There are two characters that sit atop adjacent shoulders either side of my head and squabble over portraiture. One takes the form of my Gran and she sits there quietly knitting and ensuring me that rules are there for a reason and without them there would be chaos; she’s the voice of tranquillity, reason and over-feeding. Then, annexed on my opposite shoulder is James Dean wearing a leather jacket. He mocks my conformity assuredly and between drags of a cigar, James states that “what is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly” and “rules are there to be broken.”
This week we released the longest photography tutorial Fstoppers has ever produced; Joey Wright - Swimwear Photography: Lighting, Posing, and Retouching. Our entire team headed down to the island of Curacao for 10 days to film a variety of photography lessons ranging from how to pose models, how to use scrims, reflectors, strobes, and how to create portfolio worthy images with minimal gear. During this incredible journey the behind the scenes cameras never stopped rolling, and each week we will be releasing a new episode of all our adventures. This is episode 1!
Is Alexa Meade a painter or is she a photographer? Alexa's unique take on both mediums has completely blurred the idea of what is real and what is imagination. Traditional painting attempts to take a two dimensional medium and make it look 3D while photography does the opposite by capturing a 3D space and translating it to a 2D surface. Alexa's work throws both of these ideas into a blender and leaves the viewer wondering what is real and what is simply paint. The results are fascinating!
When a commercial photographer, Sasha Leahovcenco, decides to document the touching experience and life of people he has never met before, the result is quite astonishing. You would think pre-production played a huge part and that he had to have had exceptional gear, carried by a huge team, but the truth is far from that. The experience was the heart of this series, and the pictures show it well. Combining both journalistic and commercial genres with a very personal approach yields pictures we only wish we could see more often.
It’s easy to feel that we have great ideas for our images, but that we simply don’t have the budget to execute them to the standard we’re picturing in our minds. You should always try to find ways to be creative on a budget, so here’s how and why you don't have to spend a fortune to produce good results.
One of my favorite little quips to drop on my workshop attendees is "Did you know that models are, as it turns out, human?", which usually just yields a few chuckles. But the truth is, that is just my lead in and my way of sarcastically reminding model photographers that fashion and glamour models have opinions, preferences, and emotions as much as anyone else. Which is sadly something that seems to be overlooked in the often callus industries of fashion and glamour. To that end, I invited some Texas based pro models to sit down with Staci and I discuss the industry.
Recently, during my annual trek to Las Vegas for WPPI (wherein I arrive in the city of sin and proceed to actively avoid going to the actual expo because I book too many other things), I found myself in the deserts outside of Vegas with a Sony A7RII, a few bits of glorious Zeiss glass, no modifiers or lighting of any kind, and Renee Robyn as my model. Welp, guess it was time to see what Sony's dynamic range claims were truly about then.
Last week, I took a look at personal projects and showed how I created my most recent portrait series. These personal projects are a great way to grow as a photographer and create new work you have a passion for, as you have the opportunity to create images with full control of the visual style. However, they may not always require you to step out of your comfort zone. To expand your repertoire of photographic knowledge and to create a more diverse, yet consistent portfolio, you need to experiment.
Late last year, Playboy magazine announced that starting this month, March 2016, the publication would no longer - simply enough - feature nudity. This announcement was immediately received as shocking, welcomed, amazing, derided or just plain hated, depending on who you asked. Curious as to the impetus behind the format change, I asked Jarmo Pohjaniemi about it when we spoke recently, and have since heard from another Playboy master lensist, Ales Bravnicar, about the matter. Bravnicar and I also discussed his phenomenal career and his upcoming retrospective in an upcoming international Playboy edition.
In a way, your journey as a photographer will start out with personal projects. Everything that you shoot for those first few months or years are things that you choose to shoot for fun. Personal projects help you to learn, experiment, and grow as an artist. Actually organizing and creating a series, however, takes a little bit of planning. From brainstorming to gallery showings, I’m going to help you put together a game plan for your next personal project.
When I first saw the Love Wins project, I was moved by the beauty of the photographs and the important message that they represent. As a society, we have come a long way since Stonewall and the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, but there are still so many people in the world who have misconceptions and hatred of LGBTQ people. The Love Wins project is a series of portraits and stories that aim to bring consistent visibility to LGBTQ marriage in a positive light. Its entire premise is to showcase love, family, and equality. I had the opportunity to sit down with Gia Goodrich, the Portland, Oregon based photographer behind the photo project and find out what inspired her to create this collection of photos.
My high school enemy is my new best friend. I'm talking about a glorious thing called "tests." In the photo world, a test is a shoot set up for the sake of portfolio-building, experimentation, fun, or all of the above. It's not a paid shoot, but these suckers pay off big time. A test shoot is when you book a model (we'll talk about how) to shoot a concept that you put together. As I'm writing this, I actually have my journal open on my desk in mid-plan for a test that I'll be shooting later this month. Let's talk about a few reasons why testing is so important, how to find models, reach out to agencies, and what you need to do once your model is booked. Dig in!
Retouching is a great tool, one that can save pictures in some situations. However, there are a couple of things that can be really time-consuming and annoying to correct in post, two of them being flyaway strands and chapped lips. I am sure those two have happened to any of you who shoot portraits, beauty, or fashion. However, no need to fear these anymore! Jordan Liberty gives us his tricks to avoid them.
New York City born photographer/artist Roger Ballen spent the better part of the last four decades in Johannesburg, South Africa. In that time he has produced a body of work that has been described as a fictionalized visual dialogued between individuals, their architectural space, found objects, and domesticated animals. His approach has been hailed as among the most unusual and exciting developments in contemporary photography.
Lately, I've seen a surge of photographers complaining that they just don't know where to begin when getting started with portraiture. Taking that first step can be a daunting feeling, especially considering that you need to convince someone to take a leap of faith and model for you, despite your complete lack of a portrait portfolio. Personally, I never had a problem finding eager models; it came quite easily for me, so I figured now is a good time to share that experience and maybe give some soon-to-be amazing portrait photographers a little extra help in jumping out of the nest.