Monday, January 4, 2016

Behind The Frame: Selecting The Image


Shooting film is expensive, about $3 for each click of the shutter, so many film shooters are conservative in how they shoot.  I've heard in many forums film shooters say they shoot an average of 6 rolls of 120 for an engagement session.  I shoot 8-10 rolls of 220, which is double the length.  Some call it overshooting, I call it selecting the perfect image.  Shooting more film has definitely slowed me back down from when I was shooting wildlife and had more of the machine gun style rapid fire 12 frames per second style of shooting.  However I still usually take a few photos of each pose and scene so I can be sure I have the perfect composition.  I interned and assisted with a few fashion photographers during my time at NYU, but the best lesson I ever got was while working in Richard Avedon's archive scanning negatives (which is actually where I met the bride in this photo).  I spent a few months just scanning individual negatives from a single photo shoot featuring Lauren Hutton in the Spring Paris collections in the mid 1970's.  There were hundreds of contact sheets, thousands of images with micro differences between each shot as she actively walked towards Avedon or turned her head slightly to the right or left.  I was given amazing insight into the editorial selection process by being able to see the original grease pencil marks made by Avedon himself and by the editors at Vogue.  At first glance I would look at a contact sheet and it would look like the same identical image taken 12 times, but then when I looked under the magnifying glass I could see the subtle differences like a toe pointed just so or a pinky finger extended naturally, but elegantly from the hand.  Those little differences took the photo from great to extraordinary.  When I'm shooting I can't always have that much control, and I'm not working with models, I'm working with real people, so the more direction I give the stiffer people tend to become because they get nervous they're doing the wrong thing.  Instead I let the action unfold naturally and I take a few frames and then the magic happens in selecting the right image like this one here where her foot is just brushing off the ground ever so slightly and he's actively pulling her in closer and just so happens to be echoing her leg with one out to the side.  Those little moments of composition and movement take the image from good to great and only happen by taking the time to snap a few extra.


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