See this picture above? It’s a sign of the times.
When I do street photography, one of my aims is to get a feel of where a community may be going. Of many things, actually, I have an interest in or concern about the future. I suspect that it’s partly due to my growing up in a heightened state of future shock throughout my adolescence.
I’ve written about paradigm shifts in the visual art world and communications before, and it’s because of my interest in the future why I’ll keep on doing it from time-to-time.
We’ve all seen sports games, news reports or magazine articles and ads showing professional photographers, and observed the prolific use of DSLR cameras and super long Canon L Series lenses. That really wasn’t too long ago but then, a strange thing happened. We started hearing about how people were getting into shooting wedding photography and just about anything because they just picked up the latest iPhone, iPad or other smart mobile device that made it possible for them to record these things.
Sure enough, some of us laughed. The photography capabilities and versatility of smart phones and all, however, has already advanced far enough to make them real competition for the long line of responsive, sharp, image stabilizing DSLR’s and interchangeable lenses that have been deemed exclusively pro equipment for quite some time now.
As I use a fibre optic TV service that allows me rewind and pause live television, I felt compelled to shoot the above picture of my television screen at the time my local news channel was talking about the release of Hillary Clinton’s book ‘What Happened’. The publishing engagement was not so much why I shot this picture. It’s what I saw occur during the event that inspired me to grab my DSLR to capture this shot and write this blog post. I saw a room full of reporters and journalists holding up nothing but layered smart mobile devices to record the event. There wasn’t a single DSLR (never mind an SLR) in the crowd.
The sight, and realization of how photographic technology continues to advance in major waves — somewhat impressively yet kind of scarily at the same time, even inspired me to make the following comparative shot with the Galaxy S5 I’m still using. We’re only nearing the end of 2017 folks! You might actually want to mark this occasion on a calendar because you’ve gotta be wondering what’s coming next, and by when.
When I think of big trees, oaks like this one with sprawling elastic branches usually come to my mind before the tall spruce, redwoods and baobabs. Sure, I’m fascinated by those and many more but there’s something about a big old oak that makes me feel like I’m in the presence of wisdom. As though the tree harbors an intelligent soul that can impart grand knowledge of many years of experience to me, if I just be quiet and listen.
It took a merge of 41 pictures to make this composition of being sheltered beneath the crown if this southern live oak. This massive beautiful tree grows in the front yard of the First Presbyterian Church on North Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach, SC. Hardly wizened and enchanted but probably as close as anyone could truthfully get.
The Bertotti Family
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Bertotti’s; Stacey, Jim and their daughters Grace and Megan for the recent opportunity to get to know and photograph them in hot and sunny Myrtle Beach, SC. Yes, before hurricane season. You are a tremendously beautiful family.
This family portrait session was originally planned for the evening as the sun sets; weather permitting, but as the forecast called for thunderstorms, we rescheduled for the following morning between 6:30 and 7:30 AM.
The dawn was beautiful on the beach with contrasting golden light, a gentle light diffusing mist to the north, and large Cumulus castellanus clouds over the Atlantic that I really wanted to take advantage of. To tone down the contrast, I used a single off camera strobe reflected off of a single brolly for fill flash.
We spent approximately an hour and a half working through posed and candid shots, and the rest was post-prod in Lightroom once I returned to home base here in Hamilton.
On another note; and as I have no other post to logically say this in; to all of the Texans and Floridians who have endured Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, respectively, hello from Canada. We hear you. More help is on the way.
This is why I started this blog series. To rediscover this 2D aspect of figurative illustration, and share the process of rediscovery with anyone interested. This is me getting back to my artistic roots.
Everyone on the planet has seen many examples of figurative illustration whether they are familiar with the term or not. Figurative illustrations (FI’s) have likely been created since ancient civilizations have been trying to comprehend, construct and mimic the physical shape of things. FI has been steadily refining ever since.
