PREP BEFORE YOU STEP
Check Out, Check Two
I’m getting ready to head out and shoot some Family Portraits later today. As with any shoot, before I walk out the door I take time to go through my gear, see what I have, what I might need, and pick the right tools for the job. After that it’s battery checks, flash testing, and card formating. Oh, and Meg helps me gather props! Here are two of the props we will have. We will also have a blanket and a rug to lay out, and of course bubbles! With children it is so helpful to play/interact with them while you shoot. No one, much less a child, really wants to sit still on a beautiful day (photos or not!). Interaction is the name of the game. If everyone is having fun then it will be reflected in the portraits. Also, remember that the camera is in someways a mirror. It will reflect the photographer. If you are having fun, being loose, and joining in the fun, your photos will show it. This is also why it is important to know your camera and your gear. You want it to be second nature so that the “tech stuff” gets out of the way (but that is a whole other topic we will save for another day). With kids, it’s best not to just try to tell the story, but rather be apart of it. Look for the photo set coming soon.
This morning I was reading at a coffee shop. The book was Joe McNally’s brilliant exposé on flash lighting techniques, Sketching Light. Having read two of his other books, The Moment It Clicks and The Hot Shoe Diaries, I would have to say this is Joe’s masterpiece thus far. It is an expansive wealth of knowledge when it comes to both large and small flash techniques. On top of that, it is incredibly refreshing to read a book on something so technical, yet written in is such an accessible tone. Through his books (as well as his online presence at www.joemcnally.com/blog/) Joe McNally is seemingly one of the most down to earth, practical photogs I have ever seeked to glean knowledge from. One day I hope to pass on knowledge, wisdom, and technique in the same manner as he does. To say my vocabulary and understanding of the mechanics of visual language has grow since picking up one of his books two years ago would be an understatement.
“We are not the thing. The story is the thing. The viewer is the thing. We are just the vessel, a conduit.”
Why we do this
Today this group of four short sentences really got me thinking. Why do we do this? Not even limiting that question to photographers, but even applying it to humanity in general. Why do we do most of anything? If you really examine it, I think the reason we do most things is for the sake of story. To be able to pass on a piece of our story to someone else. To create something in our lives that makes other wish to be apart of our story. To experience a life that leaves an impact on the stories we share with those we love. This is why Photography has won me. This is why out of all the different mediums of art, I am most compelled to make photographs. As a photographer I seek to accomplish this in a simple rectangular frame. As Joe McNally puts it, “We live to tell stories, to experience, and then to communicate that experience.”
P.S. - Watch This
If you have some time, checkout Joe McNally’s youtube channel. Short chunks of good stuff.
Captivated By Wonderment
While editing a recent wedding I came across this photo. It reminded me of what is was like to see things from the perspective of child. Everything is bigger, grander, and more exciting when we stop worrying about “life”. I’m not saying shirk responsibility, but I do think I would definitely benefit from being a little less self-aware. When I was a kid I definitely found it easier to “just be” and enjoy the world around me. I find this to be especially true as it relates to art. It is much easier, and way more enjoyable, to create strong photographs that tell a story when I am content. This allows me to put focus on who I am photographing and see the environment I am working on from a fresh perspective. I think Pablo Picasso got it right when he said, ”Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”
….after much procrastination I bought a softbox for my speedlites. While I’ve always seen the potential benefits of owning a softbox, I continually put it off saying I would “get by with what I had.” Now, this is not necessarily a bad attitude to have concerning gear, until it is. There are plenty of things I wish I could add to my bag of tricks that are simply not, 1.) affordable and 2.) practical. These are the two factor I consider when making a purchase. Would I like to own a sweet Canon 50mm f/1.2? Of course! But see that they cost $1,400 I will have to stay with the Canon 50mm f/1.8 ($100) or Canon 50mmf/1.4 ($350). Simple put, every item I add to my camera bag is a tool, bottom-line. Until my work demands that a certain tool is regularly necessary (and provides the overhead!) I will consider those tools a want, not a need. There are great sites to rent from like borrowlenses.com that offer great rates of cool toys for your photographic pleasure. I suggest you check ‘em out!
Style and Contrast
Ok, back to softboxes. I needed one, haha. My work mainly consists of portraiture and event photography. I like to shoot people. For a while I got by with using other methods for achieving my desired result for good portraiture. I used the lobbies of buildings that had giant windows, I would spontaneously ask to shoot when a nice overcast day appeared, I even created a “softbox” by combining a few silver handheld reflectors with a white shoot-through umbrella. While these where great exercises in creative problem solving, one of the marks of being a professional is being able to create the desired result every time, no exceptions, no excuses. In this case the result I desired what the look and style a softbox affords me to create. It’s matter of preferred style. Some people like harsh strobe light, others the wide diffused scatter of an umbrella, and some the style and pop of a beauty dish (which I am becoming more and more a fan of). For me, I tend to like my light big, diffused, and lots of it. With that being said. The softbox currently fits my needs more than other types of light shapers. While I look forward to finding more reasons to love other light shapers, I am happy to welcome the softbox into my family of gear.