Friday, July 27, 2012

Hedy Lamarr, by George Hurrell, 1938

Here is another of my favourite portraits by renowned Hollywood glamour photographer, George Hurrell.

In the early 1920's, Hurrell studied fine art painting at the Chicago Art Institute, and then with painters Edgar Alwin Payne and William Wendt, before shifting his interest to photography, starting in 1925.1450504_1_l

I have seen many versions of this portrait online, with a wide range of crops and treatments.  I hope that it will eventually be included in the galleries of the new George Hurrell website, as I am curious to see an “official” version.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Judy Garland, by George Hurrell, 1944

“Bring out the best, conceal the worst, and leave something to the imagination.” -- Famed Hollywood glamour photographer George Hurrell.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Woman is Not a Vase

Portrait of Attractive Woman, by David A. Gilmour, Lumacraft Photography

Once again today, as I was browsing through some portfolios on the web, I saw several attempts at glamour and beauty style portraits where the subject was incongruously holding a flower, had a flower in her hair, or had a flower lying upon her or beside her.

I can only assume that the thinking of these photographers was something like:  The girl is pretty.  The flower is pretty.  If I photograph them together, what a pretty picture I will make! 

Of course, it doesn't work like that.  With few exceptions, a strong graphic composition has a single centre of interest.  If you're photographing a girl and a flower together, then what is your image about?  There is almost no way that including a flower in the frame is going to accomplish anything more than detracting and distracting from the statement that you are trying to make about your subject's beauty and character.

Start by deciding what the centre of interest is in your composition. Often in a portrait, it is your subject's eyes.  Then follow the basic principles of composition to frame and balance the rest of composition around your chosen centre of interest.  Be ruthless about omitting needless elements.  If something in your composition is competing with your centre of interest for attention, or even if it is just failing to do enough to strengthen the composition, then get it out of there.

(The same point can be made about post-production treatments.  If all that your treatment is doing is subtly reinforcing your compositional choices, then go for it.  More often, though, what I see are treatments that add unnecessary stuff which dilutes the centre of interest.)

Are there cases where adding flowers to a beauty or glamour portrait makes sense?  Sure, if the flowers are fundamental to a design concept, and are integral to the basic composition.  What comes to mind are the two images that were used in the promotional posters for the film American Beauty: the rose held to the belly,  and the character immersed in a sea of rose petals.  Those images still managed to cleverly adhere to compositional rule #1: simpler is better.

I suspect that some of us use elaboration and ornamentation to try to hide a lack of confidence in our basic portraiture skills.  One truth about photography is that there is always more to learn, for all of us.  Invest in learning to be good at controlling light and shadow, lines and form, and effectively communicating with your subject.  With practice, you will never need more than that, to reveal and photograph the beauty in your subject.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Course: Lightroom Fundamentals

UPDATE – 8-Aug-12: I just received a great review from a student in the Aug 6 class.  See this blog entry.

UPDATE – 7-Aug-12: Two more dates for the course have been announced.  For details on the dates and a special time limited promotional price discount, see this blog entry.

UPDATE – 22-Jul-12: Please note that the course has been rescheduled to Monday, August 6.

UPDATE – 21-Jul-12: I have had a request to change the course date, and I am now looking at either Mon Aug 6 or Mon Aug 27. Based on the feedback that I receive on those dates, I will post the rescheduled date to my blog later today.

Are you interested in learning how to manage and edit your photographs using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom?  Do you need to accelerate your workflow, and better manage your inventory of images?  Then please join us for my next course, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Fundamentals.

This course is aimed at professional photographers and advanced amateur enthusiasts.  Prerequisite is solid knowledge of both basic photography concepts and personal computer operation.  I will be teaching and demonstrating the current version of Lightroom, version 4.1.  Questions specifically about previous versions of Lightroom will be handled separately, time permitting.  Previous versions of Lightroom do not include the same set of features and capabilities, although many core concepts are the same.   A free 30-day trial version of Lightroom 4.1 is available from Adobe, here.

