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The Lighting Tells The Story, and The Story Tells The Lighting

Those who have studied lighting - especially for theater or motion pictures, know well the mantra that "The lighting tells the story." Simply put: No matter what kind of camera or lens is used, who the actors are, or who wrote the script, it is the light that ultimately creates what we see. That is the cutting edge of the knife. However, the more I think about this, the more I would change it a bit...
"The lighting tells the story - and the story tells the lighting."
It is a reciprocal thing. The way something is lit does create emotion, and makes the viewer feel the story through their eyes. We draw conclusions and fill in details based on the way what we see is illuminated. But that moment itself must also dictate the lighting: What quality of light is needed to do the telling? Where would it be coming from? What color is this light? Is it one solid wash, or should it be broken up in mottled shadows?  All of these things are going to be determined by what story tha…
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The Light on The Street is...

I love night photography. Something about a photograph made at night embodies the Cinematic. Traditional still portrait photos are shot in airy, well lit studios. Movies have night scenes on location. I want my images to look like movies. For me, that often comes down to creating the look of night, rather than capturing it using only whatever light is available and adjusting the camera accordingly.      Over the last few years, I have noticed a number of films where much of the action takes place in a night-scape lit by the orange/amber glow of sodium streetlights. While I had never been a fan of that light in real life, I decided to try my hand at creating the look for a photo project. Since using real sodium streetlights would mean either a very high (and grainy) ISO, or long, long, long shutter speeds, I determined pretty early on that I would be using flash. I will spare you all of the technical details of why using flash to replicate street light is a challenge, but I will say tha…

A Picture is Worth How Much? (Part II)

After a long two year absence from this blog, I feel the need to write a post on some recent rumblings which - by the time you read this, may be either old news, or a never ending story. In essence it is a follow up to my last post of February 2014, in that it follows the same line of thought, but adds a new variable to the equation.
Firstly, I took two years away from photography due to family responsibilities. While I could write a whole run-on blog post about being a care-giver for an elderly parent, it falls quite far afield of my purpose here, so I'll just say that the time away from the camera has allowed me to see my work for what it is (or was) more clearly, and to redefine what it needs to become and where I want to go with it in the days ahead. Call it a "forced introspection," it leads me to the point I want to make now.
In my previous post I ruminated on how the preponderance of photographic images has led to a 'devaluation' of photography. Sort of a…

A Picture is Worth How Much..?

Most of the entries I have written on this blog consist of me rambling about my latest project, or why “Cinematic Style” photography is the coolest thing in the history of cool things and how the entire planet should be digging it,  blah, blah, blah. This one will be a little different. This one is for all of us out there who call ourselves photographers – be it part time, full time, commercial, wedding, or what have you. This one is for all of us in the business. Because the business is changing.

Lately I hear more and more about litigious clients, people trying to pit photographers against each other, and stupid schemes to get photographers to work for free. Over and over we see people stealing someone’s photo, cropping out the watermark, and using it for their own purposes; as if that were a perfectly acceptable  practice among normal, thinking humans. The photography community is understandably confounded by this and is becoming increasingly (and rightly) vocal about these things c…

Dream a Little Dream...

Whether you saw the movie Inception and loved it, or hated it, (I loved it) you have to admit - they made the dream sequences very interesting. Maybe not as stylized and bizarre as they could have been, but that might have distracted from the story line at hand. Personally, I loved the moment when the Cobb character explains to Ariadne: "...Dreams, they feel real while we're in them, right? It's only when we wake up that we realize that something was actually strange."
It always struck me how true that is: The things we see and take as perfectly normal in a dream, are really outlandish when we see them through the filter of our waking normality. A person walking down a street transforms into a scurrying mouse on the curb, which soon becomes an eagle lifting off to become a small airplane ascending into the sky. As it begins to then transmute into a huge jet airliner, somehow, through all of that, we understand - we just "know" - that the person we saw walkin…

Some Old Bricks

"Use the bricks of the ruins to build a new castle." -- Unknown
I remember having heard this many years ago. Using bricks from an old ruin to build a new castle. I understood the idea that was being put forth. I've even encouraged any number of people over the course of time to 'dust off and move ahead' using the same allegory. Sort of a more eloquent way of saying "If life hands you lemons..." 
Only now do I somewhat understand how it applies to art, and photography.
It is incredibly easy to have an idea in your head that you cannot seem to shake. No matter how many times you try to make it work and fail to get it right. No matter how many times you do it over and over and still walk away unsatisfied - that idea remains like an ever-clanging bell somewhere in the distance. Just when you thought you have left it to the past, it comes back, wanting to be heard. Here - I have learned - is the key: Perhaps it was not the idea that was weak, but merely that …

The Soul of Photography

       Recently, due to a major family crisis and several other issues that came rushing in on me all at once, I was pulled away from "my own" photography. I phrase it that way because as those in the business know, you can be contracted / paid to do photography; but it might not be the work that you will later gauge your progress as an artist with.
       In that time 'away' I was able to step back and take an honest look at my work. To see it more objectively than I had in the past. To realize that some things worked - and some things did not. Some ideas needed to be refined; to metamorphose to their next logical form. And others simply needed to be pruned away. Such realizations are not easy when we are so closely "married" to our creative vision.
       I think it is important for all who aspire to be photographers to reach this stage - perhaps many times. We need to step back every now and then and really, honestly look at what we are doing and ask ourse…