Arthur Meyerson is an award-winning commercial, editorial, and fine art photographer celebrated for his control of composition and command of light and color. In 2012 he published The Color of Light, a collection of iconic, classic images that included this photograph.
Photographing families and large groups can strike fear into the hearts of many photographers. As for me, there’s nothing I’d rather do. I not only get to meet a lot of great people, but family groups are the most profitable portraits that I take. Everyone wants a copy of a good shot, and many of my family group photos result in the sale of a wall portrait or grouping with frames, plus several smaller prints.
When it comes to portraiture, celebrities are like everyone else, except that for editorial shoots your time with them is very limited. “I’ve literally had as little as 3 minutes and as much as 20 minutes with an individual,” Los Angeles-based photographer Michael Becker observes.
He stands in about 3 feet of roiling surf, wetsuit jersey glistening from repeated dunkings. The sky above Oahu’s North Shore is deep blue. Undertow currents grasp his legs—eroding sand beneath his swim fins—as water rushes seaward to build the next huge wave. He holds his bulky waterproof camera housing tightly, faces west toward the setting sun and checks the long tether attached to his wrist. He turns his head to watch the wave rise ever higher—a towering blue-green monster that’s starting to curl, white spume blowing off its top. He braces himself as best he can against the forces raging around him, points the camera toward the golden Hawaiian sunset, and waits as tons of water begins to curl over him, forming a tube. At what he hopes is the right instant, he fires off several shots and prepares to be pounded and rag-dolled by the massive wave.
I learned photography in the film days, and when the huge change to digital came along, I changed not only my gear but the way I see. I used to have to see in terms of very specific criteria of what would work within the ISO range of my film and what the film could record in terms of light and shadow. Low ISOs meant I couldn’t get enough depth of field, or a tripod was needed, or I had to light something because there wasn’t enough information in pictures that had incredible shadow detail. High ISOs often meant an unacceptable level of grain and bad color rendition. As a result I passed up a lot of situations that got my attention but were beyond the capability of my film to capture.
“I have a mantra that I live by,” states San Diego-based Tim Tadder. “I believe that I work with the best clients in the world, and that they demand the best out of me. If the job calls for equipment I don’t have, I’ll make sure that I have it available so that I’m delivering the best product I can.”
Does using social media as a marketing tool work for photographers? That’s what we aimed to find out by interviewing five photographers who have successfully used this particular marketing technique in very specific ways. Unlike advertising and direct mail, where you send out your material and wait for a response, and sales calls, which are more time-consuming, social media is a unique technique that can breed success, but only when properly and fully utilized. Many thanks to our photographers for taking the time and attention to share their thoughts and experiences (websites at end of column): Liz Cowie, Clark Dever, David Alan Kogut, Brad Mangin, and Chuck St. John.
Russell R. Caron
Sep 06, 2013
Published: Aug 01, 2013
One of the challenges to home or professional photographersthese days is trying to keep every portrait set from looking the same. In a world where “freshness” counts a lot, being able to mix things up from one session to another, from season to season, all without jumping through too many hoops to change the set, is an advantage for many. A current trend is the ability to not only change backdrops but flooring as well, and with that in mind we recently had the opportunity to work with products from a division of the pro lab White House Custom Colour called “Backdrops by WHCC.” They have a wide range of interesting offerings in both fabric backdrops and rugged “rubberized” studio flooring.
For almost a year I planned for the 22-day trip I took this past January to photograph among the indigenous people of Ethiopia. I did a lot of research so I’d know what to expect and how to deal with everything from the customs of the country to the weather and the traveling conditions. Also, I’d have a driver and a guide, and along the way I’d pick up local guides who’d know the ins and outs of specific villages, tribes, and dialects.
In these days of HDR, Lightroom, and Photoshop, is there still any point in carrying around Graduated Neutral Density (GND) filters? Often at photographic overlooks I hear photographers banging away with their cameras, shooting multiple exposures for future HDR images, while I nail the same scene in a single shot. More than once I have had one of these photographers scoff at me for using my “old school” GND filter, asking, “Ever heard of HDR?” While I am a firm believer in using all the tools available to me, including HDR, I feel that HDR is either unnecessary or won’t work in situations where multiple images are not possible, such as an action shot.
One of my favorite books as a child was Eric in the Land of the Insects, written by the Dutch author Godfried Bomans. In this humorous fantasy, 9-year-old Eric enters the landscape painting that hangs on his wall and discovers a world of man-sized wasps, bees, butterflies, and other insects that are stunningly similar to the world of humans. Once photography became a part of my life my world was populated with grasshoppers, spiders, snails, flies, dragonflies, and butterflies—Eric’s world.
Photographing couples is an art form that should not be underestimated. Finding the right way to get two people, no matter how wellthey know each other, to pose and stay in a position worth shooting can be extremely difficult. Success requires the right combination of clear communication and dexterous shooting ability. That’s why it is so crucial for portrait and wedding photographers to follow a clear system in order to have time to both shoot classically-posed shots and fun, candid photos.
There are stories we tell to explain ourselves, to clarify who we are, and to account for why we are who we are. And no matter what the apparent subject of these stories, what they are always really about is the past. “The past is never dead,” William Faulkner said. “It’s not even past.”
Jul 09, 2013
Published: Jun 01, 2013
After a grueling three-day walk, an elderly farmer, hobbling with the aid of two gnarly walking sticks, finally arrived at the hospital in Ometepec. The long distance and oppressive Mexican heat were not his only obstacles—the insidious cataracts that were slowly robbing him of his vision made his trek a precarious journey. A young mother, who had been sightless for several years, gave birth to a child. She had nursed her, raised her, and loved her, without ever seeing her face.
“Whether the client is advertising a travel destination or a product, such as clothing or sports apparel, I strive to set up the shoot with talent that’s the best fit for the ad,” lifestyle photographer Dennis Welsh proclaims. “That’s what makes the shot and the client’s message believable. That’s what sells it to potential customers. For instance, if I’m shooting for a ski company or a ski resort, I want to find skiers who can easily do what I want them to do. That conveys a sense of truth and honesty. If you start with skiers who are not convincing, you start with a deficit. In that case, you have to do the best you can with what you’ve got. If I’ve got great talent and a great location, a lot of things are already working in my favor.”