Tuesday, October 26, 2010


A photographer can not expect to achieve their desired result if a great amount of attention is not paid to details.  I have made so many mistakes during different photoshoots.  It's much more noticeable if I make a mistake during a photoshoot, because I review the results much more carefully (compared to say, a photo of my kids or a travel snapshot), and often the same errant setting is carried over through an entire series of shots.  I hope I will someday learn to avoid these mistakes, but for now, I seem to still be in the learning mode.  An example is where I cranked up my ISO setting as daylight was fading, and then failed to turn it back down when I switched over to artificial light.  Argh!  I have to develop a mental checklist of things to keep cycling through: ISO, white balance, f-stop, etc.  These things need to be adjusted whenever conditions change, or the perspective emphasis changes, and it's easy to overlook this when our only avenue for review of the shot is on the camera's small display.  But there are other details, as well; I'm learning more about how that brings a big impact to the shot.

See that flower at the top of the page?  Perhaps you can recognize where it appears in one of my photos.  It didn't appear by accident.  The day of the shoot, I spent time walking around the main areas I planned to do the shoot, and made mental (followed up by written notes) of where I would position myself, the lighting, and the model.  I also made a list of different props I thought would add something to the photo.  Included in the list for this shoot was the flower shown here, some cran-grape juice (wine is redicuously expensive in Thailand), a wine glass, a Japanese girl's magazine, various pillows, and some necklaces.  That's on top of the wardrobe items, previously discussed (all the items in the shoot with Wanyberk were supplied by me).

I remember making my list a couple hours before the shoot, and then racing around the local Sukhumvit neithborhood pulling together all of the items.  The flower was one of several I purchased, and at the time of the shoot, I just looked at Ying (Wanyberk) and thought - "yeah, this is the one", and chose the flower you see here.  Looking at the shot now, I think that really made the photo sing.  It wasn't hard to come by the faux wine, as that was as far away are the nearest Seven Eleven (one on practically every corner in Bangkok).  The wine glass was a little uncertain, as I did not have one.  But I asked the good people at the hotel (more on the hotel later) if they happened to have a glass I could borrow (they knew by this point that I was doing photo shoots with models).  A few minutes after I asked them, the hotel manager knocked on my door holding up a choice of three different shaped wine glasses!  How wonderful these people were.

The one item I expected to have some difficulty acquiring was a Japanese girl's magazine.  I was planning to use this as part of a "schoolgirl" theme I had planned.  I stumbled upon an incredible bit of luck in this account.  I had noticed a used book store not far from my hotel, and in fact, it had labeled itself as an "international" used book store.  I entered the cramped quarters, the place stacked nearly to the ceiling with rows of bookshelves (I guess earthquakes are unheard of in Bangkok), weaved my way to the cashier and asked him if they had any Japanese magazines.  After some initial confusion, he led me to an incredibly diverst collection of such, and I found what I was looking for, costing me 30 Baht.  I was so delighted with my find.

Not all the items I acquired were used in the shoots, and some of them had more impact on the visual result than others.  The overall experience was probably the most valuable lesson for me.  I realized that this additional area of detail - conceiving of the type and use of props, as well as acquiring them - was yet one more key stepping stone in working my way towards producing something I could be satisfied with.  Getting one step closer to producing art.

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