With modern cameras having incredible resolution and dynamic range, we all obsess over sharpness and the tonality of our images and how flexible the raw files are. But when broken down, what really makes a good portrait? Is it the perfect focus on the eye or a subtle transition of highlight to shadow from a massive softbox? As with all things, what defines a good portrait can go out of style. This was an interesting wake up call when a friend asked me to create an early 20th century style portrait of him.
Articles written by Spencer Lookabaugh
In various forms of photography, being able to composite several photos into one final image is an important skill set. In the world of portraiture, composites are often used to create group shots in which the lighting situation is difficult or not every subject of the photo is available at one given time. Here I’ll show my process for blending several shots of people into a final image.
I recently travelled to the local racetrack with my brother for an open track day and decided that while he was out riding, I would try to make a few portraits of the other attending riders. I spent plenty of time ahead of the trip planning lighting, gear, locations, and more. This is a step by step walkthrough of how I created this series of portraits.
Fuji is, at this point, the last major manufacturer to not have TTL, high-speed sync, and wireless control support from most major lighting manufacturers. Profoto and Elinchrom have now made wireless remotes specific to Canon, Nikon, Sony, and Olympus. Fuji, even with their new medium-format monster, the GFX 50s, has yet to get such love from the lighting community. While I can imagine that something is in the pipeline from these manufacturers for Fuji, nothing is certain and many of us need something to work with right now. Enter the Nissin Air system.
The film versus digital debate has raged on for over a decade now. Digital cameras are so capable that it seems silly for anyone to go back to an archaic medium like film. Film is slow, expensive (sort of), lacks many game-changing features found in today's digital cameras, and has lower resolution (sort of). But it has some qualities to it that make it an entirely viable medium for working photographers and enthusiasts alike. One of which that I firmly believe in is that it will make you a better photographer.
Almost every photographer has created some sort of personal project in their time. In fact, many photographers’ work is comprised entirely of personal projects. Rarely though do I see projects that are truly personal. I mean that in the sense of their projects having a real emotional connection to the photographer that easily shows through in their images. Small Steps Are Giant Leaps, a father/son project started by photographer Aaron Sheldon and his son Harrison, is one of those projects.
Are you a fashion or beauty photographer looking to get your work out into the world? Well PDN (Photo District News) is at it again with their annual fashion and beauty contest. The Look is a contest, open to anyone, that aims to showcase the most talented fashion and beauty images from around the world. Entries are now open and running until June 8th, 2017.
Fstoppers is at it again with another amazing tutorial. This time, Clay Cook is bringing his talent as an advertising and editorial photographer to the table. Based in Louisville, Kentucky, Cook has worked for a variety of local, national, and international clients. However, his work all maintains a common visual style regardless of the end publication, whether it be printed in The Voice of Louisville or used globally by ESPN. Fashion and Editorial Portrait Photography brings you Cook’s start to finish workflow, including his process of working with a retoucher, to show you how you can create similar, amazing images using these techniques.
There’s no phrase I dislike more in the photo world than "I’m a natural light photographer." Believe me, I love natural light more than anything. It’s simple and easy to work with, and you don’t need to worry about bringing a ton of gear with you. But very rarely will just unmodified natural light work. It’s the unfortunate truth of photography (unless you’re a landscape photographer, you lucky bastards). Most photographers will use a flash to do what natural light can’t. Sadly, many don’t use it to great effect. If you want your portraits, or any image with mixed lighting to look better, there are a few key things to keep in mind when you’re on location.
Like many photographers during the digital revolution, the idea of being able to capture high-quality video with my stills camera has always been enticing. Filmmaking is a different way to tell a story entirely, because of the addition of context. While a still photograph can certainly be moving, influential, and captivating, a motion picture allows for the beginning, middle, and end of a story to be shown in a constant visual style.
I started my journey in photography back in 2011. Since then, there are only a handful of photographers that I have really paid attention to in terms of actively keeping up with their work. One of those photographers is Commercial Photographer Dave Hill. His work has taken a more drastic turn in just a few years than any photographer that I’ve followed. That’s one of many reasons that I reached out to Hill to chat about his work and photography.
