Photoshoot Lessons

by Heidi

It seems that my first post after an unexpected hiatus should be filled with amazing news and spectacular pictures.  The truth is, things haven’t been particularly news worthy around here unless you consider loads of snot production interesting.  All four of us have been hit hard by the pollen, but we’re so much better now.  I also pulled a muscle in my lower back which frustrated my normal routine for a few days.  Throw in several hard conversations with various friends, some sad news with other friends and you see our month has been pretty full. 

One highlight for me my own private lesson in photography with my dear friend and professional photographer, Gretchen.  She wanted to do this for me because I had helped her with some other things, but I can tell you I got a lot more out of the deal than she did!  So one evening, after Steve got home from work and before her husband who is an eye surgeon (don’t know exactly what he’s called but you get the idea) got called in to work, we headed out. 

 Gretchen picked a location.  I agonized over hair style, clothing choices, and props.  In the end, the dress I chose was a gift from my aunt who purchased it during their trip to Greece.  Love it.  Love it.  Love it.  And, I loved it for a shoot at this location.

Our subject, Graceanna, was less than enthusiastic though.  We kept her busy with crackers, therefore, any really good shot was usually full of cracker mouth.  From that standpoint our session was a bit of a disappointment, but, the real purpose was for me to learn.  And, learn I did! 

The light was perfect, so warm and soft.  I finally have embraced the fact that if I want a “portrait” i.e. something I’d hang on my wall for all time, I have to committ 100% to the right light which is the right time of day.  I’ve known the importance of light and have experimented a lot with it, but I’ve come to a new level of understanding.  Oh!  And, I learned something completely new to me…dynamic lighting!  This is lighting you can’t find in a studio.  I don’t think.  Maybe you can, but wow what God has done with the sun and trees and grass just can’t be beat.

One thing I love about Gretchen’s work is that if it’s not excellent, it doesn’t leave her “shop”.  See how I cut off Graceanna’s hand?  Not good.  See the crackers in her hands and mouth?  Never, ever would have happend in the first place.  Gretchen is committed to excellence.  She is skilled in the traditional “rules” (why am I using so many quote marks?!) of photography and if she breaks one it’s for a good reason.  She has mastered her camera of course.  She also has a determined style.  But, she has something that can’t be taught or learned.  She sees in a way I just don’t.  When she puts her eye to the viewfinder something great happens.  I’m learning and improving but what she has is God-given and remarkable. 

Ok.  I didn’t mean to have a Gretchen commercial.  She’s going to be so embarassed if she reads this.  I just so admire anyone who is so committed to growing and learning and improving and committed to excellence.  And, of course, I love photography.

The next morning, Gretchen came to my house while our kids were at Mother’s Day Out.  We openned PS and from the first mouse click she did things differently than I had taught myself.  The only thing I know about developing film is that each step is precise and if done incorrectly the actual photograph is damaged, and it’s very similar to digitally developing your “film”.

I definitely had new tools and skills to practice but our edit session ended all too soon.  Gretchen was called away on a volunteer assignment for an organization called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep.  I love this organization.  NILMDTS is made up of professional photographers who give their time and talent to families whose babies are not expected to live at birth.  So, needless to say, I was eager to send Gretchen to this family in need.  Since then I’m finding it difficult to get this family out of my mind.  I know nothing of them.  I just know that a family in my city is hurting with such terrible loss.  What is boggling my mind is to know how many times these photographer’s services are needed.  One day, I would love to be a good enough photographer to offer myself for this cause.

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