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Tag Archives: Techniques
The New Barrier to Entry?
We start off with Rick trying to dial back his (seemingly) hatred of the French but then he turns his attention to the Basque region of Spain. But, hey, he does an Irish friend. If you’re familiar with the other podcasts that Tony is involved in, you’ve gotta be shocked that he is the voice of reason and sanity on Polarizing Images!
And don’t forget the new segment! Send us the name of a drink via our Twitter account – @PolarizingImage – and we’ll have Rick drink it through a Red Vine straw. Remember to tag the Tweet with #RedVineDrink.
Anyway, lots of good stuff in this episode once you get past our usual goofiness (A.K.A. the reason you keep coming back). Topics today include:
- Do we really expect Tony to do any heavy-lifting? *Can* he?
- If E&J is good enough for us, it’s good enough for hillbillies. Let’s just call it “domestic”… I wonder if Rick is blind yet?
- With the cost of software, does that make it a barrier to entry? How about the learning curve of software?
- Does keeping on top of software updates prevent the guys from updating their gear?
- Is there a perfect tool or piece of software?
- How terrible or lazy are actions and filters? (hint: Rob has changed his opinion)
Even just 20 years ago, it was quality camera gear that posed the greatest barrier of entry to being a professional photographer. You would never have dreamed about becoming a wedding photographer with “just” a 35mm camera and a couple of inexpensive zoom lenses. Today? Different story! But you need something for post production. Whether you’re buying high end applications like Photoshop (still the “gold standard”), paying less for a more appropriate version of Light Room, or stand alone apps and filters, your collection and library of software is going to grow and, regardless of how much you spend (or don’t) it all takes time to learn. And that doesn’t even take into consideration the time required to hone your craft as a photographer!
Starting with our photographer, we look at Italian photojournalist Clay McLachlan. Want to see how a working (and successful) photojournalist sets up a seemingly easy food shot? Check out this behind the scenes video called Blue Bottle.
As an homage to Rick’s father, Rick chose the German-American architect, Helmut Jahn. Jahn was the architect behind the United Airline’s terminal at Chicago’s O’Hare airport. And yes, at one time, O’Hare was an example of modern architecture. Chicago is a city filled with architectural history and relevance but, beyond that, a city of artistic importance. Anyone who wants to be a travel or architectural photographer will, at some point, need to travel to Chicago and see the works of influential designers such as Jahn.
Photography: You Ready to Go Pro?
Holy shit, this sucker is one long show. Two freaking hours! Anyway, this show is based on a question that Rick and I (Rob) get on a regular basis. It usually goes something like “I’ve been shooting for a while and I get lots of positive comments on my photography and now I’d like to start charging. Am I ready?”
It’s a tough question. Hell, we don’t mind answering it and for sure as shit’s sake we’ve been there, too. Rick and I are certainly tainted by their own experience, having been through the school of hard knocks, and would love to tell everyone asking this question to hang tight for a bit. But we also know that they won’t, so we try to talk about what we wish we had known and what we think every new photography professional needs to know before diving in. Here’s a hint, it’s a business so treat it like one!
Just as we were wrapping up the show, Rick asks an “innocent question” and then he and Tony start arguing for another damn half hour while I played Words with Friends. I think, dear listeners, that if you can make it through to the end of the show, you’re going to tilt on either what Rick says or what Tony says!
Since wedding photography is often the attempted path into professional photography, we look at one of the best wedding
photographers in the country, Chicago-based David Wittig. David’s photography shows his depth of experience with the wedding niche, an ability to connect with clients, and an ability to shoot great photographs that are unique to his style. If you’re thinking that wedding photography is an area you might want to get into, David Wittig is a photographer you need to be aware of.
Tony, never wanting to do anything normal, chose Adrian Newey as this episode’s artist. Newey designs Formula 1 race cars. They’re pieces of beauty and he creates game-changing designs.
Why the Hell is Photoshop So Controversial?
Photoshop: it’s a tool that, for some incredibly stupid reason, seems to be controversial. Some people love it, others hate, but the smart people know that it is just that – a tool to achieve and end-result. But what got us going this week was a comment from someone on Facebook regarding a photograph they had seen, “…wow, is it real or PS?”
C’mon, really? Just because a photograph has been through the Photoshop cycle, it ceases to be real? But that got us thinking – what does it really mean for a photograph to be “real”? Too many people confuse “real” with “realism”. Are Picasso’s works not “real” paintings because they don’t depict realistic subjects? You’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who would take such a position. So why do we say that about photography and Photoshop? If I create a shallow depth of field through a lens choice that’s okay but if I add blur in Photoshop, then it’s not a real photograph? If I make a bride’s teeth whiter than they really are or, more to the point, than they appear because we’re under incandescent lighting, that’s not a real photograph but if the bride had her teeth whitened by a dentist, that’s okay?
