With the advent of Instagram I am inundated daily with ideas and inspiration. Sometimes it smothers me and I feel like my work is less-than. Other times that inspiration feels uplifting and makes me want to go out and shoot.
As with any new piece of equipment I like to spend enough time using it so that when it comes time for a commercial job I am familiar with the issues and know how to overcome them.
It’s been a busy couple of weeks. I’ve started to scratch out a couple blog posts over the past month but each time I start a job comes up and takes precedence. This week I vowed to shoot for me. Shooting personal work keeps me sane. When I end up working on shoots for other people for weeks at a time I can feel the itch to go out and shoot a concept I have control over. Family portraits, TV commercials, architecture, Galas, receptions and pretty much every other paid job means my client is running the show. I often have creative input on my jobs but photographing people giving speeches and shaking hands doesn’t give me the satisfaction of going out and making great photographs.
Every photo my clients see gets edited in Photoshop. It could be as simple as an adjustment of the colors or contrast or a little dodging and burning but they all get a little love. The images in my portfolios and the final images I present to clients get a bit more love. This is the reality of professional photography. It’s not that what you see in magazines isn’t real, it’s that it’s a slightly improved reality. When I shoot head shots and portraits I like to tell my clients that I want the result of my retouching to look like they’ve just come off a week-long vacation and had the best night’s sleep in their life. I don’t set out trying to make a sixty year old look like she’s 40 (although one client had me take off a lot of years).
A few weeks ago I had a photo shoot with Amber. She’s an actor/model visiting Los Angeles from Miami. My goal with the photo shoot was to get simple relaxed portraits with a touch of beauty and emotion. I enlisted the help from Tiffany Toth to help with makeup. Amber took care of her own hair.
I didn’t want the wardrobe or lighting to overshadow Amber so we opted for simple wardrobe and mostly natural light with a hint of strobe for fill. I think these photos go to show that simple can be also beautiful.
The goal of the shoot wasn’t to shoot this type of portrait but I felt inspired enough to shoot a few frames before we went with the shoot as we had planned it. I started with a giant softbox but didn’t think being that close with that much in focus was flattering. I ditched the strobes and just used the light coming through the garage door with a sheet of foam core to bounce some light back. These shots were made at F1.2 so the depth of field is super shallow. The dept is so shallow that with her eyes in focus her eyebrow is already soft and out of focus. I liked them enough that I felt inspired to share. I’ll post more from the shoot later.