Monday, December 26, 2011


Photoshop - love it or hate it, it's definetly a game changer.

The shot above shows a shot I took recently, with the first one being out of camera and the second one showing after I decided my work in PS was complete.  I would not classify myself as a PS expert, but I've learned and practiced enough of it by now to realize I can afford to post very few unretouched photos as examples of my work.  It's just a given in the world of fashion/beauty image creation.

I didn't start off with this point of view.  The first few models I shot were posted without any retouching at all (you can still find some of them on my Flickr stream).  My reasons were not based on any purist religion, nor any well thought out strategy.  It was mostly a matter of my not having any suitable software (LightRoom or Photoshop), and not being interested in investing the time to learn them.  But I eventually came to understand that this is part of the image creation process - akin to working in a digital darkroom.  It was only a matter of time before I came around.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Pleasant Surprises

I had kind of a strange experience last weekend.  I have my twin girls on alternate weekends, so can only do model photo shoots on the weekends I don’t have them (and, yes, I have a “day job” so can’t normally shoot on weekdays, either).  Last weekend was one in which I had my girls, so wouldn’t have been able to shoot except that on the holiday – Labor Day – I wouldn’t have them and could do a shoot.  I had planned this in advance, and was going to do a shoot with one of my favorite models (she shall remain unnamed here…).
I had made preparations on several fronts, including purchasing some wardrobe items I knew would look especially flattering on her, and getting some props for the shoot.  I did my usual conversion of “home into photo studio”, which is a fair amount of work.  So I was all ready for the shoot, but in the morning as I logged onto my computer, I saw a message from her telling me she suddenly realized she had to go to a family barbeque that day, and could not shoot.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Back in the Saddle!

Just settling down for a latte and the chance to write a bit here.  I mentioned in a recent post that I hadn't had a photo shoot for a couple of weeks.  In fact, I hadn't had a "good" shoot for something like six weeks.  That's all changed today, after having a shoot yesterday  The shot above here is from yesterday's set (pretty much an "as shot" picture).  On top of having some great shots, I had that special dividend of encountering a really special person along the path of getting the work accomplished.

Just like most any shoot I do, I was busy for several days before the shoot shopping for shoes, dresses, and props as ideas were coming to me specifically aligned to this model (Grace).  I have to admit I was a less enthusiastic than most of the time leading up the shoot, as a recent couple experiences with cancelations had really let the wind out of my sails.  But I'm really pleased with a lot of the images, and especially, with seeing the realization of some things I had been thinking about for some time. It's a great feeling to start of with this seed of an idea, and slowly piece together the implementation details, then finally find the right model who's going to pair up well with the concept.  So I'm feeling pretty good about this endeavor once again.

One of the really cool things that happened in leading up to this shoot was related to pulling off an idea, and like I've said before, encountering some wonderful people along the path.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Down Time

There's something a bit awkward about blogs.  It's a combination of a personal journal, a work of reflection and personal insight, and yet it's public to whatever extent anyone cares to read it.  Because of that, there's a tendency to write "positive" things, stuff that will help others to feel you're on top of everything, and everything's going well for you.  I haven't written in a few weeks, partly because I haven't been feeling totally on top of everything.  I haven't felt like writing here, because I just haven't felt as positive about things as I generally am.  But here goes - I'm writing and everyone will know that I'm a human being, complete with flaws, doubts, and all those weaknesses we're all harboring to one degree or another.

Actually, when I make this point, it's specifically with respect to photography that I'm feeling a struggle these recent days.  (Yeah, my car did break down today, but that's kind of a separate matter...). 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Which Shots are the Best?

Ever wonder which shots of yours (assuming you're a model, photographer, or other photographic arts participant) are the best?  Maybe there is some proven recipe that's documented between the covers of some photographer's bible somewhere, but that's still undiscovered by myself.  So, how do I, determine which are my best shots?  This entry is not an undertaking to answer that question, but rather an opportunity to ponder the question and muse about the factors that weigh in on the consideration.  We're all faced with the decision in one way or another, and it would be interesting to hear how others approach this question.

One of the things I've learned fairly early on is that rarely do people (observers, viewers) have agreement about what is "best", or even on what looks pleasing to the eye.  People are all over the map.  I have shown pictures to friends and acqauintances, usually some shot I'm pleased with in one way or another, and noticed that people's reactions are anything but predictable.  Some will say it's great, others will indicate they don't think the model is that pretty, some are bold enough to tell me flaws in the photo (ouch, but it is helpful to learn from), others don't say much at all.  The takeaway for me is this: I have to decide for myself what is pleasing in my own eye.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Uncharted Destination

Sometimes having to feel our way along the path leads us toward an opportunity to discover something new, spurring our creativity in unforeseen ways.  Like many aspects of my work, it's this adventure that's one of the most rewarding dividends.

