Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Myth of the Natural Light Photographer...Buyer Beware!

This image would have been very good
had it not been for the side lighting on
the model's nose, that casts an ugly
sharp shadow on the side of the face.
We are cruising into the Easter weekend and I hope all of you are doing well.  In another part of a series in educating the client or future client I wanted to bring to you a thought that many photographers have regarding the term "Natural Light Photography"

There comes a point in the life of every photographer where they’ve heard a single statement that either enthralls the uninitiated or makes the more knowledgeable roll their eyes. This statement is said in five short words: “I’m a natural light photographer.”

Now, this shouldn’t offend you at all, it should make you think about your choice when hiring an individual to capture obvious memories you want to keep forever. Some folks are genuinely natural light photographers because of the type of work that they do–and so they spend their hours quite literally chasing the light in order to make a living or to one day make it their sole source of income. Famed Australian photographer Peter Lik comes to mind.

Again: they spend their hours quite literally chasing the light in order to make a living or to one day make it their sole source of income. These photographers spend lots and lots of time watching the weather forecasts and determining just the right spots and times to go out and take photos. There are hours of prep and lots of conceptualizing done to make the most of the small window of time.

And again in case it isn’t hitting you: we’re talking about pros and aspiring pros.

These photographers are not the ones that are the focus of this article. Why? Because they’re learned how to actually utilize light no matter what type it is and they learn how to read it and make the necessary adjustments.  
This image was shot in a natural light setting using
a speedlight and single softbox. The results
are soft and beautiful.

The other breed that we’re talking about are the camera owners that hide behind a veil–stating that they only shoot with natural light in some phony effort to make themselves look more nouveau than thou. But what they’re actually saying translates into: “I have not a damned clue how to use a flash, but I’ll use constant lights.”

These photographers are the ones that fumble when they score gigs that require the use of a flash, knowledge of how to set it and work with it,  They’re also the ones that go on to tell clients that they have to wait until there is a cloudy day to shoot in order to get the softbox look. To no end, these are the photographers that fake it in order to make it.

The “Natural Light Photographer” also refuses to learn how to use artificial lighting–and typically work instead to simply capture a scene that someone else puts work into rather than actually manipulating the scene to be what they want it to be. Oftentimes, it’s also fair to say that these shooters don’t necessarily have a creative vision of any sort.

So what’s the problem?

It’s a sign of weakness and it’s nothing but a lie to the client when your images lack what a true creative and knowledgeable strobist can create. These other photographers can theoretically shoot anytime during the day or night and usually find a way to make their images look like it was shot at any time of the day.

And at the end of the day these photographer don't realize they are hurting themselves. Top sushi chefs don’t say that they can serve puffer fish unless they absolutely know how to do it. The best way to actually learn how to light is to adopt the mentality of being an available light photographer. The use of reflectors, umbrellas, flashes, monolights, softboxes and more are the only things that can help you achieve a more tailored vision because there is only so much that you can do with natural light until all of your images look the exact same and someone figures out a way to mimic your technique and do what you do for cheaper.

And if you’re going to shoot in only natural light, at least learn to get exactly what you want and need in a single shot the way that medium format film photographers and large format photographers used to do.

If you are searching for a photographer that states they are "A Natural Light Photographer" ask to see a physical portfolio.  Every reputable professional photographer has one of his/her images. If they don't again buyer beware.  You then have to ask yourself what are they hiding?

I realize my clients are spending a considerable amount of their hard earned money to get in front of my camera.  This article is part of the education they get when we sit in our pre shoot consultation meetings.  I want them to not only know about me and my work to make an educated decision, but I want them to know what is happening in the industry.

I appreciate all of you that have taken the time to part of this blog and community of both photographers and consumers.

If you have questions or comments please direct them to my website and click on the contact us tab.

Have a great Easter and keep shooting!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Why Choose R Nolan Photography for your Senior Photos?

R Nolan Photography is dedicated to providing you with the best experience possible, from the minute we meet in our consultation until your prints (yes I said prints) are delivered.

I get asked this question several times, “Why Should we choose you?” 

So this is where we begin…my first thoughts are why on earth would you want your pictures looking like 400 other graduates from the area, same background, and same poses.  Not to mention the same greenscreen being used by ten other photographers.  WHY NOT BE DIFFERENT?

