It's a line I've heard many times: "Your camera takes good pictures." In this age of smart phones where everybody has a camera, it's easy to believe that the camera does all of the work and the photographer just picks their favorites. The reality is that the camera doesn't have a brain to think about, and execute, the visual image that the photographer plans. Sure, a camera's features can help make it easier, but even a great camera, left to its own devices, will just take an average picture.
I often joke that my camera has lots of buttons and I even know what some of them do. The simple truth is that it takes a lot of time to learn how to take advantage of a camera's features, but even then, the camera is only doing what I ask it to do. Even after I have made the exposure, I still have lots of work to do.
I thought I would share a before and after to show the difference between what a camera does, and what I do after making the exposure.
This photo was taken during a session with Valerie at Freak Alley in downtown Boise. I had heard about the artwork and had been looking forward to my visit. The artwork is fantastic, and the colors are beautiful and vibrant. Valerie and I went through a series of locations and I was off to begin the process of culling images and retouching.
This is what my original image looked like. Like I said, an average result. As great a subject as Valerie is, there's no impact and nothing memorable about the image.
Valerie is properly exposed, but the wall just doesn't have the impact that I wanted. Plus that sign in the foreground just seemed to be a distraction even though it is an alley, but it just didn't fit in with the artwork. My goal was to get rid of the sign, do a bit of skin softening and punch up the background to give it more impact.
This final image is just what I had in mind when I was standing there looking through my viewfinder. The colors are much more vibrant, but Valerie is still the center of attention; as it should be.
Here are a few more of Valerie's images from this same session.
In each of these images, the camera did its job and created a digital image. And in each case, I went through a process of retouching the images to create the finished results that the camera couldn't. Any camera can take a picture, but it takes something more to create a finished portrait.
If you're interested in visiting Freak Alley or have another location in mind, contact us and we can start planning your session today.