Posts Tagged ‘photography

19
Jul
11

My Barbies

OK, I have two Barbies in my studio – a blonde and a brunette.  It’s interesting to see the reactions of clients when they see them. Some will ask about them – others seem a bit concerned but can’ t quite bring themselves to ask. So why does a grown man have Barbies in his place of work?  Good question!

I use them for lighting practice. Later this week, I have a fashion shoot where I will use new gear and a new technique for wraparound  backlighting, which you can see in this picture.  It’s very helpful to practice with the Barbies so I don’t have to take as much time setting up with a live person.

Actually, if truth be told, I love my Barbies. There, I’ve said it! They’re very patient. They don’t complain if I try ten different ways of shooting them – or fifty. They seem happy with the music I choose.  They can hold a smile and their makeup never needs touching up. And the Barbies have definitely helped me to become a better photographer.

But they do need names now. Can you help me with this?

04
Jul
11

Body Image and the editing of photographs

Much has been written about the emphasis on an ideal (and mostly unattainable) concept of beauty, especially in the popular culture, and the negative effects this can have on young women and girls.

The AMA (American Medical Association) came out recently with a policy recommending a different approach to editing pictures. Here’s part of what they said:

BODY IMAGE AND ADVERTISING TO YOUTH: Advertisers commonly alter photographs to enhance the appearance of models’ bodies, and such alterations can contribute to unrealistic expectations of appropriate body image – especially among impressionable children and adolescents. A large body of literature links exposure to media-propagated images of unrealistic body image to eating disorders and other child and adolescent health problems.

The AMA adopted new policy to encourage advertising associations to work with public and private sector organizations concerned with child and adolescent health to develop guidelines for advertisements, especially those appearing in teen-oriented publications, that would discourage the altering of photographs in a manner that could promote unrealistic expectations of appropriate body image.

Over the last four years, I’ve had the privilege of photographing dozens of females – from age 6 months to the 80’s. And I’ve had the responsibility of editing hundreds – no thousands – of these images in Photoshop.  So I have some thoughts on this topic.

But first, two rather outrageous (and true) stories.

1)  Alistair Macaulay, the lead ballet critic of The New York Times, in his review of The Nutcracker, said of Jennifer Ringer, a principal dancer at the New York City Ballet, who danced the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy, that Ringer “looked as if she’d eaten one sugar-plum too many.”

2)  Deborah Voigt, one of the top opera sopranos in the world, was scheduled to sing Ariadne at Covent Garden in London. At the last minute, she was fired because the producer did not like how she looked in the little black dress she was to wear in the performance. Miss Voigt underwent gastric bypass surgery after losing this gig.

In both of these cases, the hue and cry from ballet and opera fans was tremendous, and almost all in support of Ringer and Voigt. Of course, as both of these were live  performances, there was no opportunity to “edit” the images of the women in Photoshop.

So where do I come out on all of this?

1) I certainly agree with the AMA that we should not create unrealistic expectations of an ideal body image. And we should do all we can to support and encourage every young woman or girl we know to have to a healthy self-image – whatever her shape is.

2) Almost everyone I shoot – men and women – is self-conscious about his/her appearance. It’s part of human nature. In my work, I try to put my subjects at ease.  There’s usually one particular thing the client is most concerned about. I’ll often reassure them by offering to “fix” some things in Photoshop – it often does help to make the person comfortable and relax.  I tell the client I’m as interested as she/he is in creating a beautiful and flattering image – which is the truth.

3)  I still want to celebrate natural beauty in my work. It’s been done since the beginning of time in art. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and can be represented in positive and affirming ways.

4)  In editing images, I work hard to make the person look as good as possible – but still look like them. The two images in this post are of Ashley, a very accomplished model. We were shooting lingerie images in a catalog style. Ashley has a lovely figure – but there were still lots of small edits I did to make the images – and Ashley – look better.

5)  Something I learned from one of my mentors – you don’t tell the client the things you work on in Photoshop.  I love it when I hear, “Wow! you made me look great! And yet it really looks like me!”

6)  All my edits are subtle. Lots of small things can have a cumulative big effect. When someone looks at my images, I hope that the Photoshop work is invisible.

7) When I see images of myself, I’m amazed at how wrinkly my neck is. In the rare times I edit images of myself, the neck the first thing that gets smoothed out!

As always, your comments are appreciated. Thanks for reading!

17
Mar
11

Five Photo Tips

I hear this a lot:  “I have a digital camera, but it’s a bit overwhelming. the camera just sits in the box. What can I do?”

1) Read the Manual. OK, you never read manuals; I don’t either. Well, you really should read the camera manual. Your digital camera likely has an amazing set of features – yes, perhaps way too many. But going through the manual and being aware of the features can help you when you later ask: “Can I do this with my camera?” I know my camera very well, but I carry the manual with me at all times and refer to it often.

2) Venture out of Auto Mode. You’re thinking this is easy, I’ll just set everything up on auto mode and won’t have to make any decisions. Your camera will likely take OK pictures, but just OK. Learn about shutter priority and aperture priority (it’s in the manual!) and try them out. It’s easy to do with a bit of effort, and your pictures will look MUCH better.

