Thursday, August 23, 2012

What is Photography and a Photographer

Merriam Webster defines photography as; The art or process of producing an image(s) by the action of radiant energy and especially light on a sensitive surface such as film or optical sensor. Take a moment and think about that definition. Would you have or do you define photography in that manner? When you go out and take a photograph is that what your are setting out to do? Are you thinking that photograph in terms of capturing light? For me I know that light the most important part of the art but I guess I did not think of it as capturing light.

If your like most people, myself included, I would think of photography as the capturing of a scene that evokes an emotion or response by the viewer. But the logic is in front of you. It is all about the light. The light that is defused, direct, in the shadows and high lights. It is the way we control it on the film or sensor to the final print that makes or breaks the photograph. Light is to the photographer like paint is to the painter. It is our tool our medium that we must master in order to create the photograph we want.

Light is malleable. There are ways to shape the light by using diffusers, gobos, reflectors, and fill light. This is done a lot in portraits in order to create a pleasing final portrait. But this was not done only in photography. In fact the really good photographers understood this and looked to the master portrait painters to learn how to create a great portrait.

If you study the portrait painters of the baroque aria, like Rembrandt, you notice the use of lights and darks. The careful use of light that shows detail in the shadows and highlights. How light is manipulated to give depth to the subject(s) and the surrounds. That is what a good portrait photographer tries to do. Although the subjects and surroundings have changed, the strategies are still the same. Create a lighting situations by manipulating the light around them to create a pleasing portraits.

Light can be also natural or not manipulated. Landscape, nature or any photographer that photographs large areas. But instead of manipulating the light they wait for it. The circumstance of being at the right place at the right time is not played out with this type of photographer. Instead they study the area, waiting patiently for the right light that they can use. Once they understand their subject this photographer breaks down the light in to an exposure that would best fit what they are creating. Through this exposure the photographer either develops the film accordingly or manipulates it in a program like Lightroom, PhotoShop, or the many others to create the print that expresses their interpretation of the subject.

In either case the photographer is taking in all the light and manipulating it through exposure or tools of the trade to arrive to an end product that pleases them. They are painting with light much like the masters of old used their paints. But unlike the Masters the photographer of today we have many mediums in which to place that image on or with.

For the most part I see, and participated, the placement of images on the internet. The internet for its part is a medium that can be viral but not the best way to reproduce your image. There are many factors that can make your image look very poor. One would be the monitor. Not every ones monitor is color correct or of the higher quality to adequately reproduce your image. Image size also comes to mind. For most monitors all you see at best is a fifteen inch high image of your work. Because of lower resolutions the reproduction of the work can look pixilated, soft, dark or light but never at its best.

Prints are the best way to truly experience photograph and this is where you can get lost in how you want it printed. You have choices of photographic paper, inkjet prints on different types of paper, metal, metal like paper, cardstock, mugs and many others. For me large prints are the best and that is again where good photographer comes into play. See the larger the print, the more the flaws come out. If the image resolution is too low, image too soft, not clean or over processed all that comes out in a big print. As a photographer you must know and understand this. You must be able to create a photo, manipulate it to be able to print it in any size you want. Blow any of the steps to create a good photograph and the end produce will disappoint

Being a photographer is to paint with light. To understand light and use the tools at your hand to create the image you want. Being a photographer takes patients and vision to see your subject in a final product. To be a photographer you must shoot a lot of photographs in order to grow, you must be willing to fail at an image in order to succeed in the end. Being a photographer isn’t about the equipment you collect or the price you pay, its about understanding your tools and using them to the fullest in order to get the image you want. Being a photographer is always being fascinated by the light and ways to paint with it. Because that is what we do. Some very well and others not so.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Focus Focus Focus

I think the hardest thing about trying to get my foot hold in getting my work out there is the fact that I get easily distracted…..(Sorry shiny object) I mean I have so many ideas that I would like to try, just when I think of one to try something else pops up. That reminds me I need to get more soda and dog food. Crap. Or the other thing that happens is that I hear a really good pod cast with great ideas that totally puts my ideas to the back burner. Did I turn off the stove?

So here is what I did. I got a note pad and I am prioritizing the ideas I have and when I am going to act on them The note pad is just plain and I can draw and color..Speaking of color my fish looks like an odd color. So are oods. Oods are a strange looking creature…Anyway I am currently working out the priority of the ideas and hopefully I can get them started.

