Thursday, December 22, 2011

Magic: The Premise

Surrender. Erica. D3/50mm. 1/5000, f/2.2 ISO200.

If you're just starting out in photography, then this post isn't for you. If you're still learning how to light, this post isn't for you either. If you're content with what you're creating, this post also isn't for you.

So who is this post for?

It's specifically for photographers that have experienced what I call "Magic". When things seemingly go right for no "apparent" reason. When you're surprised by the results of the images that you're creating. When the flow between you and the model takes a life of its own. When you capture the essence of raw emotion in a still frame.

I call it Magic because that's what it seems to be. It seems arbitrary. It seems inexplicable. It seems like it can't be replicated or made into a process. I often use the "creation of life" analogy where in a cesspool of proteins and water, lightning struck and molecules organized themselves in a way that represented the first single cell organisms (yes, I realize that's a crummy description of that theory but you get the idea).

So if you buy into the idea of Magic; if you've experienced it; if you're seeking to create more Magic, then read on. If you're not interested in creating the types of images described above, then this would be a good point for you to stop reading because in all seriousness, not every photographer has experienced Magic and not every photographer is ready to explore how one creates Magic.

As further disclaimer what I'm about to describe requires significant proficiency with camera equipment, lighting equipment, and models.

Camera equipment requirements - You should be able to operate your camera blindfolded. Or at the very least you should be able to make manual adjustments to aperture, shutter, ISO, without taking your eye off the viewfinder... even if your viewfinder doesn't have this information constantly displayed.

Lighting equipment requirements - For any given situation in the studio (or outdoors) you should be able to dial in a proper exposure within 60 seconds. Preferably within 10 seconds. For what it's worth I'm going to limit the discussion to single light setups so we can focus on the dynamics of creating Magic.

Models requirements - You should have worked with hundreds if not thousands of talents, specifically models. Your experiences with other talents such as but not limited to makeup artists, wardrobe stylists, hair stylists, art directors, etc. will all add value to this aspect of creating Magic. But none more so than real experiences working with models.

The premise of creating Magic is based off of improvisation and shooting dynamically. You're going to be shooting "without a script". What's a script? It's any preconceived notion of what's about to happen. This includes, concept, makeup, hair, wardrobe, lighting, etc. Our theoretical setup for future posts will be based on the traditional model test with 1 model, 1 camera, 1 light, and 1 solid backdrop.

Now that we've set the stage and we're all on the same page for "creating Magic" I'll proceed to write about a few key components for how I create Magic. This is the foundation for the Master Class I'm teaching in January.

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