The Origins of Halloween, 2016

THE ORIGINS OF HALLOWEEN

A Project 52 Assignment

Just before Halloween (October 31, 2016) the assignment for the Project 52 students was to shoot to layout for this fictitious piece.

The magazine layout is a two page (spread, or “double truck”) and calls for the photographer to be very cognizant about what is on the right side of the image. The right side of the image will have copy set there, and it is important to keep that copy readable. The text is set as reversed (light text on a dark background) and was not to be changed.

This is a deceptively difficult assignment. Making sure the image captivates, fitting it into a layout, helping direct the viewer to the text are all decisions made BEFORE taking the shot. Planning the image is as important as executing the image.

This kind of exercise helps the photographer understand the image making process – whether for practical, commercial applications or simply to make a photograph that is deliberate.

There were many amazing shots. These are my favorite ‘scary thirteen’.

(Cover shot by Anne Stephenson.
Careful blending of a ghostly figure with a shot of an old, abandoned cemetery brings a cinematic feel to the image. Anne also used a color grade technique to look more like moonlight.)

Photographer Dirk Brand used a model with the “day of the dead” makeup to give us a start. A single light source still keeps the tonality of the dark scarf, and the high contrast of the white-face makeup.

Photographer Duck Unitas chose a macabre still life with rich color and the look of candlelight. The old books give an air of mystery, while the lighting keeps us guessing as to its origins.

Photographer Frank Grygier brings his image as a still life of old toys. Well lit, well composed and definitely a bit whimsical, the image leads us to the text perfectly.

Photographer Joe Tharp brings a macabre makeup on a model to invoke the mystery and frightening aspects of Halloween. A single light keeps it simple, and letting the shadow side transition into the dark makes it more mysterious.

Photographer Melissa Wax transports us to a mythical land where druid like dancers seem to be calling forth a spirit. She had wonderful models to shoot on this very cold morning. The backlit fog and flare add to the mysterious mood, and the direction of the dancers lead our eyes to the text.

Photographer Michael Klinepier took a subtle examination of the simple terrors of a nightmare. From makeup to wardrobe, to an eery handful of fire, the image makes us look, and also drives us to the copy by careful placement of the flame.

Photographer Nadine Eversley used light and Photoshop to create this interesting, graphically strong image. An iconic carved pumpkin, and beautiful leading lines take us right to the copy.

Photographer Richard Neuboeck used dramatic light, an iconic carved pumpkin and strong, leading lines for this mysterious image. Photoshop was used to carefully assemble the pieces, and the result is a striking, graphic photograph.

Photographer Neville Palmer presents a workbench from hell. From a potted head to a skull, to a mass of dead leaves, the still life is creepy and made it even more by the excellent use of lighting throughout the image. Note how well the copy reads over the background even though it may seem too busy at first glance.

Photographer Gloria McDonald gives us a ghostly image wrapped in gauze. The location is all the more eery. This is a composite shot, but works very well to bring an otherworldly mood to the image.

Photographer Iryna Ishcenko takes a still life approach with rare glass pumpkin ornaments. While not a traditional approach to ‘scary’ Halloween, it is a wonderful editorial approach to the product, or collectibles. This is the fun of photography – bringing in different approaches for our clients.

Photographer Rick Savage takes a ‘day of the dead’ view, and offers us up a model who seems to be dripping out of the next dimension. Clever use of a mottled, shiny background and one light make the shot work well.


 

bw-portrait-ad-web

For the last time this year, I am running this very popular class on Black and White Portraiture. Lots of information on shooting people and converting the images to monochrome (black and white, sepia, toned etc…).

Please check out the page for a lot more information.

For the last time this year, I am running this very popular class on Black and White Portraiture. Lots of information on shooting people and converting the images to monochrome (black and white, sepia, toned etc…).

Please check out the page for a lot more information.

Two Workshops in November: Portrait and Still Life

Two Workshops in November: Portrait and Still Life

For the last time this year, I am running this very popular class on Black and White Portraiture. Lots of information on shooting people and converting the images to monochrome (black and white, sepia, toned etc…).

