Posts Tagged ‘portrait’
My commercial portrait work has a definite vibe. It’s typically well lit; there a sense of emotion and I always want my subject to look beautiful. It’s a style I’ve fallen into over the years. When I first started out in photography I heard about the need to have a style, but didn’t know how to get one. Without knowing it, my style found me. In most cases when I am shooting portraits I want emotion over everything else. I want sexy and sultry yet still commercial.
Every once in a while I look at other photography and ask why cant mine look like that? I’m drawn to moody, uncontrived photos; very spur of the moment, filled with life or mystery. Sometimes I go out and deliberately try to shoot in a style that’s not my own. But there’s this force-field that pulls me back. My experience, knowledge and what I know resonates with the people I have photographed pulls me back to my comfort zone – well-lit and pretty.
This happened on my shoot with Taylor. I’ve known and been working with Taylor since 2006 . Unlike our previous shoots where I was driving the shoot, she called me with a concept that suited her needs as an artist and musician and the direction was out of my norm. When a client approaches me with a job that is a different style from what I do I always ask for reference photos. When I saw her reference images I thought quirky, edgy, snap-shots. Even though that’s not my style she felt comfortable enough to come to me with her concept knowing that I could take her input and produce photos that matched her goals.
A few years ago I made a slideshow using photos from every assignment I shot during the year. The idea stuck and has become a great way for me to reflect on what I did right and what I did wrong during the year. 2012 was both challenging and incredibly rewarding. All of those experiences brought one theme to the forefront – Family is Everything. And by family I’m not limiting myself to the family I was born into or married into. It’s the people that I have chosen to surround myself with. This year we have had the warm blanket of family wrapped around us when we needed it and we were able to be that same blanket of warmth and strength for others when they needed it. This year was life-changing for so many of our friends and loved ones.
Over the past couple years I’ve skipped using photos of my family in the slideshow, after all they weren’t paid assignments and so many were just snapshots. This year I’ve included them because my wife and kids are my world and are definitely the most photographed subject in my life. I also opted to include more than one image from the assignments. Limiting myself to one single image per shoot didn’t represent the scope and the fruits of my labor.
As with every slide show I always struggle with music. Each year I want to use a song that I fell in love with during the year. This year there were a couple of contenders.
Mumford & Sons – I will wait
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – Thrift Shop I dare you to not bounce your head while listening to this song. I was bouncing my head for a couple weeks before I even listened to the words.
Ryan Adams – From The Ashes In January NPR streamed a pre-lease of this entire album. I listened to it over and over until the day it was released. Go buy it directly from his label/website.
Walk the Moon – Anna Sun This is probably my favorite song on the album but I opted for Tightrope becaue it matched the tempo I wanted for the slideshow.
For those of you that supported me and helped me create this year I owe you a world of thanks. Without you I’d be stuck behind some desk.
This week I had Devon in for another shoot. This is the sixth time I’ve worked with Devon over the past three years. I love working with her because she’s amazing at what she does. When someone is that good in front of my camera it makes me look great. For all our previous shoots Devon did her own hair and makeup. Most models have enough exerience that they know what’s needed to get a certain look on camera.
A few months ago I saw some dramatic before and after glamour photos from photographer Sue Bryce. Sue’s business is a bit different than mine in that she is a modern-day version of glamour shots. Remember the store in the mall that your mom or aunt went to? Sue’s take is modern and beautiful. Real women + great hair and makeup + an amazing photographer and her clients leave with amazing and timless glamour portraits. Hearing Sue speak and seeing her photos sparked enough interest in me that I wanted to do something similar. I wanted to see a transformation. My starting place is quite a bit different than Sue’s “average woman” client. I chose Devon because she is amazing in front of the camera. She epitomizes what I want from every model I work with; confidence, beauty, emotion and sex-appeal; and she’s got all that without the fancy hair and makeup.
I enlisted the help of Sura Radcliffe to help with hair and she recruited her friend and colleague Stacey Ellis to help with makeup. My reference point and inspiration was the glamorous portraits of both modern-day and past film starlets like Scarlett Johansson and Bridget Bardot. We wanted a vintage feel to start with; knowing that we could build on the hair and makeup and bring it to a modern day glamour look. The following images reflect the progression of the day.
During the 45 miinutes that Devon was getting her hair and makeup done I shot some behind the scenes video. The following shows the progression from start to finish.