In my consultations, which I will get to in a bit I’ve come to find that many seniors are under the impression that the school photographer must do their senior pictures.  This is not true; you do have a choice to have your portraits done differently.


That being said what makes R Nolan Photography different?  Why are we the best choice in Steubenville, OH for senior photography?  The answer is simple.  I want you to be YOU.  I want you to be different and I want your photos to be different from the hundreds of others graduating this year.

How does it all begin?  We start our senior experience with a consultation.  This is where I find out all about you, what you like, what you don’t like and what ideas you have for your senior photos.  Then together we will come up with a concept for your shoot.  From that point I encourage you to send me ideas about clothing, hair, makeup and even locations.  We will then talk about anything you may want to incorporate into your shoot.  Then we map out your senior photo session.

The day of your shoot has arrived and since we have done all of the preliminary preparations we can run a smooth shoot.  You can show up on location or at the studio confident that this is your day (we typically do one shoot a day).  You will have the complete attention of my team and we will help you get picture perfect for your shoot.  You will have your outfits (yes I said outfits) ready to go, all paired up perfectly with the location we are shooting in.

You want your shoot to be an experience…and that all begins with trusting your photographer.

I also would like to make it very clear unlike many photographers WE DO NOT HAVE A SITTING FEE, because I am confident you will love your images! (A small deposit is required and credited towards your final package purchase)

Sunday, March 6, 2016

How do I become a Model...A question I get asked a lot!

Before I really dig into the answers I want to say this, not everyone is cut out for the profession, just because you post a few pictures on Facebook and Instagram that friends and family "love" doesn't mean you are ready to go sign a contract.  
Reputable agents and talent scouts are brutally honest and very choosy about who they have representing them in public.
This is a very competitive and lucrative career if you connect yourself with the right people, if you don't it can be a costly and damaging career if you find yourself listening to the scammers that are out there.  My advice DO YOUR HOMEWORK!

So a few answers to that question, How do I become a Model?

Know the type of modeling you want to do…

The first step in becoming a model is knowing what type of modeling you want to do. There are quite a few areas to choose from–print focuses on magazine photo shoots while runway models walk the catwalk for labels. There are also more commercial options such as being a swimsuit or catalogue model. Plus size modeling has made an impact in the recent years too. 

Find the right agency…

Now, that you have figured out what type of modeling you want to do–look for an agency that specializes in the field. You can search online for agencies quite easily. A simple “model agency” query will garner a lot of results. Search for an agency that’s local to your area, and it’s important to remember to research an agency first. Think: What models do they represent? What type of jobs do they book? Are there complaints online about this agency?
And remember, if an agency asks for money upfront, charge you for "workshops" or promise you tons of jobs and money you should stay away at all cost. So called “modeling” schools are also suspect too. There are plenty of scammers out there looking to take advantage of aspiring talent.

Take the right photos…

After you have researched the right agencies for the field you are interested in, you will want to contact them. Most agencies have forms online where you can send in your photos and stats. Stats include your height, measurements and weight. They will also want to see photos of you. Don’t worry, you do not need to get a professional shoot done. And you should never be tied to an in-house “agency photographer” But I would say professionally digital photos are what most agencies prefer.  Make sure to do a head shot and full-length shot. Wear no makeup and a simple tank top and pants. Take the photo in natural light so people can see your features. Look for a response within (usually) 4 weeks.
Some agencies will do open calls, where they will see aspiring models from the street–bring your digitals or past professional work printed out. Once again, keep your styling minimal. You may be told you are not what they’re looking for or get a callback later.

Image: Gisele Bundchen in H&M Campaign
Be prepared and think ahead…

If you are lucky enough to get signed, you should also know all the difficulties that come with the job. Depending on the jobs you book, traveling can take you away from home a lot. Rejection is also something, especially at the beginning of the career, you need to get used to. Even if signed, some models have part-time jobs. That’s why we recommend having a backup plan just in case your modeling career doesn’t pan out. But, if you manage to make it, there is a world of opportunities. Models like Gisele Bundchen, Cindy Crawford and Kate Moss have transformed their looks into lucrative careers with their business smarts. Think ahead, always!