Too Posed VS Just Right

One of the things I try to watch when working with models is the “too posed” shot.

Yes, the model is beautiful and graceful (she’s a dancer, after all ) and, yes, I like the fan of water coming off her hip, BUT this is a bad photograph.

It’s my problem, not the model’s. She is trying too hard to give me something and suddenly “strikes a pose.” If I take the shot, that’s my bad. What I need to do is give better direction. “OK, that’s good, but could you shake it out, relax, and then just be yourself,” is a good example. Or “Just let it happen.” Or “Great, but you’re working too hard. Just be yourself.”

Do whatever you need to do to get to this, which is a much-much better shot in the same situation. This one feels real. It is the way someone would react standing in a waterfall, especially a cold one.

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Abstracted by Water

I love the way water will abstract the body. In this case you can’t really identify the person in what seems to be a portrait. On the plus side, I think that adds universality to the image. I also see depth, mystery, beauty. What do you see?

Karin Rosenthal Class on Cape Cod

If you get a chance to take a class from Karin Rosenthal–DO IT. If you get a chance to take a second class in a different place, DO IT. These are opportunities not to be missed.

I have been fortunate enough to take two classes from her. The latest was on Cape Cod, working mostly in ponds and forests in that area.

Here’s a photo of Rosenthal working with a model next to a lake, typical of one of her classes.

Her classes offer scenery–usually water. Great models. AND more important, a chance to have her critique your photographs. She takes that seriously. Sometimes she can be blunt! She wants nothing but the best to emerge from the photographers that she works with. That is the reason her classes are worthwhile. You grow as a photographer because she cares about photography–hers, yours, everyone’s. That is what makes her a good teacher, a generous one.

She regularly teaches classes in Vermont and on Cape Cod every summer. She is based in Boston. Check her website www.krosenthal.com

Here’s a photo that I took in her class. One of many that I like.

pondfantasy

 

SCALE–means letting a photo be big and small at the same time

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In order for a photograph with SCALE to work, you need something of immediate interest like the figure in the foreground kicking up sand as she runs. Then you also need to have a wide background that puts the figure in context. Here it’s the dunes and the ocean in the background. Not enough! You also need points of interest in that broad background. Notice the shadow of the runner. Notice the second smaller figure in the distance. Notice the mystery–the question of “what’s really going on?” All of those element add to the overall composition and not all of them are visual. The mystery is only visual in the sense of wondering how all of this works as a setting.

I don’t do a lot of photographs that feature scale. They’re hard. I think this one works. What do you think?

Photos with Reflections and What Makes Them Work

I’ve been doing a series of these Janus images based on the Janus myth.

 

In ancient Roman religion and mythology, Janus is the god of beginnings and transitions, thence also of gates, doors, doorways, endings and time. He is usually a two-faced god since he looks to the future and the past. The Romans dedicated the month of January to Janus.

Janus-Vatican

Here’s an example from the Vatican Museum.

In my case, I’m using a reflection in water as the second image. Reflections only work if  they seem to interact with the original image. That means, both images are somehow greater because of the reflection. In this case the interaction is enhanced by the arm–underwater–seemingly touching the reflection. Because the arm is underwater, it’s a bit ethereal. That makes it appear to be halfway between reality and reflection. I think it really adds to the overall composition. This is an image I’m particularly proud of.

It’s All About the Shadow

Normally it’s all about the figure. The figure in this photograph is good but the composition is all about the shadow. It’s a shadow that has been made complicated by the sun and water. Adds considerable interest. And because the photograph is mostly about that interesting shadow, black and white is my choice for presentation. Black and white emphasizes light and shadow. Perfect combination. BTW, this was shot at noon, not a photographer’s favorite time, but that high angle of light contributed to the shadow. Hope you agree.

Soft, Soft, Soft

soft nudewebThere are some images that are best as hard, finely focused photographs. Some are better soft. In this case, both of these images were deliberately blurred. I like them this way. But I’m not sure I know how to explain it. I simply find them more pleasing somehow. Maybe you have the words to explain it. Leave a comment.

 

Appreciate the model!

It’s not easy to be a model. Not only do photographers sometimes ask them to take off their clothes, sometimes we also ask them to get into water. I’ve had models work with me sitting in cold streams and ponds. I’ve had them work without complaint under hot lights and in cold drafty buildings. Here’s an example where the water wasn’t warm and wasn’t gentle. I was happy to be the photographer that day, not that I would ever try to reverse roles. I know my limits. Here’s the point:  Besides writing a check–I always pay my models–I also appreciate my models. I never assume that the job is easy. I have the easy part.

 

Connie Imboden Class

linewebTook a class last summer from Connie Imboden www.connieimboden.com She believes that you need to “push in” and find the photograph that is part of the body. She likes the kind of photograph that is mostly line and light without being immediately apparent what part of the body you are looking at. The results for me (I tend toward photographs full-body) were interesting. Satisfying. Pushed my limits. Good. See what you think.