In my previous post I described how I have made a conscious effort to evolve my personal style away from where I was going until about a year ago. I felt my photographic style was too influenced by my stock photography work.
Here is an example of how I have approached evolving my style in the studio. In previous shoots I would have started with a lighting plan, set up all the lights and metered to get the exposure values I wanted. Then I would have tweaked things once the model was positioned.
For this shoot, I started with no lights. Once I had the model positioned, I added a light directly above the model. Why? Just because I don’t normally do that.
Then, I started placing other lights and looking at the effect that was developing. It wasn’t completely random—I had an idea of what I wanted to accomplish but it was very general. It was more along the lines of looking for dimensionality, contrast, perhaps a mood. It wasn’t specific in the way my work has been in the past.
The result is something beyond what I originally envisioned and nothing like what I would have shot two years ago. I think it’s much more sophisticated and evolved.
The work takes longer this way but I think it’s worth it.
This is the best selling stock photo I uploaded this year. I’ve found it used on line a few times — it seems to be popular with real estate agencies local to Scottsdale. It also seems to be popular with travel websites offering trips to Scottsdale.
This kind of image seems to be my best bet for making any money from stock photos in the current client. When every possible category of photo has been over-populated by literally millions of other photos, you have to shoot something no one else is shooting. That’s hard now because every one else is trying to do the same and the odds you can find a category that isn’t already over-run are small.
However, if you shoot what’s local to you (like streetscapes from your town, for example) that cuts down on the competition since only people who have been there can have that photo. It doesn’t mean you’ll have the niche to yourself but it helps.
When photographing a landscape or a building or some other location you ask yourself: what is the thing about that place that makes it that place. A place that isn’t any other place.
While driving aimlessly in San Diego last month, I came across an open spot in the Torry Pines Hills. It provided a view looking out over the beach at La Jolla. An impressive view at that.
I also noticed there was nearby parking. Parking had been a challenge all day so that made an impression.
I decided to come back closer to sunset and see what the conditions would be like.
Late that afternoon I set up the camera on my tripod at the viewpoint and waited. And waited. And waited.
I never did get the conditions I was hoping for but, as usual, I took about a hundred photos as the light changed through all it’s gradations as the sun went down.
I ended up with two photos of La Jolla that seemed to me to be fairly representational. The one above is the one I would choose to represent the place. It invokes for me the feeling I had when I was there.
The second photo (below) is more true-to-life. The first image is more photoshopped than the second. Even so, to me it says “California sunset at La Jolla” more than the other one.
why? I’m not sure. Maybe you know? Maybe you disagree?
If you follow my photoraphy you know that night photography is something of a specialty of mine. I’ve been asked by a local art group (Art Explorers on meetup.com) to host a night photography seminar. It will be at Tempe Town Lake on Thursday October 9th. I’m making it available to you as well for only $15! There are a limited number of slots available. Here are the details:
Join me at Tempe Town lake for an evening seminar on night photography. We will meet before sunset to discuss camera settings for low-light photography, dealing with issues like noise, grain, managing lens flares, etc. You’ll learn about how the light changes as the sun goes down and what to look for when shooting.
Then, we’ll put what we learn in to practice and shoot as the sun goes down and the light gradually changes making each photograph unique. I’ll help each participant with personal coaching and suggestions.
Night photography can be challenging but with just a little knowledge you can create spectacular images.
To participate, you’ll need a good camera and a sturdy tripod. Your camera must have the ability to control ISO, aperture and shutter times. Maximum shutter time on your camera should be 20 seconds or more. Your camera also needs a timer unless you have a cable shutter release or remote. Most digital SLRs will work great.
Register here: http://www.chriscurtisphotography.com/seminar/register.html
Found my stock photo in use here: http://hubcityworldseries.com/
That’s a pretty common result if you want to produce portfolio quality work. If you are an amateur who wants to work at a professional level, give some thought to your workflow and the time it will take to process your images. Then get out there and shoot!