If You Can See It In Your Mind, Can You Create It In The Camera?

It takes a long time to learn “how the camera sees” or understand the differences between how the camera sees,  as compared to the way our eyes see.  That difference gives us the ability to envision a portrait and then create that portrait in the camera.  This exercise used to take years, since the image created on a piece of film was the image that was printed on the paper.  While I wouldn’t go back to film, there was no faking your abilities or decided to put off learning, since there was no artwork or computer enhanced images.  You only had to hear your printer say, “you want a better print….give me a better negative!” so many times before you knew that the problem resided in you and your abilities.

The only way to learn how the camera sees is to take the images you create straight out of the camera and print them out.  If they are not 90% as good as the final portrait will be, you simply rely too much on Photoshop and the editing process.  We are photographers and create art in the camera and enhance it on the computer.  A graphic artist creates in the computer.  I am not bashing Photoshop, I love it!  It allows me to accomplish much more in less time than was possible using film.  If you learn to create or see the way in which the camera sees, you too will spend little time editing your images.

After you take a session, view your images printed out to an 8×10 size…at least some of them and don’t just pick out the best ones, but a true sampling of everything you did in the session.  Study those images to see how different the image looked from what you envisioned in your mind and even saw through the viewfinder.  Make notes about the problems you should have caught as you were creating the images…issues with lighting, posing, composition and camera angles.  Be real, getting better at your craft isn’t about lying to yourself to save your over-inflated ego.  If your work isn’t 90% as good as the finished product, you need to learn more, you need to be honest with yourself.

As you print out your work, without artwork and make notes about the shortcomings of what you create and you will hunger for improvement, which is the first step to taking action.  Once you start to see that the work you create is getting closer to what you envisioned, start showing others and ask for there comments.  Don’t ask your mom or Photo-buddies, ask people who will give it to you straight without trying to candy-coat it to save your ego.  The final step in the process is to start showing your images to your clients in the their viewing with no editing or enhancement.  This is the worlds greatest motivator for creative shooting, not creative “Photoshopping”.  When you can show a client an un-edited, un-retouched images and have them say, “that looks beautiful” you can say you are a master of your craft.  If you think it can’t be done, think again.  We photograph several thousand seniors each year and all of them view unedited, un-retouched images and our sales average are very high for the industry average.  It can be done, you just have to learn how!

Why…why go through all the work to learn how to create in the camera?  I go in the studio at 10am and leave about 5pm.  Other than my writing and work for my other businesses, I never take work home with me and we have no staff members working on images in the studio, (other than those in our lab).  The images are taken and ordered from on the day of the seniors sessions.  Only the images that are ordered from are sent to the lab for simple skin retouching and little or no enhancement, unless it is artwork to be billed to the client (removing braces, etc.).  My life as a photographer is a simple,  profitable one because I learned how to see as the camera sees and create my images in the camera, not the computer!

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~ by jeffsmithbooks on April 13, 2011.

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