Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Photography's Dirty Little Secret | davem photography

One of the secrets of photography is that you need to shoot a lot to get great images. I first read this on Chase Jarvis' Blog. On the recent athletic shoot I took 171 photos. Of those, I came away with 3 great images. These are the images that will make it into my portfolio, but I didn't stop there. I went into Photoshop to enhance the final images a little bit.

Below is the original out of Lightroom with some tweaking.
Although I like the original composition, I thought the lights in the background were a little distracting and did not add anything to the image. I used the burn and brush tool to darken and make the background completely dark, but left a little light spill on the bottom. I also used a sharpening technique to bring in more detail.

Here's another before image.

Now the final image.
Not a huge difference, but definitely an improvement. I burned the edges a bit and then sharpened the image to bring in more detail to the face.


This one took a bit more work. I darkened the sky. I prefer a more saturated and deep blue sky. I also dodged some of the parking structure to bring in some detail as well as the face. I also used the sharpening technique again.

As for the sharpening technique, there's the high pass filter technique, but I recently tried another. Not sure which I like better, but I like the reasoning behind the second technique. It's easy to go overboard, so follow the suggestions and add just a little bit. You don't want images to look over processed. It's a  rookie mistake.

So after 3 hours of shooting in the cold, 171 images and some Photoshop later, I have 3 images that I feel represent the quality of my work. Is that normal. Yes. Were the other images bad? No. They were okay, just not outstanding. Except for the 3 that I selected. Why 3? It has to do with a combination of lighting, angle, background, composition, pose & model expression all coming together. The only way of getting all those to line up together is to shoot a lot of images and try different things.

As I first stated, that's the dirty secret in photography.  All photographers do this, and if they don't they should. Only the best images should make it into your portfolio.

So now you know. You've got to take a lot of pictures to get a few outstanding shots. Is it worth it? Absolutely!

If you're looking for a portrait photographer in the Atlanta area, visit my portfolio.


Harry Arruda said...

Liking it a lot Dave !

French Riviera Wedding Photographer said...


I really really like the top photo - could be a magazine cover easily. I am always impressed by pure black backgrounds - so hard to achieve with little strobes!

A slight thing that bugs me just a tiny bit: it seems that part of the face (still talking about top photo) is burnt - or nearly burnt. Nothing shocking but just wonder if this is intentional.

Thanks for sharing!