This whole concept of post-production, regardless of the tool that’s used, has to stop. As long as the photographer/artist is trying to achieve an image that they see in their mind’s eye, why the hell should we care – or judge – how it was achieved? And we’re not even touching on the differences between using Photoshop to manually alter an image versus allowing a camera to do it outside of our control!
So, to all of you who believe that Photoshop renders a photograph “fake”, it’s time to allow your photography and creative vision to mature a bit.
What about photography before there was Photoshop? Today’s photographer is Kansuke Yamamoto (1914-1987), an early surrealist photographer from Japan. His work included several pieces on film that, today, we would accomplish with Photoshop or other digital imaging tools but, as a film photographer, Yamamoto did his post-production in the darkroom. Are these “real” photographs?
What happens when you let Tony choose the artist? You get a musician! Today we have Captain Beefheart. As long as we’re talking about art being real without requiring realism, the good captain is actually an excellent choice for an artist who inspires. Especially in the realm of surrealism. Let’s let Captain Beefheart have the last laugh today:
“It makes me itch to think of myself as Captain Beefheart. I don’t even have a boat.”
Heads-up – we had some technical issues with Skype this week so the show is a bit rough in places. Close your eyes and it will soon pass.
Generalist vs. Specialist
It’s a common position taken by new photographers – the idea that you can shoot pretty much anything. From family portraits in the park to “fine art” to landscapes to urban to flowers… It’s understandable that we all want to highlight everything we are capable of doing but, on today’s show, we look at whether that can actually harm our photography instead of helping. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about running a business or just developing our skills – being (and remaining) a generalist will only let you get so far. You’d be surprised at how fast you hit that wall.
By now, you should us well enough to guess that all three of us are firmly on the side of the specialist. Look, we’ve all been there – Rob’s first foray into charging money and being a “pro” had him list at least four different areas of photography he could shoot. Rick did the same thing. It didn’t serve either of us well and we try to argue that it won’t serve you, either.
So stop it!
Rob chose Eddie Soloway, a photographer he stumbled across and whose work all three of us were immediately attracted to. Eddie’s work with color and concept is a perfect example of
why becoming a specialist in an area is so important. Look through his various collections and you’ll quickly realize that such a body of work could never have been created by someone who “dabbled” and remained a generalist.
Tony, again, goes outside of the box to find our artist and chooses Heston Blumenthal. Yup, the famous chef. Rick (if you didn’t know) is a classically trained chef and he’s all over this one. We all love Blumenthal’s work and it shows. Fuck, now I’m hungry.
Just a couple of things:
Remember, October 2 is PI-Con and it’s coming up soon.
Buy some PI swag (like the “Wine Stein”) from our CafePress store and help us keep the show going.
Opinions, they say, are like assholes – everybody has one. And we’re no different… we’re assholes with opinions! Which opinions matter, whose opinions matter, and why should we even care? Pretty basic questions but they need to be answered.
What’s Your Opinion?
Look, we all from time to time have the need to get praise and flattery from people. And, if it’s from people we like or respect, even better! So, tonight the guys open up and reveal what it means to each of them to get critiques and opinions from people we respect and admire. Even when what they have to tell us may not be what we want to hear. C’est la vie…
But this is one topic that takes advantage of the differences between Rick, Rob, and Tony. We’re each at different stages in our photography and it shows when we talk about whose opinions and critiques we seek and listen to.
So, this is episode 22 and, unbelievably, Rob has waited this long to highlight one of the photographers he admires most – Jim Brandenburg. Having watched Jim’s DVD, Captured By The Light, several years ago, Rob has become heavily influenced not just by his photographic work but by who Brandenburg is as a photographer. If you ever think you’ve been handed a tough challenge, read up on his 90-day one-frame-per-day shoot. Then quite yer bitchin’. Watch the trailer on YouTube:
Our artist is Eduardo Chillida. Okay, apologies to Mr. Chillida: first Tony tried to pronounce his name and then Rob took a stab at it. Two different pronunciations and both are probably just slaughtering the way it’s supposed to sound. No matter, he’s still a brilliant artist and Tony does one helluva fine job relating Chillida’s work to photography.
So, what’s your opinion? Let us know!
Oh, and buy shit through our affiliate links, please? We’re running out of server space!
Watch the trailer for Jim Brandenburg’s Chased By The Light
Alright, Brian, it’s a new episode and the deal with Jameson has expired, so you get mentioned again (a lot). So bear with us for the first few minutes of showing the love to some friends before we finally get around to talking about tonight’s topic: the death of the print. Yup, we’re rehashing a topic from just 10 episodes ago but, so what? This is such an important issue for all of us as artists that we’ll likely explore the print and its importance every so often. The impetus for tonight? Rick’s purchase of a Peter Lik print.
The Print: Still Relevant?
