I had a great week in my new profession last week. Being fairly new in business can be a bit of a challenge. Photography is one of those vocations where nearly all of your business comes from word of mouth, and at first there is a limited number of people talking about you. I have been very blessed to have great friends who have kindly recommended me to others, and when presented with those opportunities I feel a true sense of duty to honor their faith in me by trying my damnedest to make them look good. I would hate to make someone look like an idiot by failing one of their friends who they referred to me, causing the friend to forever question their judgement. I had this happen to me once.
I had the lasagna at a restaurant real close to my house and it was awesome. Fast forward a month or so, and I'm at the same restaurant recommending this to die for menu item to a neighbor of mine. I think they changed the lasagna a bit, it looked like it was made of convenience store pump cheese, and although my neighbor pretended to enjoy it, her eyes looked right at me with a gaze that said "you think this crap is good?" I was a bit embarrassed, and that neighbor never asked my opinion on food ever again. I don't want to ever put someone in that position.
Speaking of neighbors, I got to do a shoot last Sunday with one of my favorite neighbors Mikki. It would be great if my calendar was full of paying gigs, and although I had a great paying gig this week for a business client I still have a need to create more. Until more people tell more people who tell more people I'll be filling some gaps in my shooting schedule with personal work. I had wanted to do some environmental portrait work for my portfolio, I had an image of a stylish Mikki sitting in her stylish condo in mind, although instead we took advantage of great weather and fall colors and did a location shoot. I was also hoping to ad some maturity to my portfolio by having a older more mature woman included, and that didn't quite happen either as Mikki came out looking unbelievably young.
Have you ever looked closely at the moon? Take a look at a full moon, it's fat and smooth. Now take a look at a crescent moon, it's skinny and where the light turns to dark you can clearly see the texture where the mountains and craters cast shadows. You do realize that this is the same exact moon you're looking at, so how does it have such different appearances? Lighting, silly. Now, in real life, Mikki is a bit of a stunner, but if you were to ask her (or any woman) if they would prefer to look fatter and older or slimmer and younger you probably aren't going to be surprised by the answer. So here is the photographic secret that the moon teaches us about portraits. If you look at the dark side of someones face or the moon it will appear skinnier. And texture, be it wrinkles or craters, aren't visible until they cast a shadow. The sun is huge in real life, but I can cover it up with my thumb, so it appears as a very small light source, and the smaller the light source the harsher and more contrasty the shadows are. The moon is always lit by harsh direct sunlight, so we can't do much to eliminate the texture other than by looking at it from the same direction that the light is coming from (full moon), but human faces are smaller than the moon, so we can easily modify the quality of the light. By using an umbrella, softbox, reflector, or here on earth clouds, we make the original light appear much bigger which softens the shadows and reduces the texture on the subject. If you want to make people look younger and slimmer in your photos have them turn their face towards a big light and photograph it from the shadow side. If I'm taking your picture you'll hear me say over and over again "turn your face a bit towards the light... not so far... eyes into the camera... say 'hey' like you're greeting a friend... (click) beautiful!"
I might have done a little bit better than I needed to with Mikki, because nobody believes her age when looking at some of the photos. I've seen anti photoshop videos all over Facebook, and I think they do a bit of a disservice to the work photographers do. I'm not saying that over photoshoping doesn't occur, I'm saying it doesn't need to. I use photoshop to make my photo's look better (color saturation, contrast, exposure adjustments, burning and dodging, basically the stuff you used to do in a darkroom), not to make the subjects in my photos look better (airbrushing), I use lighting and posing to make my subjects look better. And all the photoshop and airbrushing in the world isn't going to help a bad pose or bad light.
Oh, I guess I got off track a bit. This post is about how I had a great week in my new profession. I had a fantastic week. It wasn't because I made a metric shit ton of money, it was because I did 3 shoots this week, and I'm proud of the work I made in every one of them. I captured people at their best, and made art that I'm very very proud to show to people. Now all I want to do is get back out there and do even better. I want to take pictures that make me embarrassed to see my best work made today, and I'll be very very proud again, until I get even better.
A huge thank you to everyone who liked or shared on Facebook any of my work. And a bigger thank you to everyone who referred me to a friend or colleague. Most of all thank you to those who invested their dollars in my services. I only dropped my rock into the pond a little bit ago, and the ripples haven't traveled that far yet, but I think if I can keep doing good work for my clients I have a chance of making a really big splash!