Thursday, August 28, 2008

NSI Pics, Part 4

This last set of pictures resulted from a brief walkabout taken with Terry on the last day of the workshop. He was demonstrating digital infrared photography technique, a passion of his which he succeeded in infecting several of us with. While Terry made his IR images, I made these visible light ones of some of his subjects and of other objects in the vicinity.

I see some lens distortion in the above - the line of the building is slightly curved. If I decide to do something serious with the image I will fix that, but for now it just gets my not-so-glamorous blog posting treatment.

NSI Pics, Part 3

One of the exercises that Terry Robertson assigned during his workshop last week was a simple one in creative observation. Calling it "ten by ten," he marked off a space of roughly that many feet ... Terry and I both being old enough to remember well that outmoded unit of measurement. Students were given an hour each to photograph whatever they wanted within that space. Each of us then had to put together a presentation using the photos that we yielded, to tell some kind of story. Below are the photos that I came up with.

There is meant to be a vaguely unifying idea among them, but if it eludes you, bear in mind that I took these between 6:15AM and 7:15AM after a late night out, and so my thematic vision may have been a little blurry and wobbly.

I enjoyed the exercise a lot. I look forward to repeating it now and then, to help keep the creative muscle in tone.

NSI Pics, Part 2

Continuing my series of photos that came back with me from last week's Niagara School of Imaging workshop, these are three extracurricular portraits that I particularly liked.

One of our models for the executive portrait exercise brought her two young grandchildren along, which resulted in the first two portraits.

The third is of fellow student and photographer Angie Humphrey, who put up with modeling for me while I fiddled with a lighting technique that I was trying out.

NSI Pics, Part 1

I am busy! busy! busy! catching up on everything since investing all of last week in learning.

Nevertheless I am taking a brief time out to share some of the pictures that I made while at the Niagara School of Imaging. I'm going to post these in four parts.

Part one contains some pictures from the core subject matter, which was commercial photography. Some are of my instructor Terry Robertson at work, while others are from workshop exercises in executive portraiture and architectural photography.

I learned a lot. Terry's food and and beverage photography demonstrations were particularly enlightening.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A single conversation with a wise man is better than ten years of study. ~Chinese Proverb

From today through Thursday August 21, I am away at Brock University, participating in a workshop. The Niagara School of Imaging runs a week long series of professional photography workshops here annually each August. This year I am studying elements of commercial photography with Terry Robertson, a photographer with 32 years of experience in the field. It's an intense program, running day and night, with multiple practical photography exercises. This is my third time back to NSI. Between NSI, convention programs, and educational programs arranged by my branch of the Professional Photographers of Ontario, I participate in more than a dozen professional development workshops and seminars every year. I am enthused about what I will be learning this week from Terry and through the exercises that he has developed for us. For me, expanding my photographic skill and knowledge is intrinsically pleasurable, and my investments in training have invariably yielded both immediate and long term returns.

I will be periodically picking up my voice mail messages and e-mail messages while away at the workshop. Please allow up to 48 hours for a reply.

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. ~Henry Ford

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Georgia and Background Replacement

Yesterday I worked in the studio with Georgia to make her executive portraits. A dozen or so of Georgia's colleagues will also be having individual and team portraits made over the course of the next month. One feature of the service package that I put together for this group is the creation of a custom background incorporating their corporate branding. Logistics are such that the set will be available next month. So yesterday I photographed Georgia against a chromakey blue screen to facilitate background removal and substitution. I produced this pair of images from yesterday's portrait session to demonstrate the technique for her group.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Photojournalistic Portraits of a Seminar Leader

Sandie is a dental practice management consultant. She runs workshops and works with clients across Canada and internationally.

As part of a major reworking of her website, she has commissioned me to produce a series of portraits and product illustrations. We will be working together in the studio in a few weeks. On Friday I attended one of her workshops, to capture some semi-candid, photojournalist style, environmental portraits of her at work, for illustrative use on her website. As usual, the samples that you are seeing today in my blog are hot-off-the-memory-card preview quality. In contrast, the images that Sandie selects for her website will be carefully finished for cosmetic enhancement and maximum graphic impact; some of the finished versions will likely show up in my portfolio galleries of finished work, in a few weeks.

Sandie is having me produce a set of prints of the group portrait. She will be giving one to each student as a token of her appreciation for their indulgence and participation in the photography.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Marie and the Importance of a Second Photographer

I always recommend to my bridal couples that they include a second photographer with the package of services that I provide on their wedding day. A second photographer, sometimes called a detail photographer, assists me, the principal wedding photographer, by providing both backup coverage and broader coverage.

Key moments during the ceremony are covered by both photographers, a sort of insurance against something being missed due to a camera malfunction for instance. (Both of us often carry two cameras around our necks as well ... you can't be too careful when documenting a once in a lifetime event!) Beyond backup duties, my second photographer may be assigned to broaden the scope of the day's photography, by documenting decor and venue details, or by capturing a variety of candid portraits, while I concentrate on making formal portraits. And, while I photograph the bride getting ready, the second photographer is usually assigned to cover the groom's preparations. Ultimately this team approach enables the design of a richer, more varied bridal album.

For both Lauren's and Sabrina's recent weddings, I was fortunate to have Marie Murray as my second photographer. Marie and I first worked together about three years ago, when she provided hair and makeup styling for my portrait sessions. She is still in that business and she remains one of my favourite beauty stylists to work with. Marie is also a pro photographer, and over these past three years I have enjoyed watching her photography business grow, and her abilities as a photographer blossom. It was my honour to be Marie's sponsor when she joined the Professional Photographers of Canada last year.

Wedding photography is an exciting creative challenge which I love. It is also a great responsibility which I take very seriously. I need my second photographer to work both sides of that equation with me, by being both, a skillful and imaginative photographer, and completely dependable and trustworthy. That is Marie.

Here are some of my favourites photos that Marie captured for me at Lauren's and Sabrina's weddings.

These are previews. Should Lauren choose the above picture for her album, the debris will be swept away by my paintbrush!

I encourage you to visit the websites of Marie's photography business, Memories by Marie, and her makeup business, Beauty on the Go. Check out her blog too.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Sabrina and Ryan

We had special plans for bridal couple portraits, after Sabrina and Ryan's wedding ceremony. Sabrina's parents keep their boat at Lasalle Marina. Using this specially christened boat as the location for some photographs was Sabrina's dad's idea -- as he was quick to remind me when, as I was admiring the pictures that I was getting there, I mistakenly patted myself on the back for being so clever!

Sabrina and Ryan were another of my wedding couples whose wedding day plans were threatened by this summer's frequent rain. We kept vigil on the weather reports right up to the day itself, and set a contingency plan to use my studio for the wedding party photographs in case of heavy rain. The weather turned out to be fine, and rain-free ... almost. Sabrina felt that, somehow, the brief downpour which coincided with her wedding ceremony, while everyone was safely dry inside the church, was her late grandfather's way of making sure that she knew that he was there too.