A Little Chat…

Jumping to Conclusions

Jumping to conclusions can be an extremely dangerous pastime…

They lead to unsubstantiated rumours that open up a very smelly can of worms…! The result being, speculation and gossip that the fragile, frail superficial human nature is yearning to justify the decision upon which the conclusion is based…? Here’s the thing, it could all have been cleared up by asking a simple qualified question as to the FACTS surrounding the intrigue…?

But alas, our poor snooty, know all, haughty and stubborn pride will not allow the question to be asked, as what on earth will we discuss now…? Heaven forbid we actually get the facts straight and cut the chase…Accordingly, in the course of our ensuing discussion and speculation many different theories will be offered, and then, Eureka… we have a moment of genius…the theory we are most comfortable with fits our original thought is decided upon…?

What have we managed…? well…we have passed the time with a ‘real sense’ of ‘achievement’ as we are now ‘very clever’ and our precious little egos are stroked. This ‘conclusion’ sends all into a state of ‘wild excitement’ all for nothing as it is far removed from the truth… We have employed a ‘simple’ mechanism for the sake of being accepted, dictated to, moulded by our surroundings and group/s (Similar to a Fraternity or Sorority Sisters…) upon which our entire existence depends…anything that remotely resembles a different angle is frowned upon and can lead to a very real fear of being shunned by ‘mere mortals’ so ingrained in us, we wet ourselves…! When do we start to think for ourselves and say ‘hang on a sec’ let’s check the facts…? Be real, it’s not that complicated…!

The Business of Making A Client Look Good

What is the object of a photographic commission from my client?

When my client decides to ‘show’ their ‘world’, as I like to call it, by advertising in print i.e. brochures, magazines and on-line to increase awareness and obviously generate sales.
My primary aim is to make their ‘world’ or product look good, if I can do this, my client is happy and I’m satisfied.
For the above reason, good quality images are necessary as these will be the window to any business, by creating a ‘want to need it’ with a consumer.

My client and I have decided to meet over coffee where we discuss the brief in detail and put the production into place. Here we write a ‘script’ that outlines the ‘theme’ or simply how the images should look.
This step is one of those where creativity can run wild, and usually does.
The most important factor in putting the package together, is our friend ‘LIGHT’, when we get this right, all else falls into place and we’re smiling. i.e. source, intensity, effects etc.

Once we have agreed on the brief, the set-up stage arrives, with attention to detail being critical.

I urge my clients to be present during the shoot, we are able make minor changes if necessary, as this is where the ‘story’ is being made.
With the many technological aids available to photographers (manufacturers need to come up with the next best thing too…..) Two of these, have helped me cut shooting and editing time.
Tethered shooting, my camera is connected to a tablet or monitor via a USB cable using specific software, we can view each image on a larger screen immediately post shot, which is far better than viewing it on the small screen at the back of my camera.
We decide which images stay. This helps for composition, lighting etc. and cuts down on the number of images we need to meet our goal.

With the ‘money shots’ being a priority and done, we are now able to ‘play’ by experimenting with more artistic set-ups producing some interesting results, in some instances we are surprised by some of the results, these ‘surprises’ sometime end up being preferred to those originally planned for.
I can’t imagine a client that does not appreciate this process, they experience first hand what it entails to get the desired results, AND they are a part of the process.
We are able to interact as the shoot progresses, making it a collaboration!

When we call ‘it’s a wrap’, and we have covered the brief, I start with editing, where the material we have recorded is ‘polished’ and packaged. (This step will have been in mind during the planning stage).
My choice of editing software is Adobe Lightroom or Camera RAW depending on what I have to do, and Photoshop CS6 for those finer details.
The editing software and process is only there to aid/enhance, and not, as many would believe to fix bad photos! (that is another story).

All of the above is merely to record the characteristics of light on a subject! and how it appeals to a viewer.
My Client Looks Good!

Some thoughts on Photography:

“Photography, as a powerful medium of expression and communication, offers an infinite variety of perception, interpretation and execution” – Ansel Adams

“Photograph: a picture painted by the sun without instruction in art” – Ambrose Bierce

“My first priority when taking pictures is to achieve clarity. A good documentary photograph transmits the information of the situation with the utmost fidelity; achieving it means understanding the nuances of lighting and composition, and also remembering to keep the lenses clean and the cameras steady” – Sam Abell, Seeing and Shooting Straight by Sam Abell

“This profession [photography] is deserving of attention and respect equal to that accorded painting, literature, music and architecture” – Ansel Adams

Ask yourself – “what’s MY image like?”

theoverberg

I just HADto do it … I had to send a message in response to one of the “Marketing emails” I received today (the guy’s photo was REALLYunflattering and was on his masthead – it put me right off actually wanting to read the email)  …

“Dear ******  thanks for your latest mailshot, it is well put together and generates interest …. but, with all due respect and in the spirit of trying to help someone, I pass this on to you as someone who is actively associated with marketing and image …. please consider having a professional portrait of yourself taken to add to your mail shots and placed on your website.

