Something Is Missing

I once read a quote from a song writer that went something like this, “I was told that I would have to write 1000 bad songs before I wrote my first good one. So I sat down and started writing my heart out.” This person took it literally and decided to write 1000 songs as fast as possible so they could get that good one sooner.

After reading that, I remember my thought to apply that to photography. It makes sense. Photographers all seem to follow the same path (for the most part) as they learn composition, leading lines, depth of field, color theory, ect. Lets blare through the classic beginner photos and get to the breath taking good ones! For one reason or another, I always got side tracked with that thought process.

So here I am. Trying new things with my camera and editing techniques. My “style” (if you will) will seem a bit jumpy in the near future as I watch YouTube tutorials. But in the end, I hope to find me.

I am happy enough with this photo. Stress on the “happy enough.” Something is missing but I can’t quite put my finger on it. I’ll post it for now. But I’ll probably be back to try something different.

How Much to Retouch?

My usual approach to editing is staying in Lightroom for everything. I have an idea of what some sliders do and I have a few go-to’s that do what I like to see. I push things here. Move things there. And BOOM! Final photo.

When it comes to editing portraiture, I am generally new to the game. My issue is when the final product still needs to look natural. I am always concerned as to how far to take the adjustments.

I suppose it all comes down to personal taste, what the goal is on a particular photo, or what a client hopes to see. I am sure I’ll dive into other methods of editing in the future. But for this edit, I wanted to maintain a believable photo. So no super sharp eyes or glowing skin. You know, that edits that make a kid look like a porcelain doll.

Editing a kid was it’s own hurdle. I’ve always read that you don’t need/want to edit a kid too much because they already have white teeth and perfect skin. So when I found a YouTube tutorial on editing a kid’s portrait, I was skeptical of how many adjustments they used.

Regardless of my skepticism, I dove in and followed along. Being sure to keep my end goal in mind.

In the end, I had 11 adjustments and 3 groups. (Groups in Photoshop is something brand new to me but I already like how they’re used)! I think I did a good job of keeping the photo looking “believable.” When I started, I didn’t think the photo really needed any retouching. I almost didn’t do much of anything past some shadow and sharpening adjustments in Lightroom. But now comparing the before and after side-by-side, I can’t imagine posting the original!

This edit was my personal preference at the time and I’m happy enough with how it turned out. But I’m going to keep taking photos and editing. Try new things. Push the limits. Maybe one day I’ll land on what I considered to be “my style.”

Being Prepared

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” – Seneca

Throughout much of my mid twenties I was always keen to always carry my camera with me. Whether it was on my person or in the trunk of my car it was usually within reach when inspiration hit. Lately, I have been trying to get back into that same mindset.

I’m still not quite there but this one photograph is a reminder to me the importance of being prepared. This trip to the park was just a quick adventure to the same old place. Something to do to fill the time before another weekend obligation. Originally, I wasn’t going to bring anything at all. But something in the back of my head told me to grab the camera. “Just put it on your back. Just in case.”

Like a mental patient, I argued with myself. One side of me thought it was stupid. It was an ugly day and I’ve been there with the camera many times before. The other side of me thought “what the heck.” It’s a minor inconvenience. Lugging around the 5D.

For the most part the camera stayed with the lens cover on as I followed my little one around like a bear watching their cub. Then out of nowhere the oldest decided to stand against a green wall at the same time the sun peeked through the clouds. She stood at the very spot where the shadow of the wall hit the ground. The moment was too perfect.

After a few photos of just her I called the youngest to join. The result was well worth the few pounds strapped to my shoulder while navigating jungle gym stairs and slides. And it was the first side of me that turned out to be stupid.

Art Not Photography

We’ve all heard that person (or maybe it’s you) who turns their nose up at a photo that has been edited even the tiniest bit. “That’s not photography,” they say.

Agree to disagree. To avoid any conflict or confusion, I don’t like to consider myself a photographer but rather an artist (in the least vain way possible). And art is subjective.

Though I’m not Leonardo Da Vinci, I like the term “artist” because it opens the mind to endless possibilities. From simply editing out a distracting background object to completely taking a person and putting them in a different setting.

That’s where I want to take my photography. From my living room to the edge of the universe.

Beyond alive.

An Early Morning Adventure

“If you are lonely when you are alone, you are in bad company.” – Jean-Paul Sartre

For us introverts, this thoroughly rings true. Day-to-day life of human interaction can be so draining. Sometimes we just need to get away.

Yesterday, I had the change to do something I haven’t done in a long time.

5:00am on a Sunday morning my cellphone alarm woke me out of bed. I made a large thermos full of delicious coffee, grabbed my gear, and adventured into the sub freezing morning. Turning right out of my driveway, I drove the direction where the sun would soon rise.

I arrived at the lake as the sun rays started to peak over the trees in the distance. A light fog floated over the water, forcing me think of an elegant slow dance. Birds were chirping their good morning melody. And as I pulled my metal thermos cup to my mouth the heat of the black coffee masked the sharp cold of Jack Frost’s touch.

In this moment, I was in bliss. And I cannot wait to do it again.

Food Photography – An Exploration

Ever since my dad helped me pick out my first DSLR camera when I was 15, I was hooked on photography. The trouble with hobbies when one gets older is time. Especially when a family is involved. So these past few years, photography has taken a back seat more often than not.

But like the changing seasons, my camera always finds its way back in my hands. So to keep things going I am venturing into a new genre of photography. Food photography.

Definitely, far from my passion of documentary photography, I hope this will keep me entertained. So far it has been a fun adventure. There’s so much to think about that I have not before considered. Staging not just the main objects but also supporting objects. Lighting: artificial and natural. I am so lost and have so much to learn. Fun!

A DREAM. A BOLDER.

Life is a series of consistent inconsistencies. Caught up in being a socially acceptable “adult,” we are expected to more or less go with the flow. Get a job. Get in a relationship. Have kids. Work hard. And eventually eternally remain in the memories of loved ones. Chasing dreams is thought to be admirable by onlookers but hypocritically criticized by those close to us when sacrifices for those dreams are realized.

So we are like a stick in rapids. Longing for the shores but overcome by water. Going where the current takes us. Falling from heights, crashing over rocks, wondering, dreaming of being planted and growing fruitfully.

The shores are not for everyone. But sometimes we get to rest on a bolder for a little while. Take in the sun. Enjoy the breeze. Maybe in the next storm we’ll wash up somewhere better. Maybe, with a little courage, the shore is more attainable than we think.