Friday, October 24, 2008

Don't Take Pictures, Build Photographs



One thing that I preach when I teach is the need to not just go to a clients location and take pictures. Many assignments you receive will seem easy because they just want you to come and take pictures, but I feel that every assignment is an opportunity to build photographs. We can all take pictures; point the camera and snap the shutter and it seems that many photographers get away with just doing that. But the best shooters build their photos and I do it one light at a time.

I shot an annual report last week for an industrial manufacturer and one photo took quite awhile to figure the best places for the light the scene for a good effect. Here you can see the angle the client and I chose for this shot but this industrial lighting is flat, ugly, and boring. A dynamic foreground that leads to the background and the workers. I never shoot in available light either and always use lots of lights. Here we used 9 lights placed throughout the scene. Five large umbrellas, two raw heads, one lightbox, and one grid spot. We took our time setting up the lighting and tested as we went along starting with the four large umbrellas which lit the overall scene. Then we added the lightbox, raw heads, and grid to light specific areas of the scene. This is building the photo one light at a time and it is a great way to see the results as you create them. In addition, I always use some of the ambient light from within the scene as part of my exposure, but usually overide it with the strobe to a large extent. The idea is to light the main subject or activity to stand out and then add light to the rest of the scene to support the subjects, which are the workers here. span>

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