|Or is it magic?|
On more than 1 private workshop I have disappointed my workshop photographer/student.
They always say the same thing.
"I keep waiting for you to show me that one thing that you do that makes your pictures the way they look"
Am I pulling punches? Am I afraid to give away the secret sauce? Am I hiding the magic bullet?
I open up like a book and show them everything I do from capture-to-post. I reveal every full-layered PSD/TIFF file in all its layered glory and show the original captures and explain everything.
I keep no secrets. Because it's not magic.
So how do I get that look?
Plainly, it's the combination of a lot of little things. The right model, the right makeup, the right hair/wardrobe (or lack thereof), the right pose, the right background, the right capture settings, the right light, the right angle, the right shooting distance/focal length, the right expression, the right moment, the right RAW adjustments, the right post-processing, etc.
And therein lies the "secret" and perhaps also the rub. The same photographers who leave disappointed, believe that they already "know" what they're supposed to do and that I must be doing something differently. Which is why they're unimpressed when I show them my shooting style, my dodge and burn techniques, my RAW adjustments, etc. Because they believe that they are already doing what I'm doing.
Only they're not.
The secret isn't so much knowing how to acquire proper exposure, how to dodge and burn, or make RAW adjustments. No. The secret is is how you do each of these things accurately and consistently shot after shot after shot. Because while you might be close on each of the items listed above, if you're not 100% on everything, you won't even come close to getting proper results.
Let me give you an example to illustrate what I'm saying: What is 90% x 90% x 90% x 90% x 90% x 90% x 90% x 90% x 90% x 90%?
As a letter grade, that's an F.
The point is, if you're off by just a little on each thing. You wind up being way off in the end.
And I know some people say, "Don't sweat the little things". Well there is a time and place for everything. Because sometimes, "It's all in the details".
This is one of those times.
So I go back to one of my favorite quotes, "There's no replacement for displacement". Search that phrase on this blog and time and time again I've used it again to explain that there's no shortcut, no magic bullet, no substitution for hard work, no two ways about getting from A to B, etc. The sooner you stop searching for what you don't know and start perfecting what you do know, the faster you'll realize just how bad you are at the things you thought you were really good at.
Don't get me wrong. I'm all for learning new tricks. New techniques. Using new tools. Exploring. Being inspired. But let me be the first to tell you. All that stuff is overrated. They're simply distractions that prevent you from realizing the truth. What's the truth?
It's hard work that gives the images that look.
And I understand why photographers don't want to hear that. Because it is easier to believe that Charles Lucima is doing some voodoo magic than it is to believe that I am way off on several critical components that comprise a fantastic image.
So I'll tell you the same thing I tell those disappointed photographers.
I don't know what to tell you. It's not magic.