Tonight’s topic includes discussing the difference between an art print and a photographic print, the death of the cheap print from the big box stores, the stages of art collection as we move through life, and (thankfully) the death of the cheap poster industry. Then there’s the whole income-range of our potential clients and who has the money to buy a $3000 portrait for their home? No, seriously, how? We all want to know.
During the show, we discover that we’re at a point where we realize that art isn’t going away, there’s just a lot more noise in the marketplace. And this leads Rob to one the biggest pieces of insight he’s had in the past couple of years; ask yourself if the shot you’re going for is gallery quality. And just what the hell does that even mean?
Oh yeah, PHOTOSHOP IS NOT A VERB!
Our photographer tonight is Erik Johansson: a visual illusionist who is at the peak of his craft. Tony calls him a magician and does so with the greatest respect. Rob is struck by the paradox of creating something physical (like a print) that shows something that cannot actually exist in nature. Rick has a hard time thinking of him as a photographer.
Interestingly, last time we talked about the print (episode #3, by the way), we featured another photographer whose work begins with the photograph and uses it to create digital art. What is it about this topic that causes Rob to find inspiration in digital artists?
The artists for tonight are one of the most famous unknown couples: Charles and Ray Eames. You may not know them by name, but you probably know one of their most famous pieces of furniture, the Eames Lounge. A very prolific pair of artists, they were successful in designing interiors, creating furniture, photography, art, and more. They demonstrate how everyday items can be art.
Signing, off, fucking step it up, buddy!
After months of Rob talking about nudes, we finally get around to dedicating a show to the fine art nude. And of all times for Rob to have bronchitis. But, for the sake of the show, he powers through it with a lot of help from Rick and Tony!
Topics today include the difference between a fine art nude and a glamour nude, the kind of subjects Rob likes to work with, what’s it like to have a nude model in front of your lens, trust and vulnerability for both the photographer and the model, and whether or not arousal is the intent in fine art. There’s more… a lot more. After all, these are three guys talking about nudity in art.
Finding Inspiration for the Nude from Other Artists
Today’s artist is Georgia O’Keefe and we discuss her floral paintings and whether or not there is an inherent eroticism in the painting. We spent a little more time today actually looking at the difference between overt sexuality/nudity and images where the nude has obviously been an inspiration. O’Keefe’s work is the perfect catalyst for this kind of topic.
Our photographer for this topic is Mary Ellen Mark. We focused primarily on her portraiture and celebrity work. She has an ability to connect with her subject and pull from them a real reaction, even when the subject isn’t paying attention to the camera. Check out her shot of John Belushi from the set of Blues Brothers.
We have questions for you! Would you pose for a fine art nude? Why or why not? Would you be interested in learning to shoot nudes? Do you have a moral or ethical aversion to fine art nude photography (remember, we are talking about fine art and not glamour)? Is there a difference for you between glamour and art? How would you describe that difference?
Let us know here on www.PolarizingImages.com or send us a tweet @PolarizingImage.
As always, thanks for listening!
The Photographer’s Vision? Yeah, that’s right, today’s topic is all about what we see as photographers. Rob, Rick, and Tony spend a lot of time (yeah, a lot… sorry about that) talking about what it means to each of us to have a vision. Whether we try to preconceive an outcome, have the ability to see a picture unfold in front of you, or simply live in the moment, vision is a critical aspect of being an artist. Otherwise, aren’t we just shooting for the sake of shooting and hoping for the best?
We think so.
Still, having vision can mean different things. As a fine art photographer, Rob tries to create the image in his head first, so that he knows what pieces he needs to bring together to bring life to the vision. Tony, on the other hand, limits his preconception to the scene and environment as it unfolds around him. Rick manages to take a hybrid approach.
What Vision Means to Us:
Vision and evolution of art isn’t something that comes from a single influencing source, but rather we evolve on our own by using the building blocks created by the vision of other artists. We don’t steal ideas but we certainly do allow ourselves to be inspired by others. But you already knew that because you’ve been listening to our show for a while and you know we love being inspired by others.
Now you folks really need to tell us what you think! How important a role, if any, does vision play in your photography or art? Is it important? Do you conceptualize the picture before you try to shoot it?
Art Wolfe – nature and landscape photographer, tv host, and amazing artist (in Rob’s humble opinion). Even Tony comes around when he see’s Art’s black and white photos.
The Melbourne Federation Square building – not an artist this week but a piece of functional art!
Holy shit – almost an hour and a half?! But it’s worth it, trust me… Topics today include dealing with the different types of people who land in front of your lens and how to help them relax and enjoy the photo shoot. Rob surprises an unsuspecting and long-lost friend and then Tony asks her to reveal what would creep her out. Surprise, she answers!! Sorry, B_Mo, no Van Heusen shirts here! Internet “models” need not apply.