Monday, August 31, 2015

When All Your Work Sucks

I was trying to think of a super clever way to open this blog post; something about how everything happens in seasons and you have to go through the winter in order to enjoy the spring and blah blah blah, but all of it just sounded trite so I scrapped it.
It feels a lot more honest to simply say that I'm kinda bummed out right now because I'm going through a phase where I feel like all my work sucks.
I'm not looking for compliments or pity or anything like that because I know that this is a phase and I know it will pass but the honest truth of it is that it's really hard to be an artist, and even harder to earn money doing it.
The whole seasons thing is a really overused metaphor but it's accurate. I've noticed that I will go though a period of immense growth where I'm seeing a lot of change in my work and I'm feeling excited and fulfilled and I'm happy with just about everything that comes out of my camera. Shortly after that, I will hit some kind of bump in the road where I look at my portfolio and I just want to pour bleach in my eyes.
There's no knowing what will cause that sudden change, it could be anything, but it's always something that makes me question the value and quality of the work I'm putting out. Maybe I didn't get a job I was hoping for, or a sale was less than I expected, or an editorial that I thought was amazing didn't get picked up, or whatever it is, and I start questioning myself which just poisons everything I look at.
It's a frustrating thing, but now that I've gone through it more than a couple of times I'm able to recognize something. Phases like this always push me to get better.
This is the time I start ruthlessly culling my work and narrowing down what I put in my portfolio.
This is the time I feel hungry to learn everything that I can about my profession.
This is the time that I'm able to look past the emotional attachment and be more objective about my work.
This is the time it becomes easier for me to recognize how much I still have to learn, how far I still have to go, how hungry I am to become the best at what I do.

When this season of sucky work comes to an end, I my passion and creativity will be rekindled and I will be out again, chasing the dream.

For now, I'm just going to shoot through it, try to make amazing images, and spend way too much money on junk I don't need...and chocolates.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Helicopters, Explosions and Beautiful Women; Birthing a Composite

Not too long ago I got the wonderful opportunity geek out a little bit. I've been watching James Bond movies since I was a little girl and I've always loved the action and intrigue. When one of the models I love to work with, Miss Amberlyn, contacted me with an idea for a shoot and tossed out the words "spy" and "helicopters" I was on board without having to think twice.
We were lucky enough to work with Northwest Helicopters Incorporated who gave us access to the Tarmac, and Yellarich Productions on hair and makeup.
If you've been following along on my Follow Sarah Blogposts, you'll know that I've got an intern, Sarah, who is really hitting the ground running in her photography business. She got the fun job of being VAL, my Voice Activated Lightstand, as well as grabbing bags and making brilliant suggestions like, "you might not want that bright orange flag in the shot."

I wanted to approach this shoot with a very cinematic feel, using my vast knowledge of spy movies as inspiration. And while the photographs were stunning strait out of camera, (SOOC, for all you photogs out there) I couldn't help but think...what is a spy movie without a good explosion?

*Cue mad photoshop skills*


Unfortunately, you don't just get to have explosions on a commercial Tarmac in the middle of your state's capital, so I knew I would have to composite one in. I first needed to find a stock photo of an explosion since I don't have a very good chance of photographing one of my own...unfortunately. I searched around on to find an explosion that I liked the look of but was also on approximately the same angle as my photograph was.

Here is a fun look at the image from start to finish.

This shot is SOOC (straight out of camera)
I shoot in neutral, which means that no contrast, sharpening or saturation is added to the image in camera. It will look a little bit dull, but it gives me a lot of range while editing.

This is the stock explosion

And the image after compositing the explosion in and adding a bit of reflection on the helicopter and some orange light that would be there if the explosion were really there, adding a sense of realism

Finally, I needed to do some color work to give the image a more cinematic feel.