It's April 9th 2020 and seems we have another 3 weeks of "lockdown" before any restrictions are lifted.
Maybe you'd like to know how I go about creating great photos - whether it's a wedding, a family photo-shoot, an engagement shoot - anything involving people.
Firstly what is a "GREAT PHOTO"?
It'll be different for everyone as photography is more art than anything and we all see things differently. However, there are some basic principles that help ensure that the photo will be at least "good"
Lighting - you should automatically be drawn to the main focus of the image which usually means it should be the brightest part of the photo. Also contrast - my personal style is for a good deal of contrast in my images - I like the shadows to be really dark and the highlights to be quite bright without overpowering my subject though.
Composition - there are whole books written on this but for me it boils down to, "does this look right?" Sometimes the subject should be a third of the way across the frame - other times in the centre. Sometimes the background should be just a blur, other times it should be in focus. It all depends on the story I'm trying to tell and the situation the photos is taken in.
Pose- I work quite often with professional models for portfolio shots, websites etc. Usually they are a delight to work with - I just start to say, "can you move your..." and they instinctively do whatever I was about to ask them for.!
My weddings, families and other shoots are obviously not with professional models and one of my clients biggest worries are things like, "how do I stand, what do I do with my hands, where do I look" and so on.I completely understand and always explain what to do. Whilst I'm not a professional model I know how to make people look good - I can slim anyone worried about their weight, I can make men look broader and hunky, I can make any woman look like a fashion model (if that's what you want!)
A great photo happens when everything comes together - sometimes it's the first photo I take - sometimes it's the 20th - that's what I love about photography - working towards the perfect shot to create something that's actually better than reality.
SO WHAT DO I ACTUALLY DO TO ACHIEVE A GREAT PHOTO?
Over the years I've developed an effective method that gets me there.
I start with (strangely) the background.
The background sets the tone, the overall look to the photo. It obviously depends on the time of day, the location etc. but I look for the best background for the image I want to create,
For instance, at the beginning of a wedding I'll always seek out several places where I could later in the day do some shots with the couple that would make for great photos. Maybe a really colourful shrub surrounded by flowers - an open area where the sky could be the background - a feature of the venue, a bridge, lake, or fountain.
Techie Stuff - great photos do require decent equipment and for that equipment to be used creatively. I'll decide what lens and camera settings would best suit each location so that when we actually get to do these shots I already have a plan! There's also lighting to be considered - will natural light give me the look I want - is there a particular time of day the photo would look better - will I need artificial lighting; either strobe or led.
Come the time to get the shot I'll select the correct lens and camera settings then ask the couple (or individual or family - it's all very similar) and explain the shot and what I'm trying to do (rather than simply, "do this or do that". The key is usually for the final photo to look natural (not always though - some obviously posed photos also look great!) but always RELAXED. Sometimes it just takes a few minutes to get to the image I want and sometimes a lot longer. At a family shoot say, that's not too much of an issue but at a wedding I'd really try and avoid taking too long - it's this couples' wedding - not my photo-shoot!
Images form the camera, in my opinion, are never the final product.
I always to create a photo that goes beyond reality. Take a photo on a smartphone and you get reality. I want to give my clients photos way beyond that so I use Lightroom always and Photoshop sometimes to work on the images I've selected to create the final photos. Let me add that I do not agree with using software to fix a bad photo - it's not about that - it's about taking what's already good and making it even better.
So that's hopefully given an insight into my photography world.
At this difficult time I wish you and your loved ones the very best Take care