Journal of a Photographer

2010/06/07

What’s easy/What’s hard

Filed under: on the job, personal, photography — Tags: , , — admin @ 18:53

When I look back on my photographic career (whether I look a day, a month, or even years back), “what’s easy” and “what’s hard” hasn’t changed.

What’s easy
This is a no-brainer: it’s the photography, of course! (I wouldn’t be much of a photographer if this was the hard part). I love it all; every bit of it inspires, excites, and energises me. I should be very clear on this though: to me, “photography” isn’t just the actual shooting, it’s also the planning and the post-production; it’s everything I go through to create my images.

The planning stage is tons of fun: whether I’m preparing for a commercial product shoot in my rather compact studio, meeting a couple before their wedding, or discussing creative challenges with a whole team before an in-the-field fashion/portrait shoot. This is a great time, when anything is possible. It’s great working with clients and creative partners at this stage, brainstorming over paper, pencil and coffee(s).

Shooting, well I’m one of those photographers who really gets lost in the creative process (I often have to remind myself to take breaks, if only to give anyone else working on the shoot a rest :-) Sometimes I’m hired to teach a new creative, and I’m fond of talking about “transparency”, when the technical bits (cameras, lenses, lights) become invisible and it’s all about capturing what you see (or create!) in front of you. The “technical bits” are just your medium of expression, they are only there to help you make real the image you have in your mind, and should never hinder! (this requires mastery of those technical bits, of course; this is a continual process, and something else fun, to boot!).

Once the shoot itself is all done, it’s time for the post-production. Those who know me well can tell you that I am desperate to “get it in one”: I want to capture the perfect, polished shot with a single click of the shutter. I consider this the ultimate expression of the craft: you create the perfect scene, and capture that moment in one shot. I’m not quite there yet… I should point out that I came to photography from a graphic and interactive design background, where high-level Photoshop skills are merely a starting point. When I’m shooting, I will often see the scene in front of me as one element in a composition, ready to be put together (“comped”) with other photos to create a final image. It’s a bit of a curse, as I do aspire to the “one perfect shot”, but I can’t deny that it’s a useful skill :-) It can be a lot of fun creating an impossible image, usually for commercial use, from a series of source photos (the most I’ve ever used is 96, defnitely a strain on my poor computer!). Of course, this skill can be a life-saver when it comes to that infinitely variable subject: people. When you’ve shot that once-in-a-lifetime group photo and someone always seems to be blinking, looking the wrong way, giving the “wrong expression”, or even not being there at all, being a dab-hand with Photoshop can make all the difference.

I still want to get it in one shot though :-)

What’s hard
I started this entry because I’m finally working on the “Portrait” section of my website (and it now occurs to me that writing my blog is a particularly effective procrastination method!). I’ve got to populate this section of my online portfolio, which entails the agony of choosing, from my own catalogue, a representative selection of photos (a process I’ve already gone through for the other sections of my site, and it hasn’t gotten any easier).

Why “agony”? (that’s a pretty extreme word, isn’t it?). Well, I suffer from the handicap of being a creative-perfectionist: I love creating (I really do!) but, when I’ve had time to come down from the rush of the shoot, I rarely think that my work is up to standard (it doesn’t help that I am always looking at the work of many frankly amazing photographers, I am continually and simultaneously inspired and dismayed, in equal parts, LOL!). _During_ a shoot I am filled with the creative urge, it’s a natural high, and all is right with the world. _After_ a shoot (even after the post-processing), I am a little embarrassed to admit that it’s the flaws in my images that I most easily see. I see this as a sign of immaturity, which means there is hope for me yet! (I’m even growing into the belief that being able to review and pick from my own images is a valuable skill, yes yes it is!! ;-)

Uh oh, I think I’m finished this post, that means I’ve got to go back to choosing photos (it’s ok, it’s a learning process… it’s a good thing, yes yes, it is!)

Chas

—– an on the road post

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3 Comments »

  1. Hi Charles,
    I was speaking to your Dad yesterday at a forever launch, and we got on to photography as I work as a semi pro, mainly with weddings and portraits. I was interested to see your work which I may add is stunning. I love your fashion stuff although all of it is great.
    I have been doing digital for a couple of years and there is so much to learn in photo shop.

    I’m getting there slowly. Have you got any advice on lenses for fashion and portraiture. I have an 85mm 1.8 at present and average 24-70 zoom for my D3. I’m not sure what else to invest in.
    Warm Regards Verity Assad

    Comment by Verity Assad — 2011/11/12 @ 13:40

  2. The other day, while I was at work, my sister stole my apple ipad and tested to see if it can survive a twenty five foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My apple ipad is now broken and she has 83 views. I know this is totally off topic but I had to share it with someone!

    Comment by Cut-taux Nike Jaune — 2015/09/23 @ 09:43

  3. This is a great website, will you be interested in doing an interview about how you developed it? If so e-mail me!

    Comment by Obtenga su fresco Climacool 5 Amarillo Negro Hombres Entrenamiento — 2015/09/23 @ 10:05

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