Thursday, July 27, 2017

What I Learned When I Got My Photography Studio Up and Running Again

Completely Obsessed

I've written about photography a lot lately. It's not a new interest. When I graduated from college back in 2001 with a degree in Music Education, I was seriously considering abandoning my music career and applying for a job as an assistant to a local photographer, from whom I hoped to gradually learn the ins and outs of the trade and then branch out on my own somewhere down the road. Well, life had some other ideas in mind, but a considerable amount of photography has nonetheless been a part of whatever phase of life I've found myself in.

I'm finally getting serious about it now. Okay...yeah...I was serious about it back in my early twenties too, but at that time there was a heck of a lot I didn't know. And, more importantly, I didn't know I didn't know it. When you don't know something, you can learn. When you don't know you don't know something, you're stuck in one place. In my twenties I was stuck. Now, I'm able to move forward.

Trapped in the Last Century

If you've read my previous photography posts, you know I'm trying to save up the money for a digital camera. For the time being, I'm still shooting on 35mm. While I crave the versatility that digital photography will give me, still I'm grateful for the lessons learned while shooting film. Because if you can learn to consistently take good pictures on a film camera, you can take good pictures on any camera. And in my most recent experiment with studio photography, I learned a good deal.

Some Things I Learned

First of all, I learned that if your husband has a big gray beard and carries around a little extra weight, and you try to achieve a "film noir" look with your lighting setup, all your friends will think you're married to Orson Welles:

Also, if you're trying to emulate film noir and you want to get that cool hat brim shadow over the eyes, you need a hat with a bigger brim than the one we had:

Some lighting effects require three lamps. If you only have two, an accessory hot shoe flash pointed directly at your subject can provide an effective fill light:

I also threw my husband behind the camera so I could step out front for a while. The things you learn when you look at pictures of yourself are quite different from the things you learn photographing someone else. For instance:

Hard lighting (we were going for "film noir", remember) brings out every crease and wrinkle on your face:

Diffused lighting, on the other hand, does a lovely job of smoothing out unflattering lines:

When you're doing self-portraits, you can't see yourself, so make sure you ask the guy behind the camera (aka, the husband) to check your teeth for lipstick stains:

If you want a backlit image, be careful where you position your lights. If they are too close to the subject, it could have disastrous consequences. Oh...and wrinkles...yeesh! I swear it's just the lighting; I don't usually look like this. Really, I don't.

And finally, if you are a blue-eyed redhead and you put on loads of makeup (again, film noir) then open your eyes really wide for the camera:

You find you bear a startling resemblance to Lucille Ball:

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