Just to thwart a common misconception. FI is technically not the same thing as figure drawing or figure painting. The latter two are recognized as fine art as opposed to commercial art, and exclusively involve depictions of the human form in all realistically possible postures and making all realistically possible gestures. The commonality between the latter two and the commercial art of FI is that they all frequently feature the human form. FI; however, is not limited to the human form. It includes representations of animals and inanimate objects of all shapes and sizes.
That word representation is important in the description of FI because it indicates that the free expression of human imagination can play a critical role in the creation of artwork. Through FI, I can illustrate something fictitious. A fictitious world full of fictitious landscapes and fictitious cities inhabited by fictitious creatures that utilize fictitious technologies.
Obviously from this realization, it is representation in the visual arts that give way to the development of narrative art that I love so much. Narrative art is artwork that tells a story either through a single piece of artwork or a series of pieces — either an entire story, more than one story or part of one story. Anyone who has enjoyed reading a comic book, the work of Beatrix Potter or looking at paintings by Peter Paul Rubens (fine art) or Jacek Malczewski (fine art again) has an appreciation for narrative art and FI. Anyone who has made a comic book, comic strip, fine or commercial art drawing, painting, photograph or sculpture that tells a story about anything representational has created narrative art and FI.
I have always relished this genre of illustration the most. FI is my specialty as a 2D visual artist. This is the avenue in which illustration becomes most imaginative, expressive and liberating. As you can probably tell by now, FI also has the highest potential of producing either commercial art or fine art.
PRE-WEDDING EVENT PLANNING AND COVERAGE
When selecting a wedding photographer and a package, you have options. Those options are largely contingent on your wedding photography budget and time. Below, I’m going to briefly talk about some important pre-wedding day events that you may want a photographer to be included in for either recording or observing for planning purposes.
Talk about a big occasion; when a bride gets to hunt down the wedding dress of her dreams while bonding with her approving family members.
If you like to watch television shows like Say Yes to the Dress, right away you can see the benefit of having a photographer follow you around to one or two stores while dress shopping – preferably one, just one!
Be very careful when booking this with your photographer. Some bridal boutiques absolutely forbid photography in their places of business for copyright reasons, even with an assurance that you’ll be purchasing a dress and/or bridesmaid gowns from that store. The strict measure of security isn’t just for their business but also for the designers who supply them with garments. If you have one or two salons in mind for shopping, call ahead and ask about their photography policy before booking with a photographer.
If having a photographer accompany your entourage is permitted during your salon appointment, keep in mind that the majority of your shots will be candid. Not too many can be posed and taking up the valuable time of sales staff.
Depending on laws in your region, you may or may not have to obtain model releases or unpaid model releases from salon consultants who may or may not wind up in your shots. Some regions stipulate that because a person or location is not a focal point of photography, it isn’t necessary to obtain written permission. So, ask the store if any staff members may object to being photographed even by happenstance.
Bridal showers today are changing like the experience of looking for a wedding dress. Traditionally, we Y-chromos shouldn’t dare show our faces at a bridal shower but as times are changing, the brief presence of a very close father, brother, son, nephew or male friend has become almost commonplace. Even the groom can be invited or expected to briefly appear just before the bride opens her gifts. If a bridal shower has to be recorded, this door has to remain open if a bride’s photographer is male. The fix to that, of course, is to hire a female photographer. The matter will be completely taken out of your hands; however, if you don’t plan on having a shower but your friends and family throw a surprise shower for you anyway.
If you want your photographer to be at your bridal shower, you need to nail down the date, location, time of the party and how long you want the photographer to shoot for during consultation. As usual, the number of hours your photographer will spend will directly impact your costs.
It’s either during consultation or – even better, after you’ve hired your photographer, that you should discuss or provide your photography want list. This is a list of memorable moments that you definitely want captured at the event provided the situations arise to either shoot them candidly or if you want them staged. Like when your mother had fun wrapping you up in toilet paper. Well . . . maybe not that unforgettable moment.
