Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Make Old Images New Again With Post Recomposing

Make your old images new again by recomposing and cropping.

One of the gifts of digital photography is being able to edit and continuously change original captures. I've found that shifting the perspective of the viewer by recomposing an image in post processing is a great way to spark new life into what might be an uninteresting image. In totality some pictures might be okay. But by recomposing an image you get to view it in an entirely new way. 

Depending on the results, a basic image can take on a completely different mood. A poorly composed shot might be reframed into a great shot in post-production. Take the following image; a gorgeous woman and a fair picture. However, by changing the point of focus you gain a completely different perspective by zooming and magnifying different areas. In the recompose on the right, you focus more on her gorgeous facial features and transform a basic image into what might be considered a beauty

Before you throw it out reconsider the advantage of recomposing an image. However, make certain that your image can withstand the resize. This depends on several factors; resolution, resampling, object type, clarity, and exposure being chief among them.

Most importantly, be certain that your are within your rights to modify, edit, or manipulate the image. Just because it's you doesn't mean you have the right to edit it. This depends largely on copyright ownership and usage rights often between the photographer and the subject. It being in your possession doesn't necessarily make it yours. In fact, in most cases it isn't the subject photo in the strictest sense of copyright ownership so be careful.

If you're the photographer then you probably know based on your model release or some other agreement. In any event, it's a great way to make something new from something old.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Clients/Models that Require Escorts

This will continue to be a huge issue far after this post has been read. It has been talked about, read about, argued over and debated in forums all across the Internet and beyond. I may as well chime in and express my opinion of models that require escorts to their photo shoots as well as the photographers that allow and disallow them. 
First let me express that I cannot condemn anyone for doing what they feel is in their own best interests. Chief among those interests being personal protection and safety. I cannot possibly know what past actions and/or inaction compels a person to such extreme measures and I feel that everyone must do what they feel is best. Your safety should be your primary concern and I respect that position. 
Let me repeat the aforementioned conclusion, I respect the position of requiring an escort to the photo shoot but I do not agree with it. I am first and foremost a professional and any such action that implies that I am anything but a professional photographer or businessperson is insulting. You don’t go to a job interview with an escort. Models do not go to agencies with an escort. You would be escorted out and rightfully so. This isn’t a game, it is the real world and any such action toward me would be regarded as highly offensive. I am even offended by what such a thing implies. It says that any photographer is a potential sex offender. That's a horrible message to be sending a professional whose only goal is to have a creative exchange. What kind of message would I send if I assumed every client was a gold-digger out looking for a lawsuit so I must have two escorts onset one male and one female? Would you not be offended that I thought you were a trouble maker ready to launch false allegations for money or attention? Not nice is it?   
Additionally, escorts are extremely distracting. Many photographers have said that the escorts often intervene in the process, giving instructions to the models and even telling the model over and over that you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. Some even walk on the set and try to jokingly show the model how to pose or frowning when something doesn't agree with them. Your client/model will sometimes ignore your instructions and look for reactions from their distracting escorts. Often times, it has been proven that the escort was the offender.
You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to and you shouldn't need someone to remind you of that. If you do then you’re not ready to model nor are you ready for any job in any profession for that matter. We (professionals) assume that any legal person of sound mind and judgement has the faculties to do and not do whatever they wish to. Statistically speaking the legally recorded instances in which a model was assaulted or threatened were extremely low to near none existent as compared to any other profession. In fact, such evidence suggests that offensive behavior is more common in an office environment than practiced by a photographer. Furthermore, any such concern might be addressed by doing your due diligence by taking some personal responsibility and ask for a couple of references of past clients. Just as an employer would as for a reference on a prospective employee you have the option to do the same as does the photographer. In most instances, an offender has established a pattern of misconduct on sets that would be made evident by checking one or two references. 
If you’re modeling for fun, most photographers would much rather pass you over if you hold such a stipulation as a deal breaker. If you’re seeking out or considering modeling as a profession then you’ve already failed because no agency is gonna sign an amateur if everywhere you must go and every shoot requires that you have an escort. 
This practice is very common among “Internet models.” Internet models are generally considered “fly by night” individuals who incorrectly say they are models but are usually just someone who just wants to pick up a bit of extra cash because someone said they were cute. They have no representation or have been rejected by agencies for some reason or another so they inflate their self-importance by a demand of what they will and will not do. Be a professional and just post your stats; height, dimensions, hair color, eye color, ethnicity, etc. More importantly, put up your past work (some but not all) and a couple of references if you have any. You will get more work that way. Any more information than that is considered by most professionals as damaged goods. Once you know and understand the shoot parameters and you're uncomfortable then do the professional thing and respectfully decline.
Some photographers may consider reasonable accommodations. I don’t mind a client or model checking in with a friend every few minutes or during breaks. Text or call a standby frequently and let them know how the shoot is progressing and that you’re okay.  Even on my side of the coin I am often accompanied by my wife who sometimes serves as an assistant. But even when my wife, other assistant, an mua or stylist isn't available you can bet that I "discreetly" make certain that someone knows the who, what, when, where and how of that day. But it never comes to no way will you ever step foot on set without a bodyguard or my lawyer. It just sends a bad message and creates a negative tone for what could be a great working relationship.
Don’t walk up saying what you will and will not do before we even meet or before we’ve even established the parameters of the shoot. I’ve often read “I will not do any free shoots.” Guess what? Officially nor will I but I have made and continue to make exceptions. Consider if the editor of Vogue called and wanted a cover shot of you. As a model or even a wannabe would you be ignorant enough to turn that down if it were volunteer only? Think of the exposure and press. I think not. What if Gisele B. called me and I said that I needed an escort? What do you think she'd say?
You do not always know who your photographer, model or designer is or will become. Jason Wu began designing doll dresses. Now he’s one of the world’s leading high fashion designers. Would you have refused to try on a dress for free should he have invited you to do so because he felt it may have looked great on you? But what if you said you have to have an escort and young professional Wu is trying to start a fashion business? What would he have thought of you? Of course you wouldn't have in hindsight. But what if it had been before he became the Jason Wu you know?

