Portraits Inspired by Jeanloup Sieff

One of the photographers we are studying in the 8 Week Portrait class is Jeanloup Sieff. This master photographer created images in almost every genre from portraits and nudes to landscape and commercial.

The idea is not to copy the work of each of the photographers we study, but to learn about what they did and find influences and inspiration. The photographers in the portrait workshop share with you their images:

Books by Jeanloup Sieff:

These photos are sweeet!

The project 52 group looked at photographing sweets and chocolate this week. Some very tasty images were shot by the gang. I figured since it is Friday, I should let you in on some of them.

Bob Knill

Bob Knill

Cathy Nance

Cathy Nance

Julie LHeureaux

Julie LHeureaux

Reed Waters

Reed Waters

Justin Caridi

Justin Caridi

Kelly Hicks

Kelly Hicks

Darla Hueske

Darla Hueske

p52 sweets2

Steve Gray

Steve Gray

Sergio Fialho

Sergio Fialho

Mark Maynard

Mark Maynard

The Proof Is In The Pudding… Make Sure You Have a Killer Recipe

chi-redhead-4“The proof is in the pudding.”

Always wondered about that term, so I looked it up.

According to the Urban Dictionary;

“The original phrase is “The proof of the pudding is in the eating!”
Which means you have to eat the pudding to know what’s inside of it.

The modern version of ‘the proof is in the pudding’ implies that there “is a lot of evidence that I will not go through at this moment and you should take my word for it, or you could go through all of the evidence yourself.”

OK…

That is pretty much what I thought.

Practice

Check out these free videos from Selina Maitreya. Seriously good stuff!

Your portfolio is sort of like the pudding in question. It’s proof that you can do what you say you can do right there on page, screen, or tablet.

Can you light a wine bottle and show the wine and the label – and do it from an angle that makes remakes a simple shot into a real challenge? Can you be set up and waiting for the moment when the semi-celebrity who promised you 30 minutes comes in 27 minutes late and declares that he has no time, and to get on with it – and nail the shot with confidence? Can you bid a complex job so that there are no surprises, no glitches, and no “extra fees?”

That’s the pudding baby… and it is the proof you need to your prospective clients as well as yourself.Cause if you aren’t sure, they aren’t sure. And you will not be getting a PO.

That doesn’t require being cocky or arrogant. (OK, a little arrogance is fine, just don’t let it go to your head and forget where you came from… ) It means you are sure of your self, and your abilities, and know how to get the stuff done that must be done.

It also means being aware that there are occasions where it is simply not possible. Shooting fashion on the beach during a torrential rain is going to be a cancellation day, as is the afternoon the power grid goes out on a big location shoot at the clients offices.

Stuff happens.

But most of the time we can pull a rabbit out of a dingy, soon to be recycled old hat. It is, ahem, what we do.

We make crappy products look amazing.
We make mediocre food look appetizing and delicious.
We add new life and interest to a 56 year old townhouse.
We make OTR crap look ‘cool’ enough for someone to want to buy it.
We help people sell stuff, and we do it with skills and a vision and a surety of purpose that we know what we are doing.

The ‘proof’ is in the pudding… fine, but remember it’s OUR dang pudding. We know what went into it and how it should be served. We are the masters of our own vision.

If we let others mess with our work, without giving us a chance to do what we do – the way we do it, it can be both frustrating and bad for business. We are hired to do a job, and we should be willing to fight to do it right.

Our job is to make the VP of Finances smile by making images that grow sales beyond projections.
Our job is to make images that bring more people to the website than ever before.
Our job is to createiImages that help seal the brand idea with the visitor so that there is no doubt in their mind that THIS is the company they want to do business with.
Our job is to help business make more money by making a better visual product.

Professional commercial photography should be viewed as a profit center, bringing clarity, consistency and brand loyalty to the front of the mind of the viewer. Great images create great brands.

Think of our largest, premium brands… the ones that get to a level all their own.

Nieman Marcus. Gucci. Prada. Lamborghini. Cartier. Harley Davidson.

Do they scrimp on advertising? Nope.

Do they look for the cheapest photographer? Nope.

Do they understand that excellent imagery SELLS better than crappy stock or amateurish attempts?

Yes they do.

They know it.
We know it.

Now, how do we get our prospective client to know it? The guy who called and wanted your bid for some interiors, and reads from a script on what they are looking for – or the woman on the phone who doesn’t introduce herself, but simply blurts out “How much do you charge for a shot of a …”

Yeah… we get those calls. And part of us wants to jump on the bid right away. We are in the mindset of “we are right for every job that comes in and if we don’t get every job that comes in we are lower than the grub worms that crawl in the dirt because we NEED every job that comes in to validate our recent Broncolor system…” or whatever variation works for you.

Hey – guess what – you don’t really need the “howmuchayoucharge” crap. It will never pay you enough, and you will begin to doubt that you are worth more.

I get these calls as well… and I am always courteous, friendly and sincere. I ask them to hold up for a minute and begin to ask them questions about the possibilities of the gig. I ask outright how many other photographers are they calling and if they had seen my website.

If they are calling more than a couple and they have not seen my website, then I politely tell them I am probably not the right photographer for them. I do not try to ‘educate them’ nor do I ridicule their poor business sense. Too much water under that bridge. You can try if you want, but my experience is that their mindset is on ‘cheap’ and it covers more territory than just photography.

However, I will also ask for an email address so I can send them something that is indicative of what I do, and most of the time I get one. I want to give them a taste of the pudding, and reinforce why they should consider photography or design (especially mine) to be more than a line item on their budget.

I want them to realize that great photography and design MAKES more money than it costs.

