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Classic photography - what is it? - part 1 of 1

Published 01/05/2003

The word, "Classic" means something that will be as good tomorrow as it is today. It won't go out of style. Isn't that what most of us want for our pictures? So, what does it take to develop a classic style? Some people think that it means getting way "out of the box." Doing something new! Refreshing! Eye-opening! Fresh! Fun! Different! I agree.

But it needs to be good, too. Many photographers in an attempt to develop their own style seem to be missing the fact that their photograph needs to be good, too. Simple. Direct. No distractions. Black and white or colour? It really doesn't matter. What DOES matter is that the photography needs to make a statement that affects the viewer. Photographs that are eye-catching, appealing to the emotions and images that impact the viewer.

You just can't do that consistently without having developed a style. That means really knowing what you're doing. Not just playing around and experimenting. Sure, it's good to experiment, but only when you've developed good taste... A good foundation upon which to base your opinions. Otherwise, how would you know if it's really good?

Unfortunately, in my opinion, many photographers are losing touch with the fundamentals that allow a photographer to come up with different images.... But images that have power...lasting value.


The proof is in the pictures!

In my own case I've been studying photographic posing, lighting and composition for over fifty years. I'm still learning. Pretty difficult for a guy to admit, especially since I knew it all, I thought, over twenty-five years ago. Well, I'm still learning and growing. I don't have to change my style, since it's based on a very strong foundation. What I have to do, however, is to keep myself excited. I can only do that by constantly producing images that please me as well as please the viewers of my photographs.

So, this past year I entered print competition at the 1993 WPPI convention. I entered 31 prints. 25 of them scored over 80. I DID think that many of my pictures were underscored, but at least they were appreciated and judged as something very special. I'd like to share a few of them with you here in my opening presentation in this magazine. I'm hoping that there will be enough interest in these photographs to make it worthwhile for me to publish regularly

I I was able to easily drop out the original sky in Photoshop by going Select/Colour Range. With just a few clicks on the sky I was able to select the sky completely. I had to add the clouds into the selection, of course. Then, on a separate layer I deleted the sky. In my computer I have a collection of skies that I photograph whenever I see an interesting cloud formation. This sky came from a very peaceful sunset in the Caribbean. I adjusted the sky in Levels to make it look stormy. I moved the statue onto the new sky and the rest is history.

Same sky - different feeling entirely!

Simple photograph, but with years of background experience behind it. I shot the portrait from a low angle, because I knew that I would later replace the dull sky behind him. So, with that thought in mind of needing to replace the sky I needed a simple background behind him to begin with. My knowledge of portrait posing and lighting made it simple for me. I had him angle his chair to my camera position, turn his back to me and then turn his face towards the light source for an exact profile. He turned his face just enough for the open sky to create perfect profile lighting....a fact often missed in profile portraiture outdoors. The sky is the exact same sky as in the previous picture - just flipped and changed in Levels.

Bridal portraits for all-time!

Two windows and a reflector beneath her face was all it took to create this portrait. Less is more. Nothing to add. Nothing to take away! Why complicate things?

Or, how about a bride with her attendants. Do you need to show faces all the time? I don't think so, Story telling pictures. Based on lots and lots of background training. Images that LOOK unposed are often better than strictly candid. PJ or traditional? What's the difference? Why does one have to choose?

Interested in more? Have to warn you, however, I'm all about classic photography!


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1st Published 01/05/2003
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