Just came back from doing a shoot yesterday.  It had been a fairly prolonged interchange of emails and endless text messages, working out a date and time for the shoot with Pang so I was glad to finally have it all set.  We were hoping to shoot at my studio (well, I was), or near my home where I have many spots eyed out for location shoots, but in the end she could not get the car to drive down to my area.  She lives about two hours drive from me, and in a an area I had not rightly explored - in fact, I'd never been to that city.  It was a question of going to her location, or not working together this weekend.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Photoshoot Hangover or Postprocessing Blues

So, I've just finished a photoshoot with a model, it's been a blast, she's gorgeous, been extremely cooperative and inventive, and now comes the really fun part - uploading the files to the computer and taking a closer look.  If possible, I like to do this with the model present, because I love seeing and hearing her reaction as we look through the pics together.  It's always a case of her (and me) being super excited as we sift through them.  Actually, this part of the "workflow" is like Christmas to me.  It is so much of a rush to open the pics, and see them in all their glory.  It's like being a kid and opening presents on Christmas morning.  Really!  I don't think that feeling will ever fade away for me.

But soon afterward comes the part that, to me, isn't so much fun.  It's kind of like having a hangover after a late night of drinking and having too much fun.  That's right - the post-processing phase.  It starts with getting organized in the filing system, adding my metadata, making two backups, etc.  That's the easy part, actually.  The hard part (or maybe I should say time consuming, and somewhat like drudgery) is sorting through 500+ photos to pic the best, then narrowing it down so a handful of shots I'll actually do detailed editing on.  Then, finally - editing them.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Would I quit?

I haven't been shooting models for very long, at least compared to many other photographers.  It's been a bit over a year since my first "model" photoshoot.  Since that time I've probably done 25-30 photoshoots.  I know I'll look back someday and realize how this really is just geting started, even though I do put so much effort, creativity, and energy into every shoot.  Also, despite not having done this for a long time, I feel it's become part of my existence, part of who I am, and the desire to keep creating is a life-giving force to me.  That's was pretty much the extent of my awareness of this pursuit's "hold" on me until fairly recently.

Since I'm a single man, I had not had to give much thought to what some potential partner's reaction to all this might be.  However, a couple months ago I did have a string of dates with one particular woman - not a model, but just someone I dated for a bit.  She became aware of my photographic interests fairly soon into our knowing each other, and it was quite obvious she was not comfortable with the idea, even as she visibly stiffened when I mentioned it, and tried to explain why it was an interest to me.  Her first pre-judgment was that this was somehow involved with sexual impropriety, or something along those lines.  She hadn't even seen any of my work, and she was already dismissing this as something unacceptable.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Falling in Love

I wonder if other photographers have had the feeling of "falling in love" with their models before.  I know it might sound a little bit silly, but as I was reflecting on my own feelings around the time of a photoshoot (before, during, and after) I think it's not such a far-fetched notion.  I can understand how these kind of feelings would emerge. 

How could that be?  On the surface the entire episode is grounded in nothing more than externals: appearances and even heavily produced and edited to elicit a desired effect.  Ah - but what is that desired effect?  I suppose it's different depending on the photographer, but for me one of the things I try to create is a hunger, a thirst, in the viewer that is left somehow unquenched.  So, if this is really the end product, perhaps it's not so surprising that I can fall under the intoxicating effects of my own "drug".  Maybe this is like the occupational hazards a bartender faces...

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Paralysis and No-shows

I have time to write in my blog today, although it was a little bit unexpected.  That's because I had a photoshoot planned which ultimately got scuttled by a model no-show - the veritable "flaking out" phenomenon.  Maybe she didn't really flake, but we had scheduled the shoot one week back, and I set aside time accordingly.  She had not returned a follow up email I sent earlier this week, but I knew she was travelling so didn't see that as cause for alarm.  However, when I called her yesterday evening to confirm, she did not answer the call and did not return it.  At that point I became paralyzed - were we on or not???

(By the way, these photos are just here for your enjoyment. This model has nothing to do with this topic.  :)).

What is someone in her position thinking?  Well, I should say that I'm willing to consider the possibility that she had an unfortunate occurance in her life, and due to the dire circumstances was unable to contact me to set things right by properly cancelling or postponing.  So I will allow for that possibility.

That said, I will go ahead and share my thoughts on this subject.  Maybe it will give some model, who might read this, pause before she could consider bailing on a modeling appointment without providing due notice.