light. Bonanza, right?
Certainly not my worst work. But it’s also fairly unimaginative. There’s also no real story going on here, except that of a cute family cheesing it at the request of their unimaginative photographer.
Now how ’bout this one?
So. Cute! But maybe not the best portrait … we can’t really see anyone’s faces really clearly. What about this next one?
Real, spontaneous smiles! Love it!
Side note: I try to work such that I “pose” people in a natural way. I also often continue shooting even after the “posed” portrait has concluded, which in the case of working with babies, is three seconds … if I’m lucky.
Okay, next one – Cooper just has beautiful blue eyes. I had to show them off here.
See the progression? And these tend to be my favorite pictures, the kind that I’ll endeavor to shoot and feel most proud about when I get done and am clicking through them afterwards. I may start off “guiding” people with small, general instructions, but then allow the scene to unfold naturally. In this case, two happy, easygoing adults and their absurdly cute, happy baby boy make for pretty easy work.
And I looove shooting with babies because they are, even at Cooper’s age (about a year) more or less unaware of the camera. They’ll interact with their parents and their environment in a totally natural way.
Thanks for reading! And thank you, Danny and Heidi and Cooper, for a wonderful afternoon!
November 10, 2010
Elizabeth contacted me a little while back about shooting some portraits with her and her husband, Duminda. Hmm, fun people in front of a beautiful fall sunset? Twist my arm, why don’t ya?
I really enjoyed meeting and working with them both: here are a few of my favorites. Their dog, Tank, makes an appearance too!
Sometimes when you’re shooting on location, things jut don’t quite go quite as you envisioned them. Luckily Elizabeth avoided the worst of it!
Loved shooting with you both and I hope we’ll get the chance to get together again soon!
November 10, 2010
I first got to know Beth, Brian, Charlotte Rose, James and Georgia when my wife and I moved to Columbus early last year; they live next door to some of our best friends! I was very happy to shoot their “Christmas card” portraits this year but seriously, who needs an excuse to look this good in such a beautiful setting?
Charlotte Rose and James brought a lot of energy to this one and they personify the reason I love working with kids: sometimes you just have no idea what you are gonna get. The results were sometimes poignant and sometimes just funny. Following are a few of my favorites:
Beth actually had the concept for the below shot and I love it! One of the reasons why I always encourage any one I work with to voice their ideas!
Loved shooting with y’all and your beautiful family and I surely hope to do it again soon!