Similarly, either during consultation with a photographer or sometime after hiring, but well before the wedding day, are good times to introduce a wedding photographer to the best man, maid of honour, wedding planner or anyone who will be instrumental in helping you identify people and moments to photograph.
Stag and Doe
Also known as the buck and doe, stag and drag, hen and stag, and Jack and Jill. I know that you get it; I just like to say those names. I like the way they roll off the tongue. A stag and doe party is what you might have instead of bachelor and bachelorette parties. In the latter, you get sloshed. In the former, you get sloshed but people pay you good tax-free money and gifts for it. Hey, if you’re thinking of making this a new career move, never mind!
Really, there are good reasons to not have neither a pro nor amateur photographer shoot at a stag and doe. For one, these events are usually held on evenings and in places where the lights are dim. This means that an exorbitant amount of flash will likely to have to be used, even if your photographer is willing to shoot with a fixed focal length lens in hopes of not having to strobe. The frequent flashes can become annoying to you and your guests.
The resulting pictures are often likely to come out with people looking pasty-faced. Preventing or overcoming poor exposures requires a lot of technological slight-of-hand while shooting, and a lot of post-production work in the studio. That post-prod will drive up your costs.
For another reason, many of these parties are known to involve the wedding couple, certain family members and friends getting themselves plastered. Trust me, no matter how nice and fun people may try to be when well under the influence, nobody looks good in any photograph when they’re bombed. If a drunken fight breaks out, pff! Never mind!
If the lighting of your party venue is unlikely to stress out your photographer, guests will be on good behavior and you’re determined to have him or her shoot your buck and doe (that sounds bad, I know; like I’m talking about game hunting or something), then as with a bridal shower, you should get your want-lists in early.
If you hold bachelor and bachelorette parties on the same day, I or any other solo wedding photographer can only shoot one or the other. If you are determined to have both events photographed, then we will subcontract another photographer or photographer’s apprentice. Keep in mind that, that will also increase your costs.
Wedding Rehearsal and Rehearsal Dinner Party
Rehearsals for the wedding ceremony and the reception are important. While there are many who like to have behind-the-scenes candid shots made from their rehearsals, many don’t. Even when they don’t want pictures taken, it is a very good idea to have your photographer attend your rehearsals for picture planning purposes.
I attended one wedding rehearsal in which I was even helpful with the planning aspects beyond the photography. For my benefit, I kept track of how many minutes it was to take the bride to exit her limousine and walk to the alter. I kept track of how long it took to complete the ceremony. I tracked the time it took for the bride and groom to leave the alter, walk to where the receiving line was to start, and how long it took for guests to follow.
What was originally thought to be semantics was actually seen as extremely important details of time when I shared my POV with the bride and her planner. The reverend even commented how I was on the ball. The necessary adjustments were made to ensure that event on the actual day went smoothly.
That’s what rehearsals are for. Everyone who has a critical stake in making the wedding day beautiful, fluid and memorable should attend the rehearsal.
If I don’t have to shoot at a rehearsal, I don’t have to travel too far and there aren’t any conflicts with my other responsibilities, I will attend rehearsals free of charge.
This is my quirky intro to a new unlimited blog series on portrait photography. Every now and then, I’ll share my thoughts on this genre, reveal some tricks of the trade, answer some questions and even learn some things that I didn’t know before. Hopefully, I’ll inspire others who love portraiture beyond the selfie.
Although I had been doing both illustration and photography since various stages of my childhood and adolescence, I entered the professional art world mainly as an illustrator. My professional photography career didn’t start until much later.
My wife has told others that my getting back into photography many years ago, especially street photography and portraiture, socially “brought me out of my shell.” Yes, I’ll explain . . .
