What is Reality in Portraits

Today I thought I’d talk a little about how much “tweaking” should really go into making a portrait.  For the past few days I’ve been working on images from a shoot I did last year with a wonderful young model named Sara.  She is trying to get into modeling and I’ve been helping her with some head shots for her portfolio.  Back in 2010 we did her first shoot complete with hair and make-up artist by the name of Allison Carroll.  She a fantastic job and the images turned out great.  I ended up doing very little to achieve the final images.  A little exposure adjust.  Tweaked the color temp and a little highlight and contrast play.  That was it.  The shoot I did with Sara last year (the images I posted the other day and today) we didn’t have the budget for Allie.  We decided to go for something that looked a little more natural look.  In the intervening time my Photoshop chops have gotten better and I’ve added a few more plug-ins to my collection.  Feeling a little adventurous I decided to play around a little with digital make-up on these new shots.  I also had added Portrait Pro 10 to my collection and thought I’d give it a try as well.  That brings us to the sowing of the seeds for this blog.  While working on these images I showed my girlfriend a before and after comparison of one of the images.  Her reply was “I doesn’t even look like her (Sara) now.”  This got me wondering.  Had I taken it too far?  How far is too far?   I honestly don’t think I’ve done anything too outrageous or beyond what I’ve seen other photographers do.  This is not to mention what I’ve seen touch-up artists do to images of models for commercial ads.  So I’m posting a before and after shot of the latest image from Sara.  I’d be very interested in hearing comments regarding this.


I’ve been working on my portrait skills and practicing digital make-up.  This is a shot of an up and coming model for her portfolio.  Her name is Sara and this is the third or forth time I’ve shot her.  This time she wanted a more natural look so she didn’t have a make-up artist or hair stylist with us.  I tried to keep the make-up work I did nice and natural and I really tried not to over do it.  Shot with natural light.  Portrait Pro V10, Nik Color FX Pro and Photoshop CS5 for the post work.   Enjoy.  Let me know what you think.

Finally Some Pictures

Ok.  So it’s been a few days since I posted and well………there really hasn’t been much to post.  Things have been a little slow and I’ve been working on marketing the business.   I sent out 250 postcards to various realtors, architects and designers.  I’ve got 250 more to send out and a mailing list with 600+ names left on it.  I finished a post card and web page design for my Senior Portrait Spring Special.  And I did a real estate shoot on Tuesday.  So while busy, not much to really blog about.  With no further adieu, here a couple of shots from Tuesday’s shoot.

Not Much to Offer

I know that I said I would post images of the houses I shot earlier in the week, but I am still waiting for the client to make her selects.  As soon as I have something I will post it.  In the meantime take a moment and listen to something by the late Etta James.  I always found her music great and inspiring.

Professional or Part-Timer

I was just on a Photography Talk forum where a professional wedding photographer was lamenting about how a “rookie” had undercut him on a job and that when it was all said and done the bride called him back to inform him that “All photographers were a rip off and that all they want to do is show up and collect a check.”  Obviously she had received sub-par images.  In fact she had received only 66 images on a dvd without any retouching.  On the forum there was a series of individuals who said “She got what she paid for.”  And I whole heartedly agree.  But I do think that the pro she contacted should have taken the time to explain to her why he was more expensive and how that it was about value and cost.

I agree with a large portion of what this photographer was complaining about.  Not the bridezilla that called him back.  But what he said about “rookies” killing the profession.  But I wouldn’t call them rookies.  Because anyone who is now a seasoned pro was a rookie at some point in time.  What I would call them are “Part-timers”.  These are people who have a 9 to 5 job and earn extra cash on the weekends doing weddings and events of that nature.  These are people the professionals should be taking the angst out on.  Just because you own an expensive dslr and some good lenses doesn’t mean you are a professional.  (Professional, as defined by the tax code means that more than 60% of your income is derived from the endeavor.)  If you don’t want the ire of the professionals directed towards you you should be talking with a few of them in your area and charging what the service is worth.  Even if this is just for the capturing of the images.

This brings me to another point about the current state of photography as an industry.  With the advent of digital imaging there has become this misconception amongst the masses that quality photography is “easy” because it is digital.  WRONG!  WRONG!  WRONG!   Here again we talk about perception.  All the client sees is the photographer coming in and capturing the images.  What they don’t see is the hours of education to capture that image correctly AND the hours of post-production needed finish the images that are the final presentation.  In the world of commercial photography they don’t see the hours of coordinating for the shoot.   Including wrangling models, stylists, make-up artists, hair stylists, props, getting the proper permits for locations. Not to mention making sure that they have all of the photographic gear working and ready to go.  Oh and let’s not forget about the hours spent working on the concept to help the client’s vision to fruition.

The art of photography has not changed in this transition from film to digital.   The only thing it has done is allowed the masses to take better snapshots.  And as I have heard another photographer tell a client who was complaining about cost of photography;  ” Snapshots are what you take.  I take photographs.”

More Work

Well my job on Tuesday turned into another job yesterday.  While the house I shot on Tuesday was nice the one from yesterday was really great.  I did think that it really had more of a California feel to it than a Philly aesthetic.  I do love architectural photography.  I love all the aspects.  The architectural details.  The design details.  And the appointments the interior designer adds to all of it.  I have really come to appreciate the work that the interior designer or staging companies do.  It is such a drastic difference from what the homeowners leave to chance.  I think that presentation really helps sell the house.

I will try and get some of the images done and posted later today.

Making Waffles

Good Sunday morning.  I’m making waffles for breakfast this morning.  Of course the kids aren’t up yet another hour or so before that happens.  In the meantime the odor of fresh waffles is filling the house.

Here’s my picture today.   Kinda on a theme the past few days with the railroad thing.  Enjoy.  Have a great day.

Saturday Morning

As I attempt to keep myself healthy and busy I’ve been walking.  There is a nice set of railroad tracks near the house that only get used on the weekend by the West Chester RR so they are pretty safe to walk almost all the time.  I have to admit that my girlfriend Kim actually pointed this shot out to me yesterday while we were walking so I have to give her credit for it.  I thought it was cool so here it is.

Spikes and Stones”