As photographers we should all realise the benefits of “personal projects”. Whether we are full-time, part-time or enthusiast, a personal project now and then can freshen up our work. It can also push us into areas that are unfamiliar and help us to grow as artists. Thirdly it can give us the confidence to include new techniques in our repertoire.
I do about 20-30 personal projects each year. They are not all “world changing”, but many of them are “me changing”.
The bottom line is that I love photography. I need to shoot. I need to learn. And I need to get the buzz from creating new work.
Many of my project shoots are “ad lib”. I organise to meet a model at a location and just decide on the spot what to do. But many are also carefully orchestrated and these are the ones I would like to write about today.
I find that there are five distinct stages involved in these shoots:
Finding an image or an idea that impresses you. It’s not that you want to copy the shot. It just gives you something to aim at or to work around. This was my inspo image for a shoot I organised through Hunter Creative last year.
Working out the technical needs of the shoot. Things like lighting angles, camera position, poses, composition, location needs, time of day, variations on the theme, etc. What to do if things go wrong.
Finding a suitable model. Locking in a location. Sourcing suitable props. Preparing equipment (lights, modifiers, camera gear, accessories, wardrobe). Spare gear, batteries, drinking water, changing facilities, make up and hair styling. In this case our HMUA was Kayla Crowe and our model was Krysta Heath.
If the first three steps have been done properly then this step is the fun part. In this case our shoot was postponed three times because our bike owners pulled out. Luckily we had a friend stepped in at the last minute with a bike that we could use. Here is a shot straight out of camera.
A shoot such as this tends to evolve as it goes on. Lighting of subject and background, camera angles and poses are changed and refined as it goes. When you are happy with the shot then you can try some variations, keeping in mind that (if they are not being paid) the model and HMUA need to be getting shots that will suit their needs as well.
Here are a few variations we tried.
Ansel Adams once said of film photography that “The negative is the score of the music but the print is the performance”. To me (relating to digital photography) this means that the camera exposure captures the detail of the scene, but it is the processing that brings out the photographer’s interpretation of the image. This step is just as important as any of the previous four. There may be a few different interpretations produced from the same file. It is up to you as the creator.
Here is a shot out of camera and the finalised image.
Krysta was lit by two strip boxes from 70 degrees camera left and right. The background was lit by a single speedlight from high right parallel to the brick wall to emphasise the shadows of the metal structure.
Here is the “Behind the Scenes” video of this shoot: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmcIdkCsXCs&t=219s