So many photographers in today’s digital world are in such a hurry to pick up a camera and start shooting, they plan very little in regards to what they are creating and what will be seen in the frame.  This is using the “throw the crap at the wall and see what sticks theory of Photography” and crap is typically what it produces.  You create in your mind not in the camera or in Photoshop. You plan what you are creating for an image to visually make sense.

To understand what I am talking about here, have you ever taken an image and it looked great to you, so great you printed a sample to show clients. After the images is on your wall or in your portfolio you start becoming less and less impressed with what you thought was a flawless image.  You start noticing things, the style and/or color of the clothing doesn’t really coordinate with the background, the pose really doesn’t fit the overall feeling of the portrait. While the lighting, posing background or scene look really good individually, they just don’t look good together.  This is a portrait that visually doesn’t make sense.

If you do your job as  a photographer you shouldn’t notice any one thing, but admire the entire portrait. If you see a portrait you have created and you notice a beautiful background, really cool outfit and amazing lighting, that means that one element is stronger in the image that everything else.  Young photographers do this all the time!  They send me an image to look at and say,  “look at that amazing background or that perfect natural light!” and yes the background and the light might look amazing, they look so amazing because the other crap in the portrait that isn’t sticking to the wall so well and looks terrible.  It makes the good part look great in contrast!

Good example, outdoor portraits taken with high power flash and the clouds.  The clouds look amazing, but typically the lighting on the person SUCKS!  Not to many people look good with a main light that is a reflector pumping out 1500 watt seconds directly in to their face.  This is a great concept if you are selling photographs of clouds, not so good if you actually want to sell portraits of people in front of the clouds! The lighting would be the crap on the wall that is not sticking so well, making the clouds look even better by contrast and the portrait would not visually make sense.

The idea is planning your client’s session and planning the portraits you create. I am not talking about spending hours in consultation and dreaming about “their space”  I am talking about using some preparation to create an image that is visually correct, instead of picking up a camera and spending all your free time fixing what wasn’t right in the first place. I personally start with the clients clothing, because that is the one thing I don’t have the ultimate control over.  You can tell your client what to wear, but in the end, you will often be surprised!

I help select the outfits we will use in the session, I then start planning everything else to coordinate with those outfits.  The color, style and overall feeling of the clothing is coordinated to the selections of backgrounds/scenes as well as the type of lighting and posing we will use.  Elegant dress, elegant background/scene, color/tone match to the clothing, traditional lighting with a glamorous touch, and finish with elegant posing.  Trendy outfit, simple background (often monochrome, tone to fit the tone of the clothing), fashion lighting (spot light, ring light,  butterfly lighting) and fashion pose. This isn’t rocket science but it is an important step in creating portraits that visually make sense. This is the creation process of a professional photographer that wants to make money using a camera instead of wasting time in front of a computer.



~ by jeffsmithbooks on September 18, 2010.

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