Here are just a few things I am mulling over. First I would like to figurer a way to stand out from the rest. There is a lot in a name and not that I am thinking of changing my name..Although when I was a kid I wanted to be called Magnum and grow the porn star mustache. But back to the naming thing. I could say I am a photographer and I would not be lying. But the title photographer is not carrying the weight I wanted it to. So I am working on a title that fits me. Crazy has been suggested.

The other thing I am thinking over is teaching a class or two. I believe that if I can, and you too, teach people that it is more than aiming the camera and pushing a button to photography then the title and our prices will make more since to joe public.

So focusing has been my problem this week but I think with this notebook I can keep my mind on the right path. Oh and as of today I have not heard back from the gallery I submitted work to.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Update on Photographic Journey

No I have not reached the end of my photographic journey just a refueling point I guess. So here is my update of what I have been doing.

As you can see by the other post of today I am working towards putting a website together. The only way of getting my stuff out there is to get a website gallery to show the work. And if people want to buy my work my website will have a way of doing so.

I have submitted work to a local gallery to have it juried in. The owners are going to look and judge whether or not I fit their gallery. I printed and matted 4 photographs that I felt represented my work. I just printed them as 8x12 and matted them so they looked complete. I thought about framing them but I have only so much to spend and providing a way to mail them back to the house would get pricy. If I am selected to sell there I have to come up with items to sell. I would like to sell big gallery wraps but I do understand that I should have some small items to sell. I am not a big fan of small prints. Too me small prints should have a function like a post card, book marker but not something you hang on a wall. Just my opinion.

In the between time I had spent a lot of time behind the camera shooting stuff around the house. I tried to photograph quality not quantity if that makes sense. I sat and observed before I shot, taking the time to look at the whole picture and not just react and shoot only to be disappointed in the end results. I also worked on my in camera editing. What I mean by that is concentrate on composition as well as exposure. I am limited in how I shoot now which I believe makes me a better shooter. I only have PhotoShop Elements 3 to use which doesn’t support RAW format. So by taking the time to get what I want I don’t find myself saying “I’ll shoot it and fix it later in PhotoShop.” I recommend this exercise to everyone. By pushing yourself up front you do less in post production which yields a better work of art.

So the goals I have is to get the website up by the end of September, come up with products to sell in the gallery that is unique. I have a book project I am in the process of doing that once it goes into production I will document it’s creation. Oh and photograph more. Ultimately I would like to be making a living at my photography and not what I am doing now. Not that what I do now is bad but I believe you should be happy doing what you do. It’s a long road before I can quit my job but

Building a better website.

Well maybe it would be more correctly stated, finding a web hosting site that fits my needs. There are many criteria’s that I need form a website; it must look good, easy to operate, able to sell work, and above all I must be able to afford it.

Websites are important in order to attract customers who are either wanting to buy your work or your services. In checking out many photographer’s websites I saw what I liked and disliked. What was easy to run and what was not so easy. I am drawn to the sites that is easy to load on my machine as well as easy to navigate. Believe me I found a lot of sites were that was not the case. In my world, and can’t believe that I am alone, I don’t want to have to think too hard to find what I want.

When I found a site that I thought was constructed well, easy to navigate and looked very sharp I scanned for a name to Google. Funny a lot of the good sites did not have a hosting site that I could get information from. Too bad so I did the next best thing, Google photography host sites. Now that I have done some research on what I liked in a site I could apply that knowledge to the array of host sites that popped up on my search.

First I needed to know what my needs were and what I wanted the site do for me. I thought I just wanted to have a gallery type of site that would not only have my photos but a blog for me to communicate with. But the more I though about it the more I did not want to loose possible impulse sales from visitors. So I started to look at websites that offered marketing and sales options.

When you talk about sales, marketing, placement of your site on search engines you can either find sites that have a great price but not so great templates, or high prices and great looking templates. Lets face it at this junction in my life I can not justify paying $500 a month for a site that I may not even get that in sales for the year. For the ones that I could afford more often I found they had cheesy templates which did not give off the look I was going for.

After some hours spent researching I found a site that was in my price range, had professional templates, marketing tools, easy to navigate for user and author, the ability to have a blog and link into social networks. I will leave the name out of it at this time until I am live and out there. During this process I will report back on the whole process of build and launching the site. Once it is up and going then I will let you know who I went with. I am hoping to get things rolling by the end of this month. I have $150 budgeted for the project and should have that by the end of the month. Keep you posted.