Tag Archives: vintage

What’s Your Thing?

17 Jul

 

Moments of Light and Dark

Moments of Light and Dark

Finding your photographic style is a major part of developing yourself as an artist, developing your brand and defining your market.  It’s also something that many of us struggle with.  I know I certainly do.

Let’s start with a few examples, shall we?

For those of you who love HDR, I think it would be safe to say that Trey Ratcliff has built a solid HDR brand for himself.  When you see a Trey photo, you generally know it’s a Trey photo.  Bajillions (approximately, give or take) of photographers bracket…but not all HDR is created equal. Trey has an editing style unique to him.

The obvious B&W iconic photographer is Ansel Adams.  Strong landscape compositions and well defined tonal ranges, as well as his involvement in the National Parks systems made him a recognizable figure with a recognizable feel to his images.

When I think of light painting and luminosity masks I think of Ryan Dyar.  I know he didn’t invent the technique, but he ran with it and his images are evocative and emotional because of it.

I recently ran across an Instagram feed of two nomadic lady photographers who have style and branding down to an art.  (You can follow their adventures at www.ourwildabandon.com) Their images scream vintage and fill viewers with nostalgia.  The realities of road life may be difficult, but they market the hell out of the freedom of the open road and the joy of discovery.  They have even gone so far as to have distinctive poses for their images and a great witty yet friendly tone to their banter which makes them very likeable.  As with the others mentioned above, this may not be a unique style, but they wear it well. 🙂

So…now that we’ve had a little breakdown of what style means in a real life setting… its time to ask yourself, “What’s my thing?”

Are you set on saving the whales?  Are you an artist determined to emote through surrealism? Do you love deep shadows and solid highlights?  A clean symmetrical tapestry?  Square canvases? Good will and human spirit stories?

(In answer to your unasked question, yes, I associate all of those categories with a particular artist!  Because you know…it’s what they do and they’re damn good at it.)

It seems to me that while flexibility and the ability to cross photo genres is important for sustainability over the short term, defining who you are as an artist is an important step in long term success in today’s highly over saturated photo market.  To stand out, you need to find your thing and shine at it.

Shine on, my friends. 🙂

Ehhh…see what I did there?  Lighthouse photo?  Shine? Ehh?  Ehh?  The above photo was taken in New Haven.  Edited with luminosity masks, with some artistic license taken to remove some distracting items.  The antennae had to go, ya know??  Anyway…

Feel free to give us all a taste of your thing with a link to your portfolio in the comments and what your focus is!

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Another Look…

20 May
HDR Pumps

HDR Pumps

Often, I will take the same or similar images and process them in more than one way to compare the results.  It has turned out to be a great learning tool for me.  After a little practice with any given technique, I can more easily visualize the effect an editing decision will make ahead of time.  For me, that had lead to more efficient shooting, as I can create a RAW image that falls more in line with the finished product.

Yesterday’s post was an image of abandoned gas pumps, to which I added texture and a vintage color balance.

Today, I tried the same pumps from a different angle.  This version was processed as an HDR image, and the colors were destaurated.  The end result is slightly different, but still has a nostalgic feel to it.  Obviously, it had a bit more in the way of tonal range so will have less of a “Polaroid” feel to it.  That being said, the desaturated colors still remind me of a time when black and white TVs ruled the world. =)

When you take an image for yourself, editing choices become a matter of taste.  So I wonder, which one do you guys like better?

Welcome to Connecticut

19 May
Gas(less) Pumps

Gas(less) Pumps

I took a drive to Rhode Island the other day in hopes of catching a super awesome sunset by a lighthouse I discovered online.  That didn’t turn out quite the way I had hoped as everything around the island was bright and beautiful, but the area directly above the lighthouse was covered in dense fog.  I made the best of what I was dealt, of course, and will definitely share with you in the near future. 🙂

Despite the weather playing tricks on me, I did stumble upon a gem right on the CT/RI border.  This little gas station – long since closed – had so much character to it.  The light was dim (to say the least) but it was the perfect excuse to play with my new f/1.8 lens.

This is the first angle I tried. I envisioned an image with lots of texture and an antique feel to suit the subject matter. What do you think of the final photo?

Shake, Shake, Shake…

29 Apr

Vintage is in.  That means polaroids are groovy again. Can ya dig?

Polaroid of a Polaroid?

Polaroid of a Polaroid?

I bought this guy cheap simply because I enjoy photographing old cameras.  There is a strange, yet satisfying irony in it.  I also determined that the best way to edit this image would be to crank the vintage knob to 100 for two reasons.  The first obvious…I wanted to mimic the Polaroid prints it would have produced.  But also, as I mentioned in a previous (incredibly awesome, well-thought-out, inspiring, almost as good as a cold beer) post, vintage feels have been made popular by apps like Instagram and who am I to disagree with the laws of supply and demand. It’s what people want, therefore, it’s what people will get!

