These were fun pictures to take, I sponsor the local American Advertising Federation chapter and we needed to take some pictures to be used in the awards program. It gave me the chance to work on and work out a style that existed only in my head, building on the styles of Zack Arias' portrait of "Rabbit".. and Platon's quite incredible work but creating something that is my own. What drew me particularly in studying their work was they use much shorter focal length lenses than I would usually reach for, so it forced me out of a comfort zone groove to change and grow. As ever it was also a great challenge to take a series of "5 minute portraits" with the limited time available, always a good practice in communicating with who you are photographing, across this series the approaches differed wildly from laughing, cajoling and just letting people be and bring their own vision to the party - in this case I had the chance to observe them judging and then sitting together eating lunch so I had a fairly good handle on personalities with one another.
The above picture has no retouching other than dodging and burning, no healing brush, no clone tool, no filters. In a day and time of applying a filter to an image and calling it done, dodge and burn almost seems an anachronism, yet this throwback to film darkrooms is probably the most powerful tool in a retouchers toolbox in creative a unique style.
It has a use in almost every genre of photography, from portraiture, to fashion, to landscapes and architecture to name but a few. Ansel Adams is often quoted as saying "Dodging and burning are steps to take care of mistakes God made in establishing tonal relationships". I am not sure I would go quite that far, but when you look at this work of art that is Richard Avedon's notes to his darkroom genius there is a realization of just how much difference this can make.
Not only on this, but in photography and life I don't believe we ever truly master something. If I claim mastery it means that I have simply refused to consider there is more to learn, and that's a point at which I think life begins to wither and die. A description of Bobbi's job is that she "Practices Geriatric Psychiatry", I had not thought much about that term until she explained it to me (patiently and more than once). In my head a medical "practice" was just a name for an office or group of medical professionals, in her world it refers to practicing, there is always a new situation or different cause to research and refine, delving into and changing behaviors rather than accepting what is on the surface and why she is so good at what she does. I like that term, that no matter how I continue to evolve as a photographer and retoucher that I never stop practicing.
This last one shows an insight into "working things out", for the black and white it sat earlier in the evolution of retouching ideas for the images, and exists before I had to undo what I already knew, the color was right at the end. While they don't show where I will end up in developing this feel they are interesting to post publicly as an illustration of what goes on behind the scenes. There is a common theme across every photographer that I admire and that is a constant fire to learn, try something new and an evolution of style - enjoy the journey, not the destination !