Saturday, April 26, 2008

Wedding photography again

On the swings. Click on the image to see a larger version.

The radiant bride. Click on the image to see a larger version.

I had stopped shooting weddings and now I'm back at it again. Never say never again.

There's something really wonderful about sharing these life changing precious moments with people. In a way its a gift to be able to record and document the couple's special day.

And then when you deliver the wedding book and see everyone in the family pouring over the over it, tears of emotion and joy in their eyes and they want to give you hug - what more reward do you need for your work.

As wedding photographers the images we produce become part of family history. In the same way that you and I look back at photographs of our grandparents and great grandparents, in generations to come people will look at our wedding pictures and wonder about the people in them. The photographer will be long forgotten but our images will continue to touch and intrigue.
Wedding photographers have an awesome responsibility. We have to capture the spirit of the day in a modern exciting way that suits the style of the couple and yet has the gravitas to stand the test of time. Our images have to be authentic and meaningful as well as creative, exciting and interesting.

We combine studio lighting techniques with on the spot photojournalism, portraiture and we apply the creativity of an advertising photographer, and there's absolutely zero chance of doing a re-shoot. It's high pressure, its exciting and it genuinely affects peoples lives.

I'm looking forward to the next one.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Attention to detail

Spurn Point sea defences. Click on the image to see the larger version.

Sometimes you see a great shot on the net. You know instantly the moment you see the thumbnail. In anticipation you click on the thumbnail and as the larger version displays you get hit by a feeling of intense disappointment.

The picture is not sharp in the right places, there are dust bunnies or some areas have been badly cloned or manipulated. And you think, damn it! What a waste. This has got potential. If only the photographer loved their image as much as I like it. If only they had put a bit more care into the way they worked on it and paid attention to every detail.

We've all come across people doing their jobs who have that, "I can't be bothered, I don't really care, it's not worth the effort" attitude. I don't understand it. My motto is, "If it is worth doing then it is worth doing properly."

In my experience one of the biggest differentiators between an average and a brilliant photographer is attention to detail. If you get all the small things right then the big things take care of themselves.

If you as a photographer feel the slightest niggle about something in your image that is not working then you'd better do something about it because that's what people are going to see and lock on to. That tiny problem in your image is all that they will see.

Go for perfection every time. Make each image better than the one before it.

I sincerely hope that I've inspired you to take even more care of your images.



Saturday, April 05, 2008

There are two types of photographers

Spurn Point lighthouse. Please click on the image to see the larger version.

There are two fundamentally different approaches to photography. Identifying which type of photographer you are could help you focus your approach and remove inner creative conflicts that you were not even aware of.

You have to ask yourself whether you prefer observing and capturing what you see happening in front of your lens or do you prefer to control your subject matter and direct the action to produce the result you envisage?

Once you decide which type of photography best suits your temperament, creative approach and mindset you can focus your energy on playing to your strengths. Don't struggle against your nature. Go with it.

The split between the two fundamental approaches is of course as old as photography itself. On one side we have the photojournalists, documentary photographers, street photographers and landscape photographers out to capture that special moment. And on the other side we have commercial, studio, advertising, editorial and artist photographers seeking to control every aspect of the final image.

Of course you have a complete spectrum of photographers who do both but I think everyone, if they honestly examine themselves, will ultimately have a preference for one side or the other.

You should acknowledge which side your heart is on and then turn that into your strength. However there is a proviso. By exploring the other side and using the knowledge you gain you can enhance your photography. For example a photojournalist can benefit from using a bit of off-camera flash to improve the image or an advertising photographer can get something new and fresh by allowing an element of spontaneity on a photo shoot.

The above covers capturing the image. Post production using software or in the darkroom is a different realm. There everyone tries to get their image to radiate quality and beauty.

So have you decided which type of photographer you are? Remove the clutter and frustration from your creative process. Do what you want to do, recognise where your creative strength lies, and make every image better than the last one.

I hope that if you feel in conflict with yourself when you read this article you will feel a weight lifting from your shoulders and you will be liberated to pursue your authentic creative vision with renewed passion.

Till soon,