A garage startup may eventually become head photographer for Vogue, Elle or GQ. Look at each others portfolios and decide if you each have something to contribute. Otherwise, leave your drama at home. We don’t need your jealous boyfriends or girlfriends, your BFF, or your kids on the set disrupting a professional and creative interchange. Check references and above all else retain professionalism. If this doesn't sit well with you, the next time you have a job interview to a place you've never been tell them you're bringing an escort that will sit in on the interview and see where that gets you. Life is an interview if you haven't noticed.
Don’t take any of this as a reason to not protect yourselves or believe that I do not want you to. As I mentioned, I respect the position to decline a shoot where an escort is mandatory. I applaud anyone willing to take reasonable accommodations at making sure they are safe and protected. I will always respect and often accommodate some measures to insure that a client or model is safe. However, I’d prefer you leave your past and your drama at home and not on set. Time is certainly a great deal of money for a photographer and equipment cost are even more. I’m here to work and make something unique and creative from which I and the client/model will benefit. It's really just common sense when you get down to it.

Always err on the side of caution but leave the accusations implied or otherwise at home.

Monday, February 13, 2012

"A Hush Darkly"

This image was berthed from a bit of creative self-indulgence. I wasn’t quite sure where I was headed with it. But I knew I was there the moment it was complete.

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It derived from a composite of several merged images and from using a proprietary split-toning technique that I dreamed up a few months ago. There are at least 50 more steps I won’t go into but I am very pleased with the results.

I titled this piece “A Hush Darkly.” I have my own motivations and meaning but I have shown it to four different people and each of them have had different interpretations from light angelic to a sense of psychological detachment taken from the illusion of a person being torn from themselves. At least that’s what some people see.

Each will have their own interpretation and perhaps someday I will reveal it’s true meaning. But such is art; inspire, imagine, incite, stir and calm.

It will drive you madd if you continue to stare. Your mind wants you to understand and your eye will continue to search for a point of focus to make sense of what is happening. The answers are there but you must not force yourself to see it. You have to accept it just as it is and in time the answer will be revealed in a swift revelation of awareness.

