Image Hosted by

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Natural Light... Camera... Action!

I admit - I'm a voyeur of sorts. Before you jump to any conclusions and suggest I be put on a national registry list, hear me out for a second. The kind of spying I like to practice is of the public variety. I always enjoy watching how other photographers work and how they capture their breath-taking images. I'm always looking for new ways to challenge my thinking and 'seeing', and observing other photographers in action is sometimes a great source of inspiration.

In that spirit, the following is a short series of images showing first how I like to move around to see different perspectives and secondly the resulting images. It should be noted that I no longer like being photographed which may be partly why I decided I wanted to be the photographer... that way I'm always on the safe side of the lens at parties, events and even family get-togethers where the likelihood of ending up in unflattering or - worse yet - blackmail-worthy images is high. It wasn't always that way; I used to have a smile I was proud of, but somehow over the years it's turned into something that no matter how hard I try ends up looking like somebody asked me to smile a half second after eating a habanero pepper. Painful stuff... in both cases. But in this case, my friend, Tina, was assisting me for this session where we were photographing her friend and co-worker, Leanne, and Leanne's husband John, and Tina captured these images of me while I was photographing this fun couple. BTW, Leanne is another creative, and she graciously offered her amazing talent in writing a lot of the copy in my first brochure earlier this year that Tina designed.

In general, I love details - the things that we often overlook everyday that are so distinctive. I think that's why I like hand photographs so much. Hands are so distinctive and have so much character. You can often identify someone just by looking at their hands. I think that's what makes the resulting photograph such a strong image to me. It's a memorable image now, but just imagine how much more meaning this image will have for Leanne and John 20 years from now in their walk together.

For this kind of image, I used a 60mm micro (macro) f/2.8 lens to get great detail in the rings with a shallow depth of field to blur out everything else.

Image Hosted by

Although I will occasionally step in to do some light directing, I generally don't like to do a lot of hard posing. It's easy for people to start looking unnatural when you do, so I like to simply suggest for people to do something that's second nature to them. In this case, I think I just asked Leanne and John to walk over and have a seat on the brick ledge by the water and just talk to each other for a little bit. And then I just waited for that moment to happen between them.

Here I used a 70-200mm f/2.8 VR (Vibration Reduction) lens. This is probably my favorite lens because it allows me to capture those real images without having to get too close. Plus, I love the soft backgrounds with the shallow depth of field you can get with this lens.

Image Hosted by

Leanne wanted a few close-ups during the session and with the amazing fall colors all around us in this beautiful park near downtown and the sun already just below the tree line to the left of Leanne & John creating perfect light, this was a pretty easy one. As I mentioned, sometimes I will step in and direct just enough to get the image I'm looking for. In this case, they may not normally stand like this, but it's still simple and believable. I just asked Leanne to lean into John and try not to smile. BTW, sometimes asking people not to smile is the best way to get them to smile naturally!

Again, I used the 70-200mm for this close-up so I could photograph it from a distance without Leanne and John feeling like a camera was in their face. I opened the lens all the way to f/2.8 to get the soft background again, so it it was important to have the two of them pretty much on the same plane with such a shallow depth of field or else one of them would've been a tad out of focus. The result:

Image Hosted by

Well, if you're still reading this, I'm impressed. Kudos to you for your perseverance, and hopefully it was mildly insightful regarding how I like to approach photography. At the very least, hopefully you've decided I'm not the voyeur freak you might have been thinking after that first sentence.

7 comments: said...

Hi Matt - This is a post. I love how you shared your thought process in various shot/scenarios. It's always nice to see how hero photographers go about their business...and you are certainly one of mine....Tina captured wonderful shot of you and the couple are so so beautiful.

Matt Nicolosi said...

Thanks for the kind words, Cecile. Glad this was helpful, and look for more posts like this in the future.

Take care!

Snapshot said...

Thanks for sharing. That's my favorite lens as well. I like being able to sneak in on a moment and not set it up!
Don't you love a job where jeans and comfortable shoes are necessary!!!!
Your work inspires me. Still gonna purchase those templates after Christmas!!!
Thanks for always being willing to share your muse!

Lisa said...

Lovely images Matt!
This is a great post, thanks for sharing!

Maggie McDonald said...

Thanks for such a wealth of information. You are extremely talented and generous. I think a great photographer is constantly wanting to improve and I see that in you. Thank you for helping ME improve.

Shutters Photography said...

Thanks for sharing, Matt! Your work is such an inspiration...

ashlee8 said...

matt-thanks again for sharing. it was very insightful. it was a perfect post for me to stumble across after just shooting my first engagement session and feeling a little less than adequate. your tips were very helpful, i enjoyed seeing your different angles and what lens and aperture you shot with. maybe with your help the next session will be smooth sailing!