Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Rocking the white background

White background test

Her, not necessarily me. Alyssia is an aspiring teen model who already has developed a good sense of where the camera is and how to create a presence on it. Me? I'm a photographer who tends to light my portraits much the same way a blacksmith makes a horseshoe -- hit it with a sledgehammer.

In my defense, I hearken back to something one of my art school instructors drilled into his students -- be decisive, not timid in your creative choices. Better a bold mistake than a timid line or color well-placed. Armed with that creed, I've spent much of the last 30 years charging into creative places that more reasoned folks would dare not go, making bold mistakes left and right.

Sometimes it works, sometimes not. But if you gotta fail, at least make it a spectacular failure.

Not that this photo is a failure -- Alyssia gave me a killer smile while simultaneously spinning and swinging her hair and I happened to nail it. A split second earlier or later and this photo would have been destined for the trash bin. And the light is dramatic -- but maybe a little too dramatic. Or sloppy. The key light from camera left is just about perfect. The kicker light from behind Alyssia and the light used to blow out the backdrop were a little too hot and were spilling back onto the model, threatening to blow out the side of her face. I had already lost part of her jacket.

Too much of a good thing. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. I think it's much easier to overdo it the first time, then back off on your second opportunity rather than underdo it the first time, then have to push harder after that. If you've already gone as far as you dared the first time, it's going to be mighty uncomfortable going even farther the next time. Progress is slower.

All I have to do next time is grab a smaller hammer.

Photograph © 2010 James Jordan.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You did a good job on this one James Jordan. Don't be too critical of your work. Imagine Pollock had it cussed up a storm and threw his first paint splatter away.

From what I can see here on your blog you are way ahead of most photographers in what you do and how to do it.

I used to teach art (commercial) and one of the things hardest to teach was how to compose a scene or a portrait or anything an artist or photographer does. I spend a lot of time, now and then, just walking around my subject and looking at it with my eyes and then through the camera lens. Sometimes I get the result I wanted and sometimes I don't, but I try.