The image you are currently using is too small, it has bad colour and hues and really looks amateurish – sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it really doesn’t do you any…

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Not a boring week’s activities …

theoverberg

IMAG4656_1Had a great time at the Red Windmill chatting over a pot of rooibos … what struck me was how peaceful this is as a place to grab some “me time” to sit and relax, looking over the fields and enjoying the lack of hustle and bustle! Sure, you canhear the cars and the trucks go by, but the noise from them is so reduced it renders them an unassuming background noise. It was interesting to see a regular there – a chap from Struisbaai who comes there every week to enjoy a breakfast and he uses that time to reflect on his week past and what is to come! And then the ladies arrived – a couple of sisters who were driving around with their mother just looking for something different and delicious. They found it!

theoverberg.com accompanied Keith Murray (Keith Imaging) to the bright lights to listen…

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Most people take lousy photos!

Photography costsLet me elaborate on that statement – the images themselves might be great for Facebook sharing and for giving friends a ‘feel‘ for something that has happened in your life, but as a ‘good photograph’ … no!

The problem is that lots of business owners think that their camera-phone or their point-and-shoot digital camera snaps are just the thing for sending to the printer or the magazine in order to promote their business venture. But they’d be wrong. The lighting, the exposure, the background, the image size may all be factors in getting your audience to look at the picture and have a ‘ho-hum’ reaction instead of the ‘WOW‘ that you’re after.

For things like brochures, business cards, advertising spreads, and pamphlets, print media is unforgiving if the image is not just right – you could end up with blurred lines, pixellations and badly composed images that don’t give the right impression to your audience.

And your website? Doesn’t this present an even greater need to portray excellence and quality owing to the fact that a website or social media page is much more visible today than print media used to be because more people are using the internet instead of print.

So why aren’t you using a professional photographer to take the images you want the public to see? What images are you using that illustrate just how good your business or product looks? Are they camera-phone snaps?

“Cost!” would be the usual answer … “a professional is too expensive.” The counter to that argument would be, what cost is mediocrity?

A carefully planned and budgeted-for professional photo shoot is an investment in your business that will last for years. A bank of stunning images can be drawn on over the years to keep your website content fresh and dynamic. Professional images can be sent with confidence to printers for crystal clear representations on your brochures and pamphlets.

And professionally posed and shot images will send the message out that your business is top class and best quality. That is not to say that the camera phone snaps must never be used – of course they are valuable for the day-to-day social media sharing and keeping some things current. However they are the by-product illustrations of your business, not the ultimate showcase.

You might be surprised at the good value a professional actually is able to deliver – remember, “goedkoop is duurkoop!” 

(Afterthought: you go to a professional doctor, dentist, optician, plumber or electrician don’t you?)

Working towards better photographs …

Rule of thirdsAs the holiday season draws nearer and more folk are probably going to enjoy some kind of break or time off, it is highly likely that we’re going to see all types of holiday snaps on the various social media like Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. With so many mobile phones now able to take photos, I thought it might be a good time to suggest a few tips towards better images. These are general hints for the quick point-and-shoot type camera.

  1. Use the rule of thirds – in your mind’s eye, divide your viewfinder into thirds across and vertically so you have 9 blocks. Position your subject into one of the thirds (or on the cross-hairs) as a way of making a more interesting composition instead of putting it exactly in the middle.
  2. Move around your subject (if you can) so you cut out the “messy” background – you might have a wonderful subject but something in the background that will spoil the picture, like a car, or a street sign or a carport. Moving around might get you a better background that won’t distract from your subject.
  3. Don’t let shadows fall onto a face – rather take the portrait in full sun or in shade instead of under a tree with shadows making lines across the face.
  4. Watch the back-light – too much light behind the subject could make them very dark. A typical example is taking a picture of someone sitting at a table in a restaurant with a beautiful sea view behind them. The chances are you’ll get a wonderful shot of the sea and a dark blob where your friend is. Try taking the same picture by using a flash to light the face, or if that doesn’t work, borrow a silver tray from the waiter and get them to hold it at an angle and reflect some light onto their face.
  5. Where you can – use a tripod to get stability for your shot.

Watch for the next lot of tips for taking better photos. Practice as much as you can and don’t be afraid to delete. With digital images, you can afford to take a lot and then have the luxury of selecting only the best. Ditch the rest – you’ll take much better ones the next time! Gary Player said that the more he practised, the luckier he got. Photography is no different. The lucky shot will come – just keep practising!