This is part of the canvased "Chaos" series. More images will be coming soon. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Photographer’s Psychological Perspective on Photographing Nudes

Many years ago when I was approached for the first time about photographing a nude I wasn’t quite sure what to think. I was flattered of course and I’d always possessed a high appreciation for fine art nudes whether it be a painting, a photograph, an abstract or whatever the case. Art was and is chief among my many passions. But to photograph a nude was new territory at the time.
I wasn’t intimidated for a second. I was more interested in whether or not I had come to a point of self discipline to take it serious. I thought I would treat it like any other photo assignment; focus on the work and the artistry and not on the subject. But it was so much more than that. It was and is so much more intimate and requires such a high degree of trust and sharing. 
Unlike other photography where you can psychological remove yourself from your subject and believe that it’s just a block of wood as much as it is a man or woman, nude photography is delicate, private and passionate all the same. It requires an appreciation and respect for the trust you have engendered. I received a deep sense of satisfaction from the fact that someone is willing to reveal themselves to me on such a deep and personal level.

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There is nothing to hide behind; no makeup or prop. It’s purity at it highest height and I was immediately captivated by the sacredness of the moment - not for the brashness or daring of it and certainly not for money or vanity, but for its love and sincerity. It is true and promising with such magnificence that artists of all sorts have come to be enchanted by the human body over the ages. Capturing the nude is a precious and delicate moment to be cherished and revered, not to be paraded or lusted over.

From that moment forward I was intoxicated by its purity and its majesty. How wonderful a form with such a splendid joining of fleshly waves and channels; both fragile in form but carved in strength, with a conviction and a surety that she feels safe, that she feels beautiful and she chooses to reveal herself to me only for the sake of sharing such a pure gift - the gift of herself unmasked. 
Now, many years later every shutter transition is still like the first one. The purity is still there. The trust and splendid-ness of sharing still reigns amid a sea of powerful peaks and soft flesh. There is  still beauty that I behold in the revelation and a truth in trust. You see it was more than being about being nude however splendid, but also about her belief in my character as a person. But it was not the person she saw as a budding artist, but more so the person she trusted to capture with light and shadow the vessel that harnesses her truest self.
More recently, I was told by a close friend and art nude subject that I love more than sunshine, “that a body is just a body.” That it is just a vessel to hold the real person. True, I believe it is that but also so much more. As a photographer, I see it as a testament to friendship, love and trust surrounded by a breathtaking and infinitely fleshly beauty. I cherish it, love it and respect all that it is and will become. Should a day come when I am honored to behold it once more, I shall revere and respect it even more as a covenant to the honor she has bestowed upon me.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

High Key Fashion Capture

It wasn't the original intent; that is, to do this capture in high key. But after seeing her in this bebe cocktail dress it became inevitable.

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Such phenomenal skin beckoning a white on white scene so as to keep the distractions minimal and focus chiefly on the model (as if that would be a problem); and do to such a nearly flawless caramel complexion, even against white on white that dress screamed with it's silvery highlights and accompanying silver heels.

This was a three light setup if memory serves and I didn't spend a great deal of time pining over the metering. Amazing how that happens; those on the fly captures giving even more than I could ever have imagined.

It certainly doesn't hurt that she's beautiful; being next to flawless. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Valentine's Day Photo Ideas

It's coming fast. Valentine's Day is but a few days away and I hope you have your thinking hats for some great gift ideas.

It is often touted as a holiday for women. But I believe it's simply because no one has asked guys what they want. Sure we're not all bent on chocolates and flowers or super long candlelit dinners. But all men love women. We love them even more when they're being spontaneous and seductively unpredictable.

So what exactly do we want? We want excitement, mystery and memories that makes us smile years later. All that and a good meal with some sleep and we're good to go.

The most sought after idea as of late are tastefully captured boudoir and lingerie pics in a beautifully bound folio book with glossy page after page of sugar and spice. Also, canvased prints are ever more popular and becoming increasingly more affordable; some from 8" x 10" up to 30" x 40." if you're super smart about it it will come across as a complete surprise when you surprise him/her.

I'm not condoning sending tasteless pics with your smartphone to the new boyfriend or girlfriend you met last week. I'm suggested something more tasteful and long lasting given to someone you've made a serious commitment. I don't think the man or woman, guy or girl you met yesterday or earlier this month qualifies. Funny how that works. I don't recommend it if you don't have a deep level of maturity in you, in your significant other and in your relationship as a whole.

Consider a boudoir or lingerie photo shoot. Or even consider a tastefully playful portrait with just a tinge of zest to make your significant other smile. It's 2012 folks; live a little.