Monday, April 11, 2011

Busy-ness + Flashbus

Sorry I've been somewhat MIA lately.

I'm the type of girl who's never not busy. On any given day of my life, probably from the day I popped into the world, if you ask how I am, my answer is busy. If you look it up in the thesaurus, busy is actually synonymous with good. It happens to be the state in which I am normally the happiest.

So last week I took a blog break because I needed to edit the pictures of Serena, attend the Flashbus Tour stop closest to my home, get my car fixed once, and then twice (hello, money pit), and work a full week at my day job. This week I'm playing a little bit of catch-up, so it's probably going to be all kinds of all-over-the-place, and I'd love it if you want to come along for the ride. I'm planning on going philosophical on you, so you've been fairly warned.

But today, I want to recap the Flashbus Tour, just for fun. Here's a picture.

Fun fact about this picture: David Hobby, from the Strobist, lives less than a half hour from me, and I had no idea when I signed up for this that I lived within driving distance of someone so awesome. I think that makes me proximately awesome. Anyway, because he lives close to me and this was the closest stop of the tour to me, his family was able to stop by, because it was also close to them. Those blurry people in the front are his wife and daughter...or at least the backs of their heads. I think that makes this an official family photo (however, his son was sitting on the floor, so he didn't make it into the picture).

Another fun fact: the Flashbus tour was all about how to sculpt light using small flash. See how much light sculpting I did in this photo? That's right, NONE. The first thing we talked about that day was ambient light. I think they purposefully chose a venue with the most horrid, heinous, atrocious, haggard ambient light possible just to screw with us...or to prove that they really are amazing at what they were teaching. Probably the second one.

My thoughts are that I learned a lot and that I'm probably not going to attempt to do what they did anytime soon. Not that I'm not ambitious. I'm more of a natural light photographer at this point because I was scared of artificial light before I attended this tour (not anymore!), but also because in the line of portraiture that I aspire to, having the time and resources to artfully set my lights is, um, not my style. Yep, I'm going to put that out there. Not to say that it can't be done, but my goal is to capture people in the moment, candid and naturally. Imagine trying to tell a two-year-old to hold still while I beam this light into your eye. They'll think I'm the eye doctor. Or a bride on her wedding day on location...yeah, that might cut into the cocktail hour.

Not to say that it was a waste. Far from it. What was really useful was learning to understand the properties of light and how to sculpt it. It doesn't matter if you're using artificial light or natural light...light is still what provides shape and dimension to the subject. Knowing this, I will be better able to utilize whatever natural light is available and use it to my advantage by assessing my light sources. I also have a new trick up my sleeve...knowing how to use artificial light when I have to.

So I'm going make myself uncomfortable by laying out my opinion (and it's only my opinion, and I bet there are lots of people who disagree with it...which is why I'm squirming in my chair as I write this). I feel like the people I photograph are more comfortable and act more like themselves when they can forget about the camera and they don't feel like they are in a formal studio. Case in point...yearbook photos. Did anyone ever look like themselves in those pictures???

For some commercial photography and editorial photography, having a studio setup works because you have models who are trained to act in front of a camera, or it fits with the narrative behind the picture. But most regular people are vulnerable when placed before the lens of a camera, so I prefer not to make them feel like I'm taking a formal portrait, because that seems so serious. And I feel like I really can capture them when we photograph them living in the moment, instead of me sculpting them into what I perceive is their likeness, if that makes any sense. Not that one way is better than the other, because there is a place for both. I might even feel differently if I ever get the chance to shoot in a studio...and I'll be sure to let you know.

And, just in case you were wondering who the other dude in the photo above is, well that's the mucho famous Joe McNally. I'm still in shock that I got to be within 20 feet of him; again, I'm going with proximate awesomeness. Hey, maybe the more great photographers I get close to the better my pictures will osmosis.

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