Also, for those of you in the know, yes I was referencing one of my favorite songs – Shake, Shake, Shake – off of one of my favorite band’s newest album. And for those of you who aren’t in the know…check them out! http://www.bronzeradioreturn.com/

Phoneography

24 Apr
Instagram - Powerlines

Instagram - Powerlines

I’m just going to say it.  The people at Apple, Inc. are marketing geniuses…es….ess. (How do you pluralize that?)  There was a time…before my time…yeah…that’s it…when the Mac had nothing on IBM. People looked at the Mac as inferior. All the cool kids had IBM (or IBM compatibles…Gateway, Dell, etc) and the rest…well, they had Macs.

That all changed with the white ear buds.  Even now, several years later, I still remember the first silhouette commercials with indie music playing on the iPod…and the white ear buds.  Those things became a status symbol.  If you had the white ear buds, you were part of the club. The ‘in crowd’. You were the next generation of cool kid.

Since then, Apple seems to have mastered the idea of brand loyalty and proprietary marketing.  After all, those go hand-in-hand.  The cool kids club comes with benefits.  A year ago, Hipstamatic was making non-iPhone owners drool.  And after that, Instagram.  iPhone users, and only iPhone users, could churn out vintage/retro images to a community of other vintage/retro image producers.  And did I mention it was cool?

Obviously, with the Android-Instagram app release, and subsequent purchase of Instagram as a whole by Facebook, the game has changed for that particular application.  But, the impact Instagram and Apple have had on the world of photography has not.  I’m going to break it down for you, mmmkay?

The first thing that I think is notable about community apps like Instagram is that it opens the creative door for people while at the same time providing affirmation.  Now, there are a number of photographers out there who decry Instagram as another way for the “me” generation to spew self-centered garbage out into the world.  (Disclaimer: the views of those individuals do not necessarily reflect the views of Seeing Spots Photography.  And whhhhyyyy? Well, let me tell you!).

I’m all for creativity.  I’m also, obviously, a huge proponent of photography. I also remember that my first camera was…ummm…limited. So were my photo editing skills.  And while my images might not have been quite as good as the work I produce now, it was still a creative outlet for me…  In the words of David Pasillas, an iphonetographer-friend, “I suppose we all started out with simple edits or bad filters and evolved into much more complex edits. I know I was guilty of putting awfully harsh vignettes on most of my images a few years ago. haha” (Check out his work with the iPhotos. He impressed me with how much he can do with just a cell phone and some apps!)

The second thing I respect about apps like Instagram is the likeability factor.  (I’m not even sure if that is a word…catch me if you can, Grammar Police!)  I think community apps like Instagram catch on because they make photography accessible.  Brian Jarvis, of the Brian Jarvis Band, uses Instagram as a marketing tool for his music.  He noticed that as a culture, we embrace technology that makes life (or in this case, creating art) easier and more accessible.  He gave examples he was familiar with such as Auto-Tune and Pro Tools.  People have readily adopted those programs because they make decent quality music recordings a whole heck of a lot easier. The polished studio sound still requires knowledge and hard-earned skill, but for the average consumer, a program like Cakewalk is a dream come true!

It would seem my friend Nick from Nick Exposed agrees.  He pointed out, “I think it all boils down to these companies bringing the ease of photo development into the hands of the average person. It gave the average Joe the ability to make their images stand out in a way that they haven’t had access to before without the help of a photographer or similar creative.”  That, in conjunction with the community aspect of the application – where you gain both affirmation and a sense of inclusion when you post images – makes Instagram a marketing win (times two)!

The obvious success that Apple has had in creating a culture of brand loyalty has, I believe, encouraged a whole generation to be creative.  In doing so, it has changed the face of 2012 photography by affecting demand.  For the “me” generation, the vintage feel of Hipstamatic and Instagram images is normal…and the “me” generation are our newest crop of clients! Is it any coincidence that there is a noticeable trend among portrait / event photographers (at least, in my area) to produce slightly desaturated images with adjusted color balance? As my photographer-friend Will from WhereToWillie.com said, “It’s a trendy thing now to have photos that have the retro feel. Vintage clothes are in, vintage looks are in.” Will finished that thought with a note about individuality, though. “I’m sure those of us ‘in the industry’ will be influenced by people’s notion of ‘what is cool’ in how we will process photos for them, but at the end of the day when I work on my personal photos, I’m doing it for me, and will continue to impart my personal style however that may evolve.”

That statement is, I think, a nice segue into the difference between iPhoneography and Instagrammers. While all of the creatives I talked to seem to agree that there are good things to be said about community apps like Instagram, it is also clear that there are limitations to individuality.  As David Pasillas said, “For me, there is a lack of fulfillment if I just apply a filter or an action to an image and call it good. Is that really art if you do the same thing to every image, or are you [just] showcasing a product (i.e. a filter or action?)”

He went on to say that iPhoneography is much more than applying a filter. It involves vision and education, just like in traditional photography. “At the end of the day, a camera is a camera. If you know how to use your camera, you can create awesome images regardless of the camera’s limitations…you can do impressive things with the iPhone if you take time to get to know the different apps available. And there are no shortage of awesome apps at very reasonable prices.”

Spoken like a man with some brand loyalty, right? =)

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Important other stuff!

I want to give special thanks to all of the people mentioned in this blog.  They were kind enough to share their time, opinions, experiences and expertise…greatly appreciated!

I don’t even own an iPhone! But Droidography isn’t making quite as big a splash.  Hey Apple marketing team…wanna donate some time to me?!