This is about it…
For digging deeper into assignment photography. Some of this work goes back aways. Some pictures were made using film. Remember that? Actually, I still use film. Sometimes.
I won’t get into the old debate over which is better. Film? Digital? I don’t care. All I know is that they have a different look. Sometimes one look suits the picture better than the other. If a client has the time, I usually chat with them about that. Usually, they get all excited if I can shoot real film. In fact, if you use apps like Instagram or just about any smart phone photo app, you’ll see all sorts of film approximations. Care to guess why?
The real challenge for shooting real film today is finding a particular film that you want to shoot. And, it does add a few extra steps like finding a place to process film and scanning it prior to offering it to a client. It also adds expense.
With the added expense, you shoot slower. Just like the old days. You take your time. Your holding rate (the pictures you that keep on your first edit) is much higher. Likely, your framing and composing and exposures are better. That’s one of the big differences between taking and making pictures. With the advent of digital photography, once you make a basic investment in gear, you can shoot as much or little as you want. I believe most people shoot way too much. It shows. Everywhere.
Please don’t misunderstand. When I photograph something like a second line parade, I too overshoot. I have no choice. Everything is moving. The paraders. The second liners. Me. People are jumping in and out of the frame. I’m shooting without actually setting myself up to take a picture. Sometimes, I literally point and shoot. Bang, bang, bang.
And, this is an important take away. You don’t see all, or even most, of the pictures. You already know this. I believe that more is not more. Usually, it’s less.
Here’s one reason why. I think that you always want to show your best work. And, only your best work. You don’t want to show images that look so similar that the viewer can’t really tell the difference between a couple of images. Here’s another reason. You also don’t want to publish a picture just because it’s sharp. That’s the bare minimum. Unless… sharpness is not your main intent.
Here’s what I suggest. Shoot less. Plan more. Think more. See more. Edit (cull) ruthlessly. Show less work. Make no excuses.
Simple? Maybe. But, first you have to practice in order to get into this routine.
Oh yeah. One more thing. You can’t fix a picture in Photoshop. You can only improve it. You can’t magically turn a bad picture into a good one.
The pictures. They were all made for some kind of project. Most were made for clients and agencies. If you’re wondering about the chopstick pictures, I used to photograph for a lot of travel books. Both for trade books — coffee table books — and guide books. I also spent a lot of time in Asia. Sooooo… when you start making pictures for the food chapters, well you know. Chopsticks. Everywhere.
I think the rest of the pictures are pretty self-explanatory. Except for, maybe the shoe. That’s really a Mardi Gras picture. The main collectable “throw” from the Krewe of Muses is a highly decorated shoe. Shoes just don’t come that way. Somebody has to decorate them. That was the only picture in this post that I made purely on spec. I offered it, with a collections of other Krewe of Muses pictures, to magazines like The Smithsonian but nobody bit. They liked the pictures well enough. They didn’t understand the concept of Krewe of Muses.
That’ll happen sometimes. Maybe it’s the pictures. Maybe it was me. Maybe it was them. You can’t take it personally.