3) Get Closer. Pictures of people – and most other subjects – will benefit by getting in closer. Walk in or zoom in. It will simplify the image, add impact and engage the viewer more deeply. In this image, I started with a full body shot. As I kept shooting closer and closer, the picture got better.

4) Shoot! Shoot! Shoot! Take lots of pictures. They’re free. Take a shot, change a setting on the camera, and shoot again. Which image works better? Move around and shoot the subject from a different angle. You’ll gradually find out what works – and especially what works for you. Henri Cartier-Bresson, the famous French photographer said, “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.”

5) Enjoy! Little kids can pick up drawing easily and have fun from the very beginning. Adults who take up drawing mostly struggle with a lot of anxiety and critical self-judgment. Photography is the same way. Act like a kid – just relax, let go and shoot. Shoot what you care about, shoot what inspires you. Keep shooting and I know your work will get better by leaps and bounds!

16
Mar
11

headshots (and more!) for an actor

Does Green on Green work?  It does for me~!

This week I photographed Alisson,  a lovely and experienced actor.  Alisson needed headshots for her acting career and we made a number of fashion images as well. We were joined by Maria Dominici, makeup artist, and Sam, an 8th grader and my fabulous photo assistant for the day.

Normally, actors do not use beauty images for their headshots.  But Alisson really connected with these photographs and will likely use one for her main headshot.  This image certainly would show a casting director what she looks like. And I’m hoping it will lead to lots of gigs for her.

Headshots for models and actors by New York photographers are expensive. More and more, people are coming out to Connecticut to shoot with me – the $20 train fare is covered many times over by the cost savings.  My goal is to make images that are unique, full of energy, creative  and revealing  about the character of the subject.

Faithful readers will recall I often try to put hands into a portrait. Hands can add interest and be very expressive.  Does the hand work for you in this photograph?

You can see more images of my shoot with Alisson on my website, here.  As always, your comments and questions are welcome. Thanks for following my blog!

12
Mar
11

man does not live by bread alone…

This week I had the great pleasure of doing a shoot with my good friend, Lisa, who is a baker extraordinaire.  Lisa is a professionally trainer baker of artisanal breads, scones, biscuits and cookies. If you have not tried any of Lisa’s scrumptious creations, stop by Darien Cheese & Fine Foods (website). You’re in for a real treat!

This shoot was about shapes, textures, colors and depth of field. We purposely kept the compositions very simple. In the image to the left of Irish soda bread, we used a fairly harsh light, to bring out the shine in the glaze on the bread. Also we were emphasizing the contrast between the smooth board and rough texture of the bread.

In the image of the bread in a cooling tent, we wanted to show a bit of the reflection off the glass, but not have it be overwhelming. This is a matter of trial and error as you move lights around. Thank goodness for digital capture – there’s no cost to shooting hundreds of images, if need be.

I love Lisa’s post-modern red bread box.  It looks like it might be something the Jetsons would have in their kitchen. While shooting it, I kept wondering if it might take off and fly around the studio. Luckily, it stayed put.

Lisa and I shot her breads for about three hours. We used just a few props and stayed with the blue paper background. We’d take a shot, move the bread a half-inch to the side and shoot again. There’s a lot to be said for keeping things simple while taking pictures. You can slow down and really concentrate on the shapes and textures.  So many images we see today are too busy and frenetic. I find the photographs Lisa and I created to be somehow calming.  Please see more images from this series on my website, here.

“Man does not live by bread alone.”  This sentence appears three times in the Bible, in Deuteronomy and the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.  And to be sure, there is more to life than bread. But I have to say that, when I eat a slice of Lisa’s flax bread (pictured below), all’s right with the world and there’s not much else I long for!

07
Feb
11

photographing artwork – part two

I’ve been shooting a fair amount of artwork recently.  As discussed in this recent post, I photographed  a very small painting – less than six inches across. This painting above is much larger, over 5 feet across.

My friends, Bill and Debbie Nightingale,  own the painting. The artist is Ben Jones.  The painting will be the featured piece in an exhibit of Jones’ work this Spring,  at the Washington County Museum of  Fine Arts, in Hagerstown, Maryland.  The photograph will be used in the catalog for the exhibit.

There were some interesting challenges in shooting this painting. It hangs in the Nightingale dining room and was too large to move. To get back far enough to shoot it properly, we noticed the chandelier was in the way. Bill and I wired the chandelier up close to the ceiling, just making room for a clear view from the camera.  I used two lights, trying to light the canvas evenly, but still provide some highlights and interest to the frame.

Apparently the artist has tried to buy the piece back several times. I’m not surprised – it’s an extraordinary work of art.

01
Feb
11

slinkies!

It’s been a horrible winter in New England.  Everyone (especially me) is getting cranky. I needed to have some fun.  In a photography magazine, I’d seen some neat images of slinkies, so off to the toy store I went.

In this shoot, I really was just having fun.  The colors and shapes took over. Childhood memories came back. The colorful new plastic slinkies may be even better than the old metal ones I grew up with – who knows? 

There’s more snow, sleet, ran and cold today and tomorrow. But these images brought me a bit of joy and the faith that Spring will eventually come. And I hope they’ll bring you the same joy and faith as well!