There are a lot of tools and techniques available to photographers and non-photographers alike. Especially popular these days are filters that change the color or appearance of a photograph, including those available from Instagram simulating a cross-processed film effect.
While this make the image appear interesting, it also condemns the image to becoming dated in a few years. How many of you have in your family a giant face collage, or a soft focus image from the 80's? At the time, they were the hot effects, but today, they appear out of style. The sad reality is that today's hot effect will be tomorrow's cheesy print. Ten years from now, Instagram, HDR and Topaz filters will all be recognizable as "fad" techniques from the 2010's.
My style and my philosophy is to capture properly posed and lit images in camera and create minimally edited proof images. These can be further edited at your request and will be used to make very clean prints, wall art, albums and other products.
How does that impact my style? I generally photograph with strong lighting, sometimes natural, sometimes enhanced by a reflector or strobe. I tend to light more "flat" than dramatic,meaning that the subject's face is generally well lit on both sides with a similar amount of lighting. I aim for clear illumination on the subject's face with no hot spots from variable outdoor lighting. I use a light meter in most of my sessions, so I know that I am getting the correct amount of light on my subject's face. I aim to balance subject and background lighting, particularly when the background is an essential element of the image. I often select a wide aperture on a long lens which will blur the background and flatten the subject's facial features, minimizing distracting elements and avoiding the distortion of facial features and body parts which happens when the camera is too close to the subject. I often will compose the image wide, which allows for a variety of cropping and finishing options. My goal is to capture the subject in a natural setting with flattering poses and perspective and allow for a minimum of after-capture editing.
After the session is complete, my post production workflow is designed to create images that will last for decades without looking dated. I generally will increase the image contrast, darkening the dark parts and emphasizing the middle tones or whites to achieve the right look for the image. I set white balance in the camera, so skin tones are true. I may push the vibrance, or color intensity of the image to enhance the saturation of greens and skin tones without over-emphasizing the color element of the image. I generally will clean up any skin artifacts such as blemishes or stray hairs, but I rarely use liquify tools to change a person's body dimensions. My goal is to have the image reflect the reality that I photographed, and be very clean and visually appealing.
In post processing for proofing, I generally don't apply vignettes or borders, and I don't generally apply textures over the image. I know that a lot of these effects are used by other photographers to create image impact, but again, I am trying to keep the image "pure" so that it will stand the test of time. My goal with proofs is to show you the clean, original image so you can decide which images you would like to have edited and/or printed. Most of my clients tend to order prints of the original color images with minimal special editing requested.
Will I do special edits on request? Certainly. I may even include a few stylized edits in your proofing set, so you can see how a specific edit may impact your image. But your proof set will generally consist of 4x6 cropped color images with enough "space" around the subject to allow for cropping to a variety of different print sizes and mounts.
So what should you expect from your session?
- Clean, well-lit images in natural settings
- Technically clean, minimally edited color proof images
- Every print hand-edited, sized and sharpened to your request
My gear, techniques, capabilities and philosophy allow me to create images that cannot be captured with an iPhone or a garden-variety digital SLR, and my prints and images are designed to be appreciated for decades without appearing dated.