We will get the kinds of clients that we look for.
We will get more of the kind of clients that we work for.
Whether they be cheapos or premium, the laws of attraction seem to work that way.

We also earn a reputation for what we do… and this is one terribly difficult thing to rebuild if we let ours slip.

Do we have a reputation of a premium shooter, who helps their clients create stunning work for stunning results? Does our portfolios say that we are problem solvers, and that our work makes a difference for our clients? Do we make careful, thoughtful, powerful images that produce results?

And can we articulate why professional photography, and ours in specific. can enhance their needs beyond a piece of flat art representation? Can we justify our photography as a revenue investment instead of a line item?

Or do we just take pictures?

The proof, as they say, is in the pudding.

P52 Member Alicia Bonterre wins Two ADDY’s… WOW

tv calendar-042-Edit crop

Alicia Bonterre: Photographer, Trinidad and Tobago

Alicia Bonterre: Photographer, Trinidad and Tobago

CONGRATULATIONS, ALICA!!!

Alicia Bonterre started with P52 about two years ago. She wanted to up her game, create images outside of her comfort zone, and become better at commercial photography.

She just won two ADDY’s – A GOLD and a SILVER … so, we can safely agree she has indeed upped her game. The entire P52 gang are so very proud of Alicia’s progress and it is nice to see heer talent recognized in the ad agency world.

(The ADDY is the ad world’s version of the Academy Award, or the Grammy. It is one of the most prestigious awards a commercial photographer can receive.)

In Alicia’s own words:

PROJECT:
To photograph 12 images for a 2015 calendar for a local chain of supermarkets. The title of the calendar was “Grandma’s Remedies” and was to feature local herbs and “bush medicine.” The Ad agency gave me the list of herbs and the methods for their use, and I was asked to source, style and shoot. I met with the AD, the graphic artist and Account Executive to discuss the concept, layout, budget etc. Originally I was to shoot 8 of the 12 images with the other 4 to be sourced from stock, but after seeing the first set of images I delivered, they asked me to do all 12. I did up the story and mood boards for each and they were all approved.

 

CHALLENGES:
The first challenge was sourcing the items as many of these, although common, just weren’t readily available in my area or at the time. Because most of these were plants, wilting was a major problem as I could only get some of these from people’s yards and keeping the plant fresh after picking was a major challenge. In addition, I was only given this assignment a month before Christmas with the calendar needing to be in stores two weeks before then, so time was of the essence.

 

I spent 4 days sourcing which meant visiting the shops, my mom’s collection of antiques and novelties, friends’ cupboards, plant nurseries and the gardens of friends and their neighbors. Due to wilting some of the plants need to be collected just hours before they were to be shot.

 

Another challenge was that I don’t have a studio so I removed as much furniture from my moderately sized living room as I could and used there. This room is also very open with large windows on every side which is lovely for some images but for others it required a lot of flagging to shape the light.

 

THE SHOOT:
The shoot was completed over 3 days. I started with the items that I had on hand most likely to wilt. I shot tethered using Lightroom and would scale to view for accuracy of layout as the format was 9” by 12”. I had to make sure that everything would fit including a space for the fairly large date pad (approx. 25%) and the copy of the description and method of use for the herbs with a little breathing room for good measure.

 

Starting early, I would set up, shoot, edit,resize, and e-mail to A.D. for approval before breaking down the set. While waiting for approval I would set up and do another shoot, I would keep rotating like that averaging about 4 images a day. Some shots used natural light but I love the control I get from my strobes and flashes and often would bounce light off a large foam core board to create soft natural looking light so I could keep my ISO low while shaping the light.

 

CONCLUSION:
This was my first proper commercial job, but thanks to all the similar exercises done in Project 52, it was not new to me. I felt confident in accepting the job and felt I did a good job and the client was pleased. We are taught to shoot for our portfolios every assignment and this habit is now ingrained in me, so having to deliver that level of quality was not daunting.

 

That being said, I was very surprised to learn that my work gained the Ad agency Gold and Silver awards for Photography Campaign in the 2015 Caribbean ADDY. Up till then I had only a vague knowledge even of the existence of these awards so it was difficult for me to understand the importance of it. This has given me the encouragement to push further, learn more, want more, do more, be more. As a wonderful saying goes “If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough!”

Keep dreaming those big dreams, Alicia… they are working well for you.

The award winning images below:

From the Portrait Workshop: Inspired by Dan Winters

GroupA_DWinters_Gibbs1

Imitate. Assimilate. Innovate. — Clark Terry, jazz trumpet legend.

It is still the best way to learn art. And it drives the style of teaching I do. I don’t want anyone to copy anyone else, but rather to be inspired by the work of others. In the portrait class, we have looked at seven artists, all masters of portraiture in their own style. We have taken them apart to see how they work, and how they present that work to the world.

And then we get inspired to produce work that pays homage to the master, while hopefully forging our own style and essence into the image.

Dan Winters is a treasure for photographers wanting to learn what style is. His work has been featured the world over, and he has one of the most recognizable ‘styles’ in the business. The students spent two weeks pouring over his images, watching videos and generally discussing what makes the Winters image work so well.

And then they took what they learned and made an image… some images are direct homage, and others take what they learned and put it into their own voice. A voice that may be far from the inspirational, but also one that respects what came before.

I think the photographers did an outstanding job working with one of America’s most iconic shooters.

8 Week Workshop: Portraits Inspired by Herb Ritts.

The goal is not to copy, but be inspired by… Learning about a photographer like the remarkable Herb Ritts helps us to evaluate our own work, see it with new eyes and blend what we learn into our own mix. The photographers who study the past forge new paths into the future… not only for their own work, but for the art in general.

Congrats to these talented and very dedicated group of students.