Since I fell in love with portraiture I've daydreamed about traveling the world to take pictures of people. It's not a unique dream and it's not an overly farfetched dream, but it isn't a job that often comes up. One of the ways in which artists get commissioned to do something along those lines, however, is the Lavazza Calendar. It has seen the likes of Mark Seliger, Annie Leibovitz, and Steve McCurry behind the camera for them in recent years and this year, Joey L got the nod.
Articles written by Robert K Baggs
When LG invited me to their OLED exhibition at the Natural History Museum in London, my ears pricked up. This is for two reasons: the first is that a couple of years ago, I wrote a piece on OLED lighting and how I think it will change how photographers light their subjects in the coming years. The second is because, well, I love technology. LG's OLED 4K TVs and monitors are the epitome of digital clarity, and while I suspected that to be the case, seeing it in the flesh did more than confirm my suspicions.
Photography as a sector has been affected by shifting technology as much as – if not more than – any other industry. The biggest change is undoubtedly the availability of cameras compared to 50 years ago, with almost every human in the Western world having a camera within arm’s reach every waking second. This is met with nothing but doom and gloom by the commentators on the professional photography industry, but is all that negativity justified?
Many people have interesting stories of how they started photography; I do not. One of my chief motivators for starting was being a part of a car community in which a few members used to take macro photographs of insects. I was fascinated by the detail and intricacies of things I'd previously ignored, and so, I bought a cheap second-hand DSLR with a kit lens and a macro filter. After establishing that photography was the expensive mistress I'd always dreamed of, I decided to buy a proper macro lens and sought out advice on the right purchase for me. Then I bought the wrong one.
The world's most popular camera is the iPhone. That isn't news anymore, but it does highlight a number of interesting points about how people consume photography these days. Firstly, if people have a camera on their person that's readily available, they'll take pictures. Although this is somewhat obvious, it does draw the eye to one of the drawbacks of DSLRs and ILCs: size. They are both invariably too big to have on your person at all times, but what if that could be overcome?
High-end beauty photography requires images to be as close to perfection as humanly possible both in camera and in retouching. There's often a myth circulated that beauty editorials are so heavily Photoshopped that they are in essence all Photoshop. This is simply not the case.
I haven’t seen much on this topic, but a brief conversation with another photographer recently illuminated to me the fact that photographer anxiety is not at all uncommon. One of the reasons I believe it isn’t discussed a great deal is the general image of today’s top photographers.
Image sharpness is, for the most part, a false economy. It is mistakenly believed to be synonymous with image quality; that isn't the case. One major difference is that image quality has a ceiling and once reached (if that's even possible), the image cannot be any better in terms of quality. However, with the sharpness of an image, you can far exceed the perfect amount (again, if there is such a thing), and it begins to cost your image dearly.
You are going to fail because you cannot fight the chaos. I don’t believe that, but this article is very sensible and the real first line of this piece wasn’t catchy enough: structure, organization, and discipline are the foundations of being successful and self-employed. If my formative years were anything to go by, I was the antithesis of all three. Thankfully, determination and maturity seeped in and I became obsessed with how I could be the most productive, organized, and disciplined without a boss or a separate office building and with the constant lure of Netflix.
Beauty and fashion retouching has been controversial for so long that some of the argument's ground has been conceded. For example, skin retouching is rarely debated anymore and it's merely a "given" that someone in an advert or magazine will have had their skin corrected. However, criticizing body manipulation in Photoshop is very much still in vogue (if you'll excuse that glorious pun).
For years, I enjoyed cinematography and photography as almost non-overlapping magisteria. I was fully aware that they played by many of the same rules, but I didn't entertain the idea of extracting elements of cinematography and inserting them into my images until much later.
Photography changes year after year, but it's a gradual evolution. However, one area of photography that has been accelerating faster than the others has to be time-lapses. The videos have been getting longer, the shots more dynamic where a dolly is more common, and the quality is getting to the point of staggering. It seems that every frame could be pulled and used in a landscape portfolio. Adding to this trend is photographer Joe Capra with his 12K-resolution time-lapse of Los Angeles.
I remember, way back when I first started trying my hand at portrait photography, the cold realization that I didn't really know how to direct a shoot. I wasn't horrible at it, but I lacked confidence due to a lack of experience and I made a mental note to work on it. It's now years later and I'm still working on it and I will keep working on it until I stop picking up a camera. If you haven't already, you will quickly realize that how you act during a shoot is of the same importance as your technical ability.
Light painting is one of the rights of passage photographers have to try at some juncture. I enjoyed playing around with it in the early days, but what surprised me is I have used the techniques commercially on several occasions; from creating better backgrounds to my portraits in dark locations to capturing English Heritage sites. The importance of knowing how to light paint isn't necessary per se, but it does help you understand how light works and how your camera exposes a scene.
I'm not sure how many more times I can read the repugnant merging of two disparate words without writing a furious letter to someone, but I'll do my best to soldier on through. For any sentient being, the last few days have been filled with the word "Brexit," more so if you live on this little angry island I inhabit. The reach of the impact of this momentous event is both wide and largely unknown. That said, there's a very real chance it will affect many of us camera folk.
As much of a Game of Thrones fan as I am, the scene in Sunday's episode that has had everyone talking, "Battle for Winterfell" or "Battle of the Bastards," resonated with me for two reasons. The first is the same as most people who watched it: the scene was epic — not epic in the way kids these days use the word, but in the sense of it being truly gargantuan and awesome. The second reason was the curiosity of the photographer in me on how something of that scale could be shot.
Any time there is a case of nepotism in photography — like with Burberry and the oldest spawn of the Beckhams earlier this year — there is a colossal backlash and insatiable rage. In a time prior to refreshing social media four times an hour, although I could see the motivation for nepotism in fashion photography, it was tantamount to indefensible in my books. Now, however, I have a harder time working out why companies wouldn't favor their elite friendship circles for recruiting photographers.
Where studio portraiture often lacks in external interest and bokeh, it makes up for in image quality, clarity, and full light control. However, always shooting on a black or white backdrop is wildly limiting but having a whole host of different backdrops and changing them can be a pain in the proverbial. There is a much easier way to change your background completely in camera using only light and the right shade of gray.
It's not often someone contacts you about chemistry and superheroes, but when someone does, you pay attention. Nikolay of ArtNauka showed me a project they have been working on where they combine a superhero theme with chemical elements and reactions to create a series of striking portraits.