This one day course will cover the basics of Lightroom 4.1, including:

  1. Introduction to Lightroom
    • Why Use Lightroom?
    • Tour of the User Interface
    • Catalogue Concept – Folders vs. Catalogues
  2. The Library Module – Cataloguing and Organizing 
    • Creating a catalogue
    • Importing images
      • Import Presets
      • Applying Metadata
    • View Options – Grid and Loupe, Filmstrip
    • Flagging, Rating, Labelling Images
    • Virtual Copies
    • Keywording
    • Filtering/Searching
    • Stacking
    • Collections and Smart Collections
  3. The Develop Module – Fixing and Enhancing
    • White Balance
    • Tone Adjustment
    • Colour Adjustment
    • Lens Correction
    • Effects – Post Crop Vignette and Grain
    • Sharpening, Noise Reduction
    • Cropping
    • Spot Removal
    • Local Adjustment Brush
    • Graduated Filter Tool
    • Using the History Panel
    • Using Snapshots
  4. The Map, Book, Slideshow, Print and Web Modules
    • Only a Quick Overview of These Features
  5. Using Lightroom for Improved Image Editing Efficiency
    • Demonstration of My Lightroom Workflow
    • Clever Use of Smart Collections
    • Develop Presets
    • Keyboard Shortcuts

How Much: $250 $150 + HST, non-refundable.  Regular fee for this course is $250.  This is a one time only chance to save $100!

Registration: .. requires prepayment in full of course fee.  Registrations will be taken on a first come, first served, to a maximum of six students.  To begin the registration process, please contact me by email at Be sure to provide your full name, company name if applicable, and phone number(s), or else I will be unable to process your registration.  Within one business day of receiving your request, I will create and send an invoice to you.  Payment of the invoice will be due by the end of the following business day.  Payment by Visa, Mastercard, or cash accepted.  You are not registered until I contact you, confirming receipt of your payment.

Maximum number of students: Six, to ensure one-on-one attention.

Where: My studio, located in the large renovated industrial building at 270 Sherman Avenue N in Hamilton, ON.  Free parking in building’s lot.  I will send you all the details when you register.  Good news: my studio is air conditioned.

When: Monday, August 13Rescheduled to Monday, August 6.  Doors open at 8:30AM.  Class starts at 9:00AM sharp.  Class ends by 5:00PM.

Lunch: We will take a short break for lunch. I recommend that you brown bag it, or else you can make a quick drive to the nearby Tim’s.

Bring: Your notebook computer, with Lightroom already installed.  (Version 4.1 recommended, as noted above.)  Notebook and pen.

Schedule and other details subject to change.  If the course is rescheduled, and if you are unable to accommodate the rescheduled date, course fee will be refunded.  If the course is cancelled, course fee will be refunded.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Actor Portfolio Session with Natalie

Natalie Ruginis has appeared in more than a dozen stage productions in the Hamilton and Burlington area over the past four or five years.  For her first professional portfolio, Natalie was looking for a mix of commercial and theatrical actor portraits.  Here are some of my picks from among her unfinished previews.


Makeup and hair styling for Natalie’s session was provided by Virginia of Beauty on the Go.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Photographic Illustrations of a Business Location

After I had photographed staff members’ portraits at a local dental clinic (see yesterday’s post) , I then photographed some highlights of the office’s exterior and interior.  All of the images were produced to provide content for the business’s website renewal project.

The model who you will notice in a couple of the photos was my assistant that day, my son Matt.


Saturday, July 7, 2012

32 Executive Portraits for a Local Business

A dental clinic with two locations here in Burlington is updating its website and its promotional materials.  This clinic commissioned me to produce head and shoulders portraits of 32 of its employees.  The results are below.  Click on each of the two sets of images to view a 4X larger version. 

My contact at the company, who coordinated the project, sent a kind note to me today, saying, “We are all very pleased with your photos and your work.  It has been a pleasure and we hope to continue with more work in the future.”