As I mentioned on my post about the Elinchrom Ranger, when I get new equipment I take it out and test with it. Up until my shoot with Kiana I had only managed to shoot a handful of images of my kids and was blown away at how new the Mark III and settings were. The Mark III is my seventh Canon digital body. With many of my previous upgrades, the upgrade was based on the image quality and size upgrade. The Mark III is a giant leap in quality, focal points and provides me with a full frame body that I have been missing for months.
A few years ago most commercial photographers wouldn’t stoop to shooting weddings and family portraits. It was beneath them. Some of the photographers that did, went to great lengths to hide their wedding and family work from their commercial clients. Although I separate my commercial and family work on different websites I’ve never been shy about either. I love working as a photographer. Period. I love shooting both and I’m proud of the work I do in both areas.
The downfall is that on a couple of occasions the lines have blurred and I’ve ended up having uncomfortable conversations about my pricing and why I charge what I charge. Do I charge more to shoot a head shot of Mrs. Jones compared to shooting her during a family portrait session? Yes. Why? Specificity. A recent (potential) family portrait client was scheduled for a portrait session. She mentioned and hoped to get a few shots to use on her business website. In my most professional and gentle manner, I described my purpose and goal with family portraits. I explained how those goals and the associated pricing isn’t in-line with shooting corporate head shots.
When I shoot for a commercial client my job is very specific. I’m hired to help my clients with sales and marketing. Are they trying to sell a home, their jewelry, their interior design services, or just sell themselves? Typically the results from a commercial shoot is a handful of preconceived images. They pay for my help to execute their vision or in some cases to help conceive of and shoot their vision. I charge commercial clients based on the scope of the job, the resulting retouching and a licensing fee for using the images. If the job is relatively easy and straight forward they pay a lower rate. If the job requires me to drag a bunch of lights and grip equipment to the beach at 5AM, then the resulting rate will reflect the challenges involved with the shoot. After it’s all said and done commercial clients only pay to license and retouch the photos they want to use.
The image below is a section of proofs I shot for a Best Buy commercial. The image was to be used as a full-page ad on the back of a newspaper. On this particular day I shot 458 images including lighting tests and shots of just the laptop. I shot Mark holding the laptop, not holding it, with a jacket, without a jacket, sitting, standing, etc…. This was our second photo shoot to get this one image. Of the 1000 or so images I shot over the course of the two shoots they chose one. (In the end they changed the concept and didn’t use any.)
Wedding and family photography is a different story. My wedding and family clients expect a variety of great images to view and chose from; something that my commercial clients don’t usually request. I edit every single image my wedding and family portrait clients see. I want them to see their proofs and know that they will look at least that good if they order a print. The image below was shot a couple weekends ago in Santa Barbara for Matt and Sara’s engagement session. I shoot in a format known as RAW. Basically it’s a digital negative needs to be processed on the computer. Because I am doing the processing rather than allowing the camera to decide on how the image should look, I have control over how the final image looks. The image on top is what the image would have looked like had I not edited the file. The colors are drab, it’s not sharp, the contrast is low and it reflects that we were in a parking garage. The image below is after editing. This editing process is included in all my wedding and family work but not in my commercial jobs. Ironically I photographed both Matt and Sara’s business head shots and they are familiar with both pricing models.
For the most part my wedding and portrait clients don’t get to direct during my shoots. Yes, when a mom or a bride has a specific idea for her photo, of course I oblige and shoot it. It’s her time, she’s paying me and only if she likes the resulting images will she order a print. But they don’t get to view each image as I shoot it and then discuss what’s working and what’s not. It’s a different level of service and therefore the rates for wedding and family clients are substantially lower.
This pricing seems logical to me but it wasn’t to her. The potential family portrait client I mentioned decided she didn’t want me to shoot her family portraits. It would have been easy for me to just shoot a handful of “head shots” of mom during the family portrait session rather than loosing the job. One of the images might have worked for her head shot purposes, but what if it didn’t? What if I didn’t spend enough time and effort making the head shot and she thought they all sucked. Now she thinks I’m not a good commercial photographer. Maybe she tells her friends and colleagues, maybe she hires someone else. Why put myself in that position? If you want a specific image, let’s spend time thinking about and planning it. If you want variety and great images to use on your holiday card and hang on your wall then let’s plan on that.