Surround Yourself with Greatness…

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The advent of digital imaging has opened up the world of professional-grade imaging to an audience far greater than most photographers could have ever imagined. Yes–it’s true–it has never been easier to shoot a “pretty good” image, and people are catching on. It is super cool to see so many people fired up about photography, but with that new, sexy appeal comes its own challenges for those that make their living as full-time professional photographers. I’ll stop there…this is not another rant about my cousin’s uncle’s pony’s dog that just stole a great job from under my nose because he charges way less than me or (insert commonplace pro photog rant here). In fact, this post is quite the opposite.

It has always been apparent to me that we will never truly reach our greatest potential if not pushed by some outward influence. Whether that be encouragement from friends/family, discouragement from naysayers, or something somewhere in between, we will never really know what we’re capable of until pushed beyond that which we thought was our previous best.

My answer to this moderately crowded profession??? Embrace the competition. Surround yourself with greatness. Be confident in your own ability to produce something that has your own unique style/brand/stamp/calling card. Most importantly, BE BETTER. Don’t waste your time wondering why you weren’t published here or hired there–figure out who just got whatever you wanted, and what you can do to get it next time.

I was browsing the latest issue of Powder magazine and was blown away at both the number and quality of images put out by photographers that make their home right here in Salt Lake City. I’m proud to call many of them friends, and I’m even more proud to have my work included amidst theirs. If you want to be better than the best, you must surround yourself with the best. Then watch, listen and learn–don’t gripe, covet or make excuses.

These days, with the interwebz in every nook, cranny and nether region of planet Earth, we have the entire world at our finger tips. See your competition for the motivating force that it can be–and then be better.

 

Image Breakdown: Mountain Biking for Commercial Client

Image breakdown of mountain biker at Deer Valley Resort, UT

Happy Tuesday! Perfect day for an image breakdown if I do say so myself. This image was shot during a commissioned shoot for Deer Valley Resort several weeks ago and serves as a pretty good template for a standard action/active lifestyle image designed for client promotional/collateral use. Sit back and have a read…

1. Focus! Focus in an image like this should always be on the eyes of the athlete. Tack sharp is key here in order give proper separation from the background. On this shot, I pre-selected my focus zone in camera and began tracking the athlete about 2 seconds before actually clicking the first frame, thus allowing my camera to grab proper focus before the athlete hit the sweet spot.

2. Blurred foreground serves two purposes– a) takes the viewer directly to the subject with the soft/sharp contrast and b) provides usable negative space for the client for copy, logos, etc.

3. More negative space for the client to work with. When shooting imagery for marketing collateral, it’s important to think beyond simple image dynamics. You have to keep client needs in mind. This is a frame filling image without filling every part of the frame.

4. Direction. The athlete is moving IN to the frame, keeping the viewer IN the frame. Were the athlete moving out of the frame, it would, in fact, take the viewer out of the frame. That’s the kind of tension we don’t want. We want people hanging out at our party. Keep them in the frame.

5. Blurred background. This helps to further draw the eye to the subject of the image and give that separation between subject and background (refer back to #1). This is achieved by shooting at a moderate focal length, coupled with a large aperture of f3.5. Additionally, note that we’ve given adequate space above the subject for logos, masthead or anything else the client sees fit to throw up there.

6. Fill light. It’s important to see faces in these images. Fill light can be achieved with flash or reflectors. I’m not much of flash guy, especially when moving light and fast. Given the light source (behind and to the right of the athlete), fill was crucial to capturing a complete image. This was accomplished with my assistant holding a reflector and following the athlete as he came around the banked corner. Requires a skilled assistant (thanks Nate!)