I like nothing more than the challenge of making an automotive part look like an art object. To reveal the intrinsic beauty in the little connector that connects three tubes. It’s not important what it does – well, it is to my clients. I think the beauty is too. Happy New Year!
There are details of every day life that must escape our attention. Who wants their head to explode? Plumbing is one of those things, it just works, hopefully. Let alone plumbing parts photography. I had the opportunity to work with a talented designer on a recent shoot. Shaping hoses to make pleasing contours. Controlling reflections to illustrate the part. Loads of fun. Really! Let me know what you think.
At the end of a shoot, after cleaning up the studio, the post production begins. This can vary between simply adjusting exposure, color, and contrast, all the way to extensive retouching, compositing and digital imaging. I have had clients ask for raw files, (sometimes called digital negatives) and that always makes me uneasy. It’s not that I think no one can process them as well as I can. I am certain many people can do better; I am afraid that they will not. I am judged by the outcome, and I have come to enjoy the control that being involved in the post production affords me.
Rare is the photograph that cannot be improved in post production. Even while shooting in the controlled environment of a studio there are usually things that can be done to improve it. I should say that if I come across an image that is six months old I can usually find things that I would like to change!
After carefully capturing the best image possible, the next step is to process the raw files. I use Capture One for both capture and processing. I recently upgraded to version 6. I am now able to do many more of the things that were once done in Photoshop, while processing. The advantage is that these edits are non-destructive. That means the clients (or me) can change their mind and I can go back and make changes. In addition when these edits are done while converting from the high bit format of raw files to the standard 8 bit format, a higher quality is maintained. I generally start with the exposure, because the color and contrast are dependent on the exposure. Color balance comes next, most often starting by sampling a gray card included in one of the captures. Then I further adjust the color to suit the shot. Finally I adjust the contrast. I am not fond of the contrast slider in Capture One. I prefer the more granular control in levels or curves to get the look I am after. Finally, I make sure that the pre-sharpening is correct. Ever since I read an amazing book by Bruce Fraser called, Real World Image Sharpening, I use a two-step process for sharpening. The first step is the pre-sharpening. I used to do this in Photoshop, I am now able to do this during processing in Capture One. The second step is output sharpening. For this I use NIK Sharpener. It sharpens an image differently depending on output device and size. Output sharpening is always the final step, performed after all the retouching or imaging.
Done well, post production can make a great image greater, or an average image acceptable. Done badly, well, it’s just sad. All of the pieces need to be in place, pre-production, planning and preparing for the shoot, production, the shoot, and the post production. Surrounding all of this of course is the concept, and execution of the piece the photograph is in. Without an idea to communicate, and excellent design…
- Social Media: Are you a member of LinkedIn or Facebook, Google+, Twitter or any number of online groups? You’ll want to present yourself as a confident and capable professional. This is the impression a professional portrait can deliver.
- Business Cards: Many corporate business cards feature headshots. Your driver’s license photo would do, but is that how you want to present yourself to clients and colleagues?
- Press Releases: Executive portraits are often included with press releases. You’ve won an account or a promotion. You need to look your best, and only a portrait by a professional photographer will do.
- Newsletters, Company Publications and Advertising: Does your company or organization have newsletters or other publications. Frequently these incorporate photography and business portraits. Think about the image you want to convey with your portrait.
- Finally, Company Websites: Often, but not always, portraits are included on company websites. Sometimes there is a group photo, to say “we are a large organization we can handle your account.” Other times it is individual portraits of the partners, principles, salespeople or everyone.
What ever your reason for needing an executive portrait or business Portrait, finding a professional photographer is not difficult. If you search Google or Bing using the phrase “executive portrait” and include a city or state name, the search should bring up plenty of photographers to choose from. Next look at their work to see if it is similar to what you want. Talk with the ones you like. Find out what they charge. Ask if they have a studio, how long have they been in business. Find out who are their other clients. You’ll want to select a studio that has a solid history and will be around for a while.
Establishing an ongoing relationship with a photography studio has benefits. You don’t have to search for and price several photographers every time you have a need another executive portrait, You will have confidence that the photographers you have already chosen can produce a quality product. By choosing one studio for your ongoing executive portrait needs, you’ll also get a consistent “look” for all the portraits.
Executive portraits come in many flavors, from a simple head and shoulders shot on a plain or mottled background to high production value environmental portraits. Portraits can be shot at your facility or at a photo studio. Expect to spend more for more complicated shots or backgrounds. At our studio, we charge a little more to shoot on location, because it’s more work.
Carefully choosing when to schedule a shoot can save you money. A sales or board meeting is a good time to schedule a shoot because many portraits can be done with one set up. We offer discounts when shooting more portraits per session. Environmental portraits (portraits taken on location) can range from modest to high budget affairs. Executives are often pressed for time, and we can set up lighting and composition in advance so they need only step into the set and spend a few minutes. Make-up stylists can also be an important aspect of a portrait session, offsetting the extra expense. Environmental portraits shot with available light or with minimal supplementary lighting offer a budget conscious alternative. Work closely with your chosen photographer to identify cost conscious ways to get the executive portraits that your company needs.
Well maybe not a silk purse, or come to think of it, a pig’s ear. Still, professional photographers are often asked to make great photographs from a plain or unfinished parts. Things most people would consider ugly or at least unattractive. Industrial or corporate photography is frequently doing this. Personally, I love the challenge.
Design is at the heart of interesting images. Many industrial parts have interesting design elements. I think it is necessary to see the parts as design elements, and not what they actually are. Circles, lines, shapes, repetition, texture and color are all very helpful. The saw blade has a lot going for it from the beginning. It’s red, and round, and has a brushed finish, as well as a bunch of little holes that add interest. Add a contrasting color, an interesting viewpoint, lighting that accentuates these qualities and some post-production magic, now you’ve got an interesting photo.
The large network server Room UPS’s were in some ways, a greater challenge. Large black boxes with little decoration, functional, but not much to look at. I repeated the design of the grill as a surface for them to sit on, and they became moody monuments.