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There’s Nothing New to Shoot

I sometimes hear this comment, particularly from landscape photographers. Usually it happens when things don’t quite come together.

I’ve been there too, though I have always felt that I had an advantage as I am a people shooter. Conveniently, no two people are alike. Instant diversity!

Of course, on reflection,  they do call it the “ever-changing landscape”, so maybe these guys have as much variety as I do. Drat.

But like the landscape guys, this doesn’t mean that because everyone is different that each photograph is awesome. Oh if that were only true (and that easy). The fact is, not everyone is so willing to give it up for the photographer, or that the photographer is always on his game. You need both to come up with something that doesn’t look like I work for the DMV. Finding something new, even to a people shooter like me, is work. Hard work.

One of the challenges I face is to try and draw out the personality of the subject and demonstrate this in the photograph. It’s not always easy, and it is something that I need continued improvement in, but when it works it is wonderful. It makes a unique and powerful image, one appreciated by both the subject and the viewer.

Often the best photographs are the ones that were not planned.

This image I love; it is sensitive, understated, and yet at the same time is loaded with personality. It was taken as a “safe” image before the actual shoot. In other words, the concept for the shoot was in another genre, but we just decided to take it to test the lighting and before the heavy makeup was applied.

I did not fully appreciate this after I captured it. It was, after all, a “safe” shot. Nice. Ok. Time to move along.

It came alive in post production.

I liken it to the landscape photographer coming around a corner to the perfect light illuminating a scene. That “aha” moment we are pleasantly surprised with.

I blogged earlier about the lighting setup used for this image, a slight variation on my particular brand of “beauty lighting.” But it’s not the lighting that makes this image: it’s the expression, the implied innocence and honesty of the photograph.

We went on to shoot according to plan. But this image, more than the others, had staying power.

I have taken many photographs with this light. But this subject, at this time, in this mood, gave me something unique. I could put 20 other people in front of the camera and not come up with this image. Like the landscape, there is a time when the stars align. And yet, even those other 20 would give me something different every time. There is something always new. There is always opportunity.  It’s my job to find it.

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