While it certainly wasn't my first time using one, a recent shoot I did for TEDx at the Ohio State University made me realize how much easier life is with a light meter. For almost all the time I've spent behind cameras, I've been creating portraits. And for most of that time, I've been using flash. Starting out, I would just shoot and tweak power settings and my aperture and the light placement until I got what I wanted. As an amateur, it worked. But once I decided that photography was a career for me and as I began picking up client work, this method became quite ineffective, forcing me to get the one tool I never realized I needed.
This is more or less the camera that started film photography for me. Since developing an appreciation for Joey L’s work, I wanted to shoot medium format. The focus falloff and rendering was just so surreal compared to full-frame and crop-sensor cameras that I had been shooting with. Unfortunately, the cost of entry was a little steep for a digital back. After doing some research I stumbled upon film 645 cameras. And so it began.
Many of you are familiar with Ted Forbes and his popular YouTube channel, "The Art of Photography." Personally, I’ve always appreciated his candid nature and helpful attitude towards anyone and everyone on their photographic journeys. From his videos covering various film cameras to the philosophy of certain photographic pioneers, he has produced some incredibly helpful, honest content. Furthering that, his newest video tackles the idea of creating photographs or a body of work that has lasting importance.
I’ll admit that I’m in a creative rut. And like any photographer that feels frustrated, there’s only one thing to do: go in a different direction. For well over a year I’ve been shooting hardly anything besides studio portraits. While I love that genre and the work that I’ve created in that time, I feel like my work has hit a wall creatively. After watching several photographers and filmmakers doing these a-photo-a-day projects, I decided to give it a go in 2017.
The idea of a travel tripod causes hesitation. On one hand, you have a size that makes bringing a tripod on location no longer a physical strain. On the other, these tripods tend to be thin, causing them to be less sturdy than larger, thicker tubed tripods. The key to a good travel tripod is striking a balance of size and strength. For the past few years, MeFOTO has been the leading brand in travel tripods with their wide selection of sizes. Their introductory line of tripods offered everything from tabletop height to a full size 64" tripod. With their newest release, they seem to be pushing the boundaries of how small a tripod can really be.
I have had the blessing and curse of having too many photos to edit in the past few months. I've had plenty of opportunities to improve my work with the high frequency of shoots, but it's caused me to feel buried. During a typical shoot, I'll take between 250-400 photos. With each light setup, I'll take a few shots to ensure it's just how I want it, then I'll start directing my model. I strive for 3-4 solid shots per setup, one of which will end up being the final image. Both myself and my hard drives are feeling the pressure. In order to make sure that everyone gets their photos in a reasonable timeframe, I've adopted a new workflow for my editing.
Some of you might not consider what you do as art, but as a photographer, you're an artist. A lot of small pieces and parts come together to make your images what they are, and that process of deciding everything from the model, to the clothing, the lens choice, to the lighting, is an artistic one. Many genres of photography are heavily dependent on other artists; portrait photographers need models and more than likely a makeup artist and stylist to bring their vision to life. Networking is key to our work in order to meet people that we trust to help us craft our images.
Camera resolutions are soaring in recent years, with Canon unleashing a 50-megapixel DSLR and Phase One showing off the new XF 100MP back. The unending argument of why manufacturers bother with such resolution swirls around one thing: printing. Photographers argue that a higher resolution camera will produce a better print with more detail. Technically, that is absolutely true, but most photographers aren't printing much these days.
The beauty of studio shooting is that you have absolute control over every aspect of your final image. From makeup, to the general lack of ambient light to deal with, to the subject in front of your camera, everything is up to you. This can bring some challenges _ namely, you as the photographer are also the director of the entire shoot. If something isn't going right, it's your responsibility to fix it. I apply this to everything in life, but it's especially relevant in assembling a successful shoot. Remember the six Ps of life: proper planning prevents piss-poor performance.