Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Decisions, Decisions...

A photographer I know here in Charlotte, Brian Gomsak, recently wrote a blog article on whether or not photographers should specialize. That subject seems to come up frequently when photographers are gathered.

There are passionate supporters on both sides of the argument. I'm not 100% sure that I've decided what I should do, but I'm starting to see patterns in my own work that may indicate what I've already made the decision.

When I started my photography business, people would ask me "What do you shoot?" and my stock answer has always been rather cheeky --- "I'll shoot anything but porn... but if things get really bad, maybe I'll do that too." That was before the economy tanked. I haven't started shooting porn, but I've thought about it every time the bank account gets low.

So does this mean that I've been shooting everything and anything? Kind of. I'll try to capture just about anything. It's mainly figuring out how to make your subject look good or appropriate and that's a matter of controlling the light. But what do people hire me for? That is starting to narrow down to two things: people and flowers. Usually in black and white.

I love shooting flowers. Georgia O'Keefe hated flowers, but said "they're cheaper than models and they don't move." I don't hate flowers. I love flowers. I just have a brown thumb so the flowers I photograph aren't long for this world after I finish with them. Hopefully that doesn't take the shine off my flower work for you.

People are different. People can be a bit of a challenge. After all, they move and are possessed of their own opinions and insecurities. But their capacity and thirst for joy can be boundless. When I am blessed with capturing that moment of joy, it becomes infectious and I revisit those images as I work.

So have I made a conscious decision about what to specialize in? Not really. I think the work has found me.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Peeking Around a Tree

I kind of feel like I'm in the woods... peeking around a tree... and finally beginning to see the other end of the forest!
I finally made it to the halfway point in shooting my flower project. I've still got a long way to go, but at least getting to this point gives me the mental support to keep going.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

To Do List... Truncated.

So this is what I end up posting when I neglect to put "write Tuesday's blog entry" on the to do list.

Mysterious, no? Textural, definitely.

I've been racking my brain trying to come up with some new, subject appropriate backgrounds and I decided late last night as I was just about to drift off to sleep (because that's when my brain works most efficiently) that I needed moss. Mind you, I have no moss in my yard. I only have parched grass. Not too much in the way of shade either.

So on my weekly pilgrimage to the wholesale florist I asked "Do you happen to have any moss?", not really expecting what kind of reaction I would get. The kind lady behind the counter said "Yes... it's beyond those double doors."

I was halfway expecting to see a dense forest with elves & gnomes armed with shovels ready to assist me. But there just beyond the double doors were cardboard boxes of Mountain Moss and Sheet Moss and some other kind that I can't quite recall now. All neatly packed away but smelling funny... I can't quite figure out how to describe the scent other than it's not what I expected moss to smell like. Then again, I didn't think I'd find moss in prepackaged boxes.

But now I have my subject appropriate background. It sheds, but it works! Actually, it sheds so much my cat won't even touch it, but that's what vacuum cleaners are for.
Product shots with the moss background should be posted on my Etsy site by this time next week...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Individual Vision

I start new Intro to DSLR classes at the Light Factory this week. It's always exciting. I get to meet new people and share one of my greatest passions with them. Then I get to be there as they, hopefully, discover their own individual creative voices.

Sometimes they just struggle with comprehending what Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO are and how they combine as Exposure... but I usually get to at least see a glimmer of how these other individuals see the world. Sometimes people just want to know how a particular shot was achieved so they can shoot just like that. That's not what I'm usually hoping to pass along to people, but I'll give them the basics to see where they take it.

One of my favorite portfolio reviews was with photographer Brian Ulrich when he had an exhibit here in Charlotte. It was more like a visit than a formal creative critique. He really looked at every image I put in front of him and asked me questions about how, why and where I shot each frame.

Then he asked me why everything was always shot with a shallow depth of field. I had never really thought about it... Maybe it's because I have an astigmatism and the blur just registers as "normal" in my brain. Then he suggested I try shooting my normal subjects with a greater depth of field. I was aghast! Wouldn't that be the way someone else sees the world? Maybe. But I wouldn't know if I didn't at least give it a try.

So later that week I was working on my flower series and I tried it. I ended up liking it.
I still favor a fairly shallow Depth of Field, but I am trying more techniques. If they look like something that would come out of my mind, I keep them in my mental creative files. If not, they get filed in a different area... because the technique might perfectly express someone else's view of the world.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Thinking Outside the Full-frame Sensor

It's been about 2 weeks, 2 days, 23 hours and 50 minutes since I returned from Sean Kernan's mind-opening workshop in Maine. I'm still processing the experience in my head... trying not to slide back into old, sticky habits. But it's hard.

And that's all the whining I'm going to do on the subject! Because even though I'm back in my normal environment with all my creature comforts and obligations surrounding and insulating me, I still have this little voice throwing ideas across my mind that beg attention.
I've gotten several calls/emails/messages over the past several days asking how people can purchase note cards or necklaces. This prompted the recent production frenzy of said note cards and necklaces in which I'm currently swimming. Not a bad wake up call since it's something I enjoy doing and it's another way to express myself creatively. (Actually the only things I dislike about the process are getting glue all over my fingers and the smell of the solder.)
But even as I'm going through the motions that are so familiar to me, I keep going back to the concept of the Extended Photograph that Sean encouraged us to explore. An Extended Photograph provides an experience that goes beyond just the visual... It can incorporate any of the other senses that will get your message across to your audience. At least that's what I think it is.
I've got two ideas that are bouncing around in my head for my Extended Photographs, but I think for my own sanity I'll concentrate on just one of them for the next six months and see how it evolves.
Curious? So am I. Stay tuned...