Getting up early is par for the course when you want to make good photographs in my opinion. One has to go the extra mile so to speak. This past weekend was such and occasion. I decided to get up getting up early and make a picture of a hot air balloon.
I have known and have wanted to go to an early morning balloon event for several years now. Last year we went to and evening where the balloons were inflated at night. It was a great event I didn’t come away with any images to speak of but it was an adventure.
This year I checked the weather I made a note in my calendar of the event and when all the things lined up we planned to go. The event is a fair distance away which meant that in order to get there and make good photographs we had to get up around 5am. We got up, we made our way to the event in arrived just in time.
It was a beautiful morning, the steam was coming up off the lake. Swans were swimming and the lake is rich with birds.
Here you can see one or two of the photographs made of the event.
When I started shooting a few years ago, I did not even know what a light-meter is. I have done some training where there were introductions and reasons given why light-meters are good to have. As with many things and ideas out there, there are two camps. Those that use a light-meter and those that don’t believe in using one.
I must say I am all for making life easier and so a few weeks ago I ordered myself a light-meter.
For me the final push was when a photographer/retoucher who’s blog I follow started to use one but seriously I have been thinking about using a light-meter for some time now.
I think a light-meter is a tool that make setting up easier and faster. I can make do without a light-meter, after all I have been for a few years now. I am hoping that a little more accuracy is also going to lift my portrait and studio work to a different level. If nothing else it will introduce some consistency. However I do think it will make a difference especially because the studio space is small and the lights are not all at the same distances from the subject. The fact that the distances vary in turn means that the setting on each light has to be adjusted individually.
In my opinion one never stop learning. I am relatively new to Photoshop use, I have only been using it for the last five years.
Lately I enjoy a blog by Calvin Hollywood allot. The content is fresh, he is exited about what he writes and teaches about. I am not from Germany but I speak a little and do enjoy learning more. It was not too big a deal then when I purchased some training and it was in German. In addition to techniques and ideas I got to see what Photoshop terms are in German. Of course Calvin has two blogs one in German and one in English.
Using some of the techniques I created this image of a row of boat-sheds down at the waterfront.
For me personally the next step is to find a way to take these beautiful scenes and sell them as prints rather than as stock.
Retouching with confidence has been a challenge.
When you starting with Photoshop you just don’t know what you don’t know. Its no secret Photoshop is a great tool and has many features. It takes time to get to know the tools and features in the first instance but then you have to learn to apply them correctly and with-in reason. I know each person is different and have different taste but there is a general standard out there.
It is only recently that I have been having more “acceptance” of the retouching I am doing to photographs. I am surprised but also when you look at the picture you can see it looks like you want it to.
With more you practice you get better at retouching not to mention it can be allot of fun too. If it isn’t fun you going to end up not liking the process and your end result will show that.
Working on a headshot photograph and having the time to stand back and get an opinion is worth allot. When you don’t have an assistant or designer working for you it helps to have a friend who can look at the result and give you an opinion. One never stop learning and having a few different techniques up your sleeve may just save your bacon. This only comes from experience though.
When I started a few years ago I think I was in the I didn’t know what I didn’t know camp and slowly and am getting out of that but only through working and gaining experience, I love photography and I love retouching too the process distracts me and give me something I otherwise would not find that easily.
Its different processes when taking a photograph to when one is siting down and doing the retouching and I love both aspects of the process.
I work with computers allot but I love working with people more than just computers. Whether its taking a headshot photograph or just getting to know someone for the first time people are interesting and unique. In the end of the day you cannot hope to make a good headshot photograph without getting the person you photograph to relax and reveal who they are to you. If you don’t make a connection with the person you are taking a headshot photograph of you may as well be taking passport photo’s in the mall.
When you retouch, you go to a different place, you trying to bring something from the photograph and also imparting a unique perspective or style to a photograph so that when other people look at the headshot photograph they can see that it distinctly comes from you rather than just some random shot taken by anyone
I am finished with the new headshot photo. It took me longer than I thought to process the image. I am lucky to have a friend to I can ask opinions of.
I thought it would be easier but I can see where I can do it better. I think I am going to start writing things down, with time I may not need them but I think in the beginning it may make my life allot easier. Anything that makes life easier is going to take the stress away and that will make for a better more relaxed shoot and hopefully the end result will be better headshot photographs.
I found it helpful not to start working on an image right away. After the shoot I do download the images to my computer and make a backup copy but that is where I leave things for that day. I then come back the next day and see what images I like. To date my first pick is usually right so I try going with my first impression ( I never thought I would say go with your gut ) but experience do pay off and one does learn what makes a better image and which to select.
Usually after picking an image or a few headshot photos I process the lot to a point where I can see which of them I like better and I leave it again for a day or two. After that I would take the image all the way to the end.
I had the privilege to have another head-shot photo session with a client. I am seeing that to make a headshot photograph that does not look like any other the client has had is not that straight forward. One of the things that I had heard from Peter Hurley is to put yourself apart from other photographers you have to connect with your client. It is your job to make the client relax and forget about the camera and show you a part of themselves that you can capture. You have to make the photograph something that when people look at it they see the person as they are.
I am also seeing that taking time when processing a headshot photo is important to help you see if you are taking the image in the right direction, if you have selected the correct image(s) and often when you come back the next day you spot something that you enhance or change.
I like working with people that is why this approach to taking a headshot photograph appeals to me allot more than just putting a subject in-front of the camera, saying smile and that was it.
I am adopting a new style of portrait.
The unique headshot photograph style is a combination of techniques I learned over the last few years. When I saw a video of a photography named Peter Hurley I liked his work straight away. I took a few shots and like the results. I invited a few friends over and they liked the result too. But I left it there.
Some time after I had shot the head-shots I ran across a new name, Glyn Dewis. I liked what he was doing but only saw his work after watching an interview with him. Glyn works with another photographer named Calvin Hollywood. The same place I saw the interview with Glyn I had before seen a training series by Calvin Hollywood.
The style of headshot photograph I am producing is a combination of the people mentioned above and all the other training and experience I have gained over the past few years.
In a market that is saturated with photographers I think it is important to develop a unique headshot photograph style. Something that sets you apart from other photographers and something that you like. When I started I didn’t see immediately that both the photography and the retouching parts are equally important to arrive at the end product.
Since I started and practiced to be able to consistently produce the unique style of headshot photograph I have come to realise that small deviations are important in each photograph to make it unique but there are a certain element that requires a certain level of consistency. Personally I find the style fun and I enjoy the workflow. I also like the fact that it uses allot Photoshop techniques, there are certain steps where I use third-party plug-in’s but it is only one or two steps.