It’s common for most of us to throw certain words around too freely without a satisfactory understanding on their definitions. Antisocial and introverted are two such words that various others have used to describe me. Which is quite interesting because I’m quite sure that an antisocial personality cannot also be an introvert, and vice-versa. It is because of this fairly frequent labeling why I have actually spent years studying and re-studying the differences.
In psychology, antisocial personalities and introverts are far more complex than their most simplified, laymen descriptions. It’s my understanding that the most accurate difference between the two personalities in laymen’s terms, however, are that antisocial personalities harbor unreasonable and unprovoked absolute hatred for others or a profound lack of care for others wellbeing. Introverts, on the other hand, possess and unreasonable fear of others draining them of their personal sense of security and strength.
I’ve never been a hate monger, and at times have allowed myself to become too concerned with others wellbeing. That takes the antisocial factor right out of the picture.
Although I don’t like crowds, I haven’t had much of a fear of any singular person or group of people since early childhood and have often sought out groups to either study people from a distance or interact with them. I’m somewhat one of those annoying freaks who want to see the whole wide world become loving, happy and sharing together. Actually, I learned the hard way early in life that my boldness and sense of gaining strength from engaging others had to be reined in through religion, martial arts training and reading psychology and sociology. I can remember my mother repeatedly telling me when I was a kid, “Son, in this world, if you keep trying too hard to be liked you’ll see that people will get tired of you.” So, I’m not introverted either.
Part naturally, and partly because of many personal experiences — very good ones and very bad ones, I happen to be another misunderstood animal known as a loner.
Like the antisocial personality I do not embarrass easily. I will proudly take on responsibilities and practices that are regarded by most others as unpopular but are neither criminal nor clearly offensive in any way. Like singing in public even though I’m not a recognized professional singer or willing to be a police officer arresting someone for committing a misdemeanor in order to ensure social order. I’m also not easily bullied or peer pressured, and I require restraint when it comes to opposing real predatory and menacing personalities who enjoy hurting others in any way.
Like the true introvert, I have definitely always been energized by solitary and creative pursuits. Hey, if you didn’t already know it, I’m a visual artist. I’m also highly selective as to who I allow to get close to me.
So, there it is. I’m a loner. I enjoy others but I don’t have to have a lot of friends, be adored, be the center of attention or the life of the party to feel a sense of security or importance. I function extremely well on my own. In being a loner, I am a quiet, reserved individual who is constantly scrutinizing and filtering every aspect of the social universe.
It’s because I refrain from engaging in small talk and gossip, and it’s likely very obvious that my BS-detector is frequently going off, why I get labeled as antisocial or introverted by those who want me to behave as they do.
All of this is what my wife means when she tells people that photography has “brought me out of my shell.” Photography, especially the genres of street photography and portraiture, is a discipline in which she sees me interact with people much more than usual.
Speaking of interaction and portraiture, if you’re interested in having me photograph you, don’t be antisocial and curtail your introversion. Contact me, and let’s see if we can get creative together.
This introductory post will be used as a links page to all subsequent related entries:
When my wife and I drove from Canada to South Carolina, we ran into an arborist in Myrtle Beach. I told him that Spanish moss was on my list of things to photograph. He responded by telling me to take as much as I needed with me. Well, South Carolinians may be tired of the moss hanging off of their trees but it doesn’t get old for me.
I didn’t physically take any moss home. I wouldn’t dare try to get that past customs officials. I, nevertheless, did succeed in making this HDR composition out of 19 photos shot in Myrtle Beach State Park. The evening was setting in, and I was really drawn to how the fiery sunlight filtered through the scant amounts of moss that hung on what I believe was a very tall oak that I am not familiar with. Plus, other elemental conditions of the natural environment, like the humidity bleached sky, provided me with an opportunity to create an image out of part of the forest canopy that is just slightly abstract and expressionist.
Focussing on these visual elements allowed me to experimentally direct attention away from the good earth, which is rare for a landscape.
2D visual artist specializing in illustration, photography and graphic design.