Anyone who walks into my home, can quickly tell that I value photography. I have professional family photos covering the walls. Yes, mostly photos of our engagement, wedding, “day after” session, Avery as a newborn, as well as her 6-months portraits, are on display. Recently, I started hanging new frames for a photo collage in our hallway. Seth quickly asked me to please not put up any more family photos. At first, I took his words to heart and gave my decor some serious thought. However, in the end, I love a beautiful family photograph more than an amazing pair of shoes, an Italian leather purse, or a fresh haircut. Plus, does my husband really think I am ever, EVER going to hang paintings of roosters above the fireplace? Anyway, my point is that I choose to invest in beautiful light, memories, and togetherness.
I consoled myself by reassuring myself that each photography session has a very different style. While our wedding photos are bright, saturated, and delicately Photoshopped, our “day after” photos are more casual and artistic. Avery’s photos are very natural, clean, and bright. I knew these words to be true before I started taking and editing photos, but there’s so much more than clicking a button on a nice camera. For the purposes of this post, I will skip over all the complexities of pure technique and subject-photographer relationship and skip straight to editing. In summary: It’s not so simple. Obviously, you need to start with a quality photograph. Still, there’s so much more work to be done.
Editing has been a bit overwhelming. Lightroom 4 is extremely intuitive; yet, it also provides the tools to carry out complex edits. So far, I have been working on enhancing photos by concentrating on the subjects themselves. Ultimately, I want them to feel beautiful when they see their images. In my last photo shoot, I had the opportunity to begin to master the Tone Curve. I was inspired by one of Chris Orwig’s tutorials on Lynda.com. Since Karper is a child, I decided to give myself a little leeway. More importantly, I gave myself permission to fail.
In these first set of edits, I worked mostly with the blue channel in the Tone Curve. I also spent quite a bit of time making up for the limitations of my Canon 50mm 1.8 lens. It was a (what do they call it?) “learning opportunity” to figure out how to get rid of noise and sharpen images; however, I ordered the Canon 50mm 1.4 lens the very next day. (Thanks for the early Christmas present, mom!) I particularly like the vintage feel and depth the changes in the tone curve bring to Karper’s face. At the same time, I’m not completely satisfied with the clarity of the overall photograph. Take a look and tell me what you think. Please don’t be biased by the amount of cuteness you are about to encounter.
Ultimately, the passing grade comes from your client. While Karper’s mom enjoyed some of the edits, she prefers bright, sharp photography with more contrast. I can see why. Its was, after all, a bright and fun child’s birthday party! Here are some of the photographs in a more traditional style. Looking at them again, I think they could still be brighter; but, this is where I am out right now:
I think it’s important to try new things, start a portfolio that represents you, and risk having to go back and practice some more. In the end, what matters most is to be authentic and make your friend (or client) happy. After all, it’s not just your work, it is also their event, crafts, and family. And they may have a particular style they want to hang on their walls!
What’s your style?