Please check out the page for a lot more information.

If you love still life photography as much as I do, you may want to check out this 8 Week Still Life Class. It is one of the most popular I offer and it will be the last time I do this in 2016. We take a deep dive into the structure, techniques, and styles of still life photography.

Please see this page for more information.

Attention to the Details

Attention to the Details

Paying attention to the tiniest of details is one of the jobs of a commercial photographer. And rarely do details matter more than when shooting chocolate. Chocolate dust, scratches, fingerprints, and the chalky white of damaged edges can draw the eye to the problems for a variety of reasons.

A light colored artifact on a dark field will always draw the eye, And we pick up small imperfections without even really noticing them.

One of my project 52 students turned in this chocolate shot for a recent assignment. Rick Savage did a pretty good job executing a very good concept, but the details of the chocolate were left to ‘a natural state’. And a natural state is not what we want to see when we are advertising expensive candy.

The shot on the left is Rick’s first version, and on the right his repaired version. Yes, Photoshop is an important tool because even if you shoot it the best way you can in camera, tiny details may need to be repaired in post.

July Portrait Challenge Entries

The 8 Week Portrait Classes had a July challenge of a “summer portrait”. Winner was decided by photographer Nick Giron, a very good portraitist himself.

Here are the entries:

Paula Puffer: “Journeys” – A Show in Houston

"Journeys" - A Photography Show in Houston

Artist/Photographer: Paula Puffer

“Journeys”

Photographs by Paula Puffer

Journeys consists of selected images from several bodies of work photographed by Paula Puffer since her mother’s death in 2010. Works that are a part of the show include:

Watching Alzheimer’s: Focusing on aspects of Alzheimer’s disease and how it’s progression changed her Grandmother’s life.

Will Travel for Sea Turtles: Photographing Kemps Ridley and other endangered turtle species along the Texas Gulf Coast;

Transient Art: Graffiti across the Southern US;

The Spanish Missions of Texas;

Canyons of the American Southwest.

Puffer explores the physical world around me as well as themes of life, aging, and death. Puffer also explores her place in the world as a documentary, commercial, and fine art photographer.

Artist Statement 

Paula Puffer is a writer, photographer, and mixed media artist located in Houston, TX. She spends the majority of her time along the Texas Gulf Coast although she regularly travels through the Midwest, Great Plains, and the Desert Southwest.

Paula is currently working on two projects.

“Secret Selves” focuses on documenting the secret selves that women have created for themselves and the impact those selves can have on their lives. Each image in the series uses upcycled and recycled props where appropriate to create the images portraying each  hidden self. The images will be created in color. 

“Family Farm” is a long term documentary project that focuses on building a sustainable farm in Iowa while deep in the heart of Big Agribusiness. The images will be a mix of monochrome and color images of the work Paula’s brother Charlie has undertaken after retiring from the United States Air Force and pursuing his dream to create a farm that connects people and their food.  

The show will run from July 30-August 7 at Texas Art Asylum (www.texasartasylum.com).

Address:

1719 Live Oak, Unit L,  Houston, TX  77003

Reception Hours

Saturday July 30th 1-8 pm
Sunday July 31st – 1-5 pm

Paula Puffer will be on site to answer questions about her images during both of those times.

Paula became a Project 52 Member a long time ago. I have watched her work mature and grow for several years now. She uses her camera to explore her fascination with the world around her. From Sea Turtles to Missions to Food Trucks, her work always gives us a unique and intimate view of subjects we have known, but not in the way she presents them.

This will be a great experience for anyone wanting to attend a photography gallery and speak with the artist herself. I am proud of Paula, but even more proud to call her my friend.

Exceptional Still Life Photography (from the recent Still Life workshop)

Exceptional Still Life Photography (from the recent Still Life workshop)

We just wrapped up the most recent 8 Week Still Life Class. I wanted to feature a few of the images the students submitted.

I will be doing more 8 Week classes when I return from my road trip to Alaska.

Cover photo by Lavanya Reddy