What’s holding you back

I saw a link in facebook that talks about photography and the topic was about what’s holding you back in your photography journey. It didn’t take a lot of thinking for me to jump into the article and find out myself what I’m lacking and maybe help it share to my students as well. Hoping that this article will free everyone from disappointment.

It’s always been a challenge for me to shoot close to fine arts type of fashion editorials. I love the photos but can’t seem to nail it. You just have to keep on doing it and continue to challenge yourself. (Model: Adriana Gots)

With a ton of excitement, I watched the video. After a minute of beating around the bush I decided to end the video and start the automated assessment, it turned out to be too general and definitely not something i was expecting. I decided to write about the topic instead and share my own experience in the ever complicated world of photography. Continue reading “What’s holding you back” »

Down the Rabbit Hole

Shooting the Coach: After one hour of shooting I decided to take a break. I can’t seem to find the right light. If there’s a bad hair day, you can call this the bad light day. I kept on trying for another hour until I got what I want. From three lights to one. (Model: Lorie Enriquez, Makeup: Catherine Diala)

I am at a helpless level in photography right now. Gears cannot help me anymore. Majority of the challenge right now is creativity. The pace of Improvement at this stage is very slow. Tons of effort with few positive results. Still don’t know how long and far this level will be and what will be next down the rabbit hole.

When I started shooting fashion inspired photos back in the 2010, I had my eyes fixed on a target. I know what I want and where I’m headed. The destination was clear. I also know that there will be many challenges ahead. I had everything planned and although I made some adjustments along the way, it was manageable.

Continue reading “Down the Rabbit Hole” »

Problem Solving

I’ve been shooting fashion inspired photos for about 7 years already and not all of them came out well. One common thing though is I’m learning in each and every shoot I had, especially those ones that are frustratingly challenging. When it happens, nothing will be in place and no matter how you try to solve it, it will just get worse.

I recently had a chance to shoot Ms.Mara Smith, a Bisaya Black-American-Filipina standing 5 feet 10 inches tall. She was a natural in front of the camera. After preparing 6 lights, one was enough after all.

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Leaving a gem behind

The photography industry fed by the camera manufacturer with the latest functionality and technology has been in this cycle ever since. Photographers would mostly want the latest gears in their hand whether it’s essential in their workflow or maybe the thinking that it can improve your shots.

I should know, I’m one of the zombie photographer who always want the latest tech in my hand. My shots did really improved but I don’t think the camera has anything to do with it. Maybe I was inspired to shoot better because it’s top of the line equipment but no, it was all me.

Since I normally shoot tethered in studio, the LCD disadvantage in 5D MkII is not an issue. Maybe a bit issue in focusing but it’s manageable. Other than that, everything works perfectly fine. (Model: Danielle Pires, MUA: Catherine Diala)

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In between colors

When I’m in a studio, it is both frustrating and fulfilling at the same time. The pressure to create something artistic and visually appealing can be a frustrating situation but when you pull it through, the satisfaction and the feeling of fulfillment is just immeasurable. In my recent shoot, the idea of playing with gobo and color gel just came to me.

This is my first time to mix color gels lighting effect with gobo. A total of 4 lights was used to create this image.

My last experiment with color gel was way back 5 years ago. Nothing much with gobo though, mostly just to block the unwanted light. Gobo and gels is one of those techniques that will either work or not. There’s nothing in between. I takes a lot of experiments and understanding of how to create the effect. Continue reading “In between colors” »

Creative Space

I started serious photography sometime 2010 and I started it in a studio. Although I took some landscape and a few outdoor shooting back then, still, my creative space is inside a studio. I guess you can say that my photography was born in a studio. There was a point in my photography journey that I feared shooting with ambient light.

Started shooting inside a studio again. One light setup. (GRP Studio – Malate)

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Color Toning

Color grading is mostly used in editing movies. This is one way to set a mood and trance the audience into a different experience. If you’re a fan of the movie Matrix, you can obviously see the green in the mid tone and shadows in the entire movie. It was a bit exaggerated and weird but it works and it sets the mood and depth of every scene.

Apply grading or color toning in still photos is a lot more easier than in movies. You also get a lot of control on the tones when editing having more pixel quality than in movie frames. One way to completely flip your image from an ordinary looking photograph to something different and distinct is applying color toning.

n this photo, you can see that the skin color is a bit desaturated. Blue is added in shadows and yellow in highlights but applied very subtle. (Model: Christy of Stacy Model Management, Janice BeautyFairy for makeup)

Color toning is tricky and can ruin your image if done wrong but of course it really differs from the artist’s taste. In fact, Instagram is using color toning as filters to add a unique approach to your photos. The effect of the technique is surreal but applying just a pinch of toning can make the difference between an everyday looking photo to something interesting. Continue reading “Color Toning” »

Retouching

Almost five years ago, I took this shot. We were practicing beauty shot and until now I’m still connected to this shot. Still feels like yesterday. Model: Cherry Maine, HMUA: Joshua

Every time I start my lecture about fashion photography, I almost always get a question if my photos are edited. In the back of my head, this guy probably is in the midst of trying to get his photos to look like the ones in magazine and at some point, he wanted to know if he’s missing something.

I totally understand the question and where it’s coming from. I’ve been there and I can remember it vividly on how I always get frustrated to achieve a commercial grade or at least gallery level quality photo. The answer is yes, they are all edited. However, as much as you want it enhanced in editing, the quality of photography will always draw the limits. Continue reading “Retouching” »

Of Confidence and Imagination

Last weekend, I handled another fashion photography workshop at Philippine Center for Creative Imaging (PCCI). It was surprising to see photographers interested in this genre to come from different industries. One was an IT consultant who loves to shoot fashion on the side. There was one who owns a printing company and the other one owns a trading business.

Shot by one of the students. A lot is happening in the set. There’s lighting to pay attention to and of course working with the model at the same time.

I myself also came from the graphics industry for two decades of my career but decided to go full time shooting commercial and fashion. My students last weekend did not only come from different industries, they were also different in characters. We had one that completely mutes when shooting the model to the one that won’t stop talking in the set. Continue reading “Of Confidence and Imagination” »

Up your Photography

Have you been asking yourself how those beautiful photos in 500px, Flickr and other photo sharing website is done? Why is it so perfect? I have to admit, I did asked myself about it many times. It’s even one of my driving force to better myself every time. Sometimes you’d wonder if you’ll ever reach that level of photography that is worthy of admiration.

One way to visually see your zones is to show the histogram of the image. It allows you to see the distribution of tones and channels in different zones.

Well, there’s two parts of achieving those type of photos, one is excellent photography and the other one is masters in photo editing. The same complexity and a combination of art that you can find in photography, photo editing is just as deep as it goes. Photo editing compliments photography. Continue reading “Up your Photography” »