Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Human Element and Romance of Photography

I have this awesome quote on photography from my buddy Ernest Wright. He said,

There's romance in photography. The way the images are made is easily as important as the pictures themselves.

While our conversation was in reference to the presentation of the images in my studio and the resulting impact they had on my clients, models, talent etc. that stepped through the door... this unforgettable quote really picked up mental traction when I started thinking about the entire process of creating a single image.

And how I had been neglecting the underlying "romance" in the creation of the image.

Sure the presentation of framed pictures on the wall along with the studio space helps with that, but I think I largely overlooked the human element of photography. For too long I had been knee-deep in technicalities. The angles, the light fall-off, the modifiers... these technicalities were what caused me to disregard Terry Richardson as a legitimate photographer.

A lot of thoughts have occurred since this realization. Let's fast forward:

While I'll never turn my back on the "technicalities", seeing how I'm so deeply rooted in the solid foundation of the technical aspects of photography, I am very much enamored by the "romance" right now. The following image of Kristen evokes so much emotion from me. That's a function of the process of the shoot as well as the evocative expressions from the images themselves. It was a pleasure working with a model with such high-energy levels. And aside from color/exposure corrections, these images are camera-raw. It is nice to work with models like Kristen who don't have pores and are therefore not susceptible to breakouts or flaws of the skin :)

So you'll see my focus drift. As use more and more of my margin for error to accommodate the human elements as well as the romance of photography :)

A couple notes that I'm sure will come up in questions and other thought as a result of viewing these images:

-The lighting is very flat. A model with well-defined facial features will help in this situation.

-Good definition via makeup is paramount to allowing this to work.

-While the lighting is flat, it's still above the camera axis.

-Speed, speed and more speed. Shot with the Nikon D3 and SB-800 mounted on the camera.

-I suggest staying close (don't shoot from 20 feet away) to allow for faster light drop-off.


  1. i feel like i am somebody in the world now that i have been officially mentioned on the LUCIMA blog!

  2. LOL! When you come back to LA, let's do another shoot together :) where you're the model

  3. Charles, I admit that the light is very flat but I dig what You said about makeup. The makeup on this shot makes that girl almost pop out of the image. It's amazing feeling.

    Another thing is, it's hard to find a model these days (at least, not a professional model) who can ACT different emotions. I was doin' some test photoshoot last weekend and when I asked my model to show me anger, she said "I don't know how, I always laugh"...

    I still don't understand Terry's work though... Maybe I need more expierence ;)