Before I started photography, it always appeared bizarre to me that photographers say that a photo is much more than just going there and taking a photo. A moment 1/200th of a second long surely cannot take weeks and months to plan. Oh but it can, and so often does.
Every photo starts with an idea. A vision I have in my head. While at times it’s a colour, a particular style of lighting or clothing, it’s never a whole photo that I see while day dreaming. I’m not the Mendeleev of photography, not yet at least.
In most cases, the idea comes from a brief that I receive from a client. Adhering to the brief, I must plan what images I should capture, and how will I do that. Having arrived at a plan, I choose the location that would be most suitable. Sometimes it involves changing my bike route to see the location before I shoot anything. With that in mind, I am always trying to go to different places and find new and unique locations that other photographers may not know of. Browsing thousands of images and developing a lighting style for the shoot comes next.
This all ends up on a mood board. Each one like no other, they all share one concept in common – setting a benchmark for the shoot. Assembling a team of hair and make-up artists, stylists and other crew members comes next. Once everything is agreed upon, the shoot is ready to go ahead.
Once I arrive, while the subject is prepared by my team, I set up the lighting and think of the poses and angles I’ll use. While the mood board is specific enough to give a general direction, it requires me to see the subject in real life to really come up with the best pose. I have plenty of experience of working with models but I myself am not one. Therefore I always bring photos of great poses with me as a reference.
Once I have the light and pose bang on, I work on the little details. Snapping photo after photo I get the facial expression right, clothes perfect and the overall look incredible. Working on a set is the most difficult part of it. I cannot afford to mess up because some shots just happen once and never again. This does present a fair amount of stress to get it to spot on, right there right then. Pressing the button is just one activity in the midst of directing, managing, thinking and creating.
Photo editing is where I take the photo to the next level. In fact, I spend the same if not more time editing the images as I did shooting them. For me, photo editing is a process where I create something unique with the photo I’ve taken. The goal is very much about making the skin look as natural as possible. Editing small imperfections out with great precision, colour grading, making skin tones perfect as well as other such work are done on each image. I believe that editing is like the darkroom, a place for the photographer to be at one with the image and make it really what it should be.
I hope that gives you a small insight into what it takes to create a professional photograph. Capturing the moment, pressing the shutter release, really is only one moment in a much more complex process.
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