Friday, June 28, 2013

Robotic Snap Snap Snap, or Inspired Image Creation?

It was our regular photo club meeting—well attended as usual.  This, our monthly opportunity to see a slide show of images from the club members while a critiquer comments and makes suggestions for improvement.  As is typical for these meetings, we had two theme categories.  The first grouping of shots taken from our club's monthly outing, which in this case happened to have been the South Coast Botanical Garden.  The second themed group of images were taken in response to the assignment "Low Perspectives".  (the images I've include here were my submittals to this second category)

Our critiquer was a relatively new club member, but a long-time professional photographer--I'll call him John.  John did a great job.  He's kind, insightful, and has a wealth of knowledge and experience to share, which he willingly and frequently does.  As is often the case with our various rotation of critiquers, John had something positive and encouraging to say about every single image, even those that didn't seem to have an immediate appeal.  What impressed me about John and the way he handled this was his recognition that most people need, want, and deserve that sort of encouragement otherwise they might just quit and not have the motivation to learn, try harder, and get better.  And after all, this is a hobby for most of us, and if it isn't fun, then what's the point?  Anyway, he did include some minor constructive criticism also so they got a little something to go work on.  For the “better” images, he provided some really good feedback, never being cruel, but never holding back either.   His comments contained the information you wanted/needed to hear because with it, you knew you would learn and could improve.

As the evening went on, something struck me about the two themed grouping of images.  Partly because I was looking to validate a theory, and partly because I think it was true, I noticed that the theme of Low Perspectives led to quite a number of forced images--shots you wouldn't have taken except for the need to satisfy the theme.  That’s not necessarily bad, but I think illustrates an interesting challenge that we have as photographers, and that a professional photographer has to deal with day in and day out…

That is, if you're an enthusiast or casual photographer, you have the luxury of going around and only stopping to take pictures if some catches your attention or interests you.  And when it interests you, you're typically in the mood and mindset to make the best image possible and you employ all the skills and expertise you have.  On the other hand, if you’re told (paid) to go take images of something, there's a natural tendency (which you must resist) to simple go out and snap snap snap as if you're picking up milk on a supermarket run.  Instead, you have to be creative, inventive, and imaginative, and approach assignment-photography with the same interest and passion, that is, if you want to end up with stunning and impactful images—whether that’s portraiture, sports illustrated, fashion, products, etc...

Because of that, assignment-photography is one of the best ways to help an amateur photographer get better.  It forces you to think and plan and work a scene in order to create an interesting image--a process which takes practice.  And it's in this active work mode that the best habits are formed, so that when you're out "free-styling", those same skills will be there to go along with your natural interest in the subject matter being photographed.  No more snap snap snap!

Comments or feedback?  Email me at  and also feel free to check out my website gallery at

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Hey, I Found Out I'm a Photo Stylist Now!!

One of the great joys in photography is seeing one of your images printed, published, and shared.  Next to that is the joy of helping someone else get their image published.  Such was the case this week when a fellow photo club friend of mine had his image appear as a two-page spread in the July 2013 issue of Angelino Magazine.  A nice article accompanied the photograph and credit was given in the magazine to the photographer and to the "stylist"…that would be me!!

How all this started is a fun story.  I saw my friend post some images on social media a couple of months ago from a trip he made to the Getty Center.  One particular image caught my attention as having incredible potential.  It was already a great photo, but I saw some things that I would edit if it were my image,  and I also felt that a black and white version would make for an interesting presentation.  So I took a screen shot of his image, applied my edits, and sent it to him suggesting it as an alternative interpretation.
My first step was to perform all of edits (retaining the image's color).  I tonemapped that image as well to enhance the color saturation, luminosity, and overall tonal range...fairly radical edits.  Once I finished that, I converted the image to black and white and gave it some additional tweaks.  Sometimes people are put off by you touching their art this way, but thankfully he was delighted, and in fact was so happy with what I had done, that he thought the dance troupe might be interested in seeing it.  That turned out to be an understatement.

Once the dance troupe saw the image, I understand they were so excited that they got in touch with the Angelino Magazine editors who also like it and decided they wanted to run it as a two-page spread in their next issue.  Once they contacted me for press-ready artwork, I went back and got the original image from my friend so I could recreate the edits and post processing changes on a full resolution image file.  The rest is history…the image looks spectacular in the magazine, and I was thrilled to have had a small part in the accomplishment of helping my friend get published.  He has been very generous in sharing the spotlight with me--great photographer, great character.

By the way, if you're interested in checking out the on-line version of the July issue of Angelino Magazine, you can follow this link:  The image can be found on pages 24/25 with the credit give to the photographer and the "stylist" on page 12.

As always, feel free to drop me a line at  if you have any comments or feedback. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Photographic Exhibition in Huntington Beach, CA

I will exhibiting photography at the Huntington Beach Central Library’s Windows Gallery as part of the Photographic Society of Orange County (PSOC) 2013 Windows Gallery Show.

Address: 7111 Goldenwest at Talbert Huntington Beach, Ca. 92649
Dates: June1 to June 29, 2013  Open during normal Library hours.

My photographs being displayed:
1. A Place for Reflection; Air Force Academy Chapel, Colorado Springs
2. Misty Morning Under Bridalveil Falls; Yosemite, California
3. Desert’s Sandstone Rainbow; Antelope Canyon, Page Arizona

I don’t know how many years the club has been doing this gallery show at the Huntington Beach Library.  The first time I even went to it was last year, and that wasn’t during their reception but was on one of the days during the month-long exhibition. 

So last night’s attendance at the reception was a first.  There must have been over 150 people there!  They had deserts and wines (which I knew they would because of the planning at the Board Meeting).  There were name tags for everyone (which we use at our regular club meetings) and also those blank adhesive name labels for guests to put their names on.  The display of the images and the area of the library where this is set up is very nice.

If you have an opportunity to swing by during the month of June, you won’t be disappointed with what you see.