A problem I have been trying to overcome...now coming to head emotionally

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by tammy_mckindle, Jun 19, 2013.

  1. Ok, so I graduated with a degree in photography after 5 years and wanted to get dug into wedding photography. I have assisted and I have a wedding of my own in september, I accumulated 2 cameras, and some expensive L lenses and studio kit. I am great getting the photos but I have an awful issue of the post processing...I cannot define a style with consistency or decide that the photo is finalised. Has anybody else come across this? After all these years I am at my wits end...I feel like I am a failure, I don't know what to do...it's like my confidence is shattered for some reason...I've been in tears for the past 2 weeks as It's getting to me now.
    I don't know whats wrong with me, I put everything into photography, it's almost as i am scared of something but at the same time I can't finish a photo that I can say I am happy with that...im lost.

    Sorry if I don't make sense...I am after some help please.
  2. Hi Tammy, hope you are well. Five years are not wasted, you know how to put it together, relax and post some of your work, that has your style . Hope to add a helpful comment Regads Miken
  3. Tammy, "creative distress" is often a sign of change. It can actually be quite solitary and even depressing for a short time.
    You have worked hard to master the fundamentals of photography, arrived at a place where you are familiar with your tools and making photographs.
    The next ongoing phase is refining your personal voice. Without definition, it can effect both your shooting style, and in the case of digital photography, the post processing style that can serve to enhance that personal approach, voice, or style (or whatever you want to call it).
    If you step out of the "Creativity in the service of commerce" arena, and look at the art photographers, one thing is clear ... they start with an intent ... often a written intent ... behind what they create.
    So, the question is, what is it that you want to say when it comes to this work? This requires thought and the courage to act on that thinking ... making a decision is always difficult because it means you eliminate all the other possibilities. However, decisions have to be made to make any progress. There are a bewildering array of solutions to every opportunity these days, and not making decisions simply freezes progress, or ends up in a disarrayed mess.
    I think that once you better define what you want to say, how to say it will become clearer. Then you can go about mastering the post processing techniques necessary to that end ... rather than all of them, which would be a monumental task.
    The task then becomes simplification and consistency ... just enough to make your photographic philosophy or statement clear, and no more than that. With consistency, comes deeper understanding of the shooting and processing techniques, and ever improving results.
    If this doesn't satisfy, then rethink and try again. That is simply the creative process regardless of what form the creativity takes.
  4. "Has anybody else come across this? After all these years I am at my wits end...I feel like I am a failure, ....... It's getting to me now."
    I've had this experience as an amateur, and the most helpful wisdom I received was from a fellow P.net member in private communication where he said, paraphrasing and greatly condensed: "Making it" is an elusive moving target and feeling frustrated is part of the process of getting there.

    Of course there's no deadline as an amateur for "making it", and I would argue that there isn't one for professionals either, nor is there a measure for it since the only ones being so hard on us is ourselves.
  5. Nice post Tammy

    You are not alone here. I think every photographer needs to find their way. Well it's now my 25th year at this. However we gear our work to other projects besides weddings. It really doesn't matter what field of photography you enter. Most of my published work has been in nature and product designs, not weddings, even though I average about 40 weddings a year. The studio shoots over 100 a year. This year I'm slowing down and we hired another photographer to help out. A real pro that lost his studio. Times are hard in this wedding biz.

    For a few years I think you will feel the way you do and it's nothing to worry about. Well it took me a few years, however I didn't and still don't have that natural RAW talent that some lucky folks have here. You must have a lot of talent. Getting into a photography arts college is nothing short of being extreemly talented. With us folks that need to work at photography this - Tammy's PO post - "It's like my confidence is shattered," that you wrote about is nothing but yourself and us working for perfection. Perfection in photography along with most of the arts, this never ending curve trying to achieve perfection doesn't have a limit. It's that simple! It's limitless! Think about that...

    Even some sports such as golf, baseball, other sports, there is no limit to perfection and breaking new records, that will again be broken later on. Yes Tiger Woods is fantastic, however a few weeks ago he really screwed up! He shot a 45 for 9 holes. Made me feel great! : - ))) I can shoot a 45! hehe One of the few sports that has a limit to perfection is bowling, a perfect score of 300.

    Give yourself lots of time and much more credit. You have a degree. That alone is talent.

    After 25 years doing photography, published several times, I'm often humbled seeing the work of great artists on this photo.net forum. I spend about 5 hours a week just viewing recently published works of people on this wonderful site.

    Take your time and have fun. Forget about your past and present work and perhaps the future. Just enjoy having fun. It's a never ending learning curve. I'm always looking at the future. Now photographers need to learn video because cameras now have video! Ugg I dread this.

    The truth - We all have heard about the magazine "National Geographic." I am lucky enough to have met 2 of the photographers. One of them is a friend. Here's the truth about this magazine. I won't state the name of the person, however he went on a photo shoot for this magazine and took around 3000 images. Guess how many were published? 2500, 2000, 1500, 1000, 500, 100, 50, 25, or 5.

    If you said 5 well you win! Yippie! 3000 shots and only 5 were published. These guys are the best of the best. If you shoot some weddings and find a few fantastic shots well you win.

    I'll end here. I think I've made my point.
  6. For now, until you get more settled in what you're doing, I would establish a more generic process for your post work, and
    not worry so much about "style" right now. You're not going to force a style, it will come with time and photographic
    maturity. Or, get someone to help you, or do it with you, and grow into it that way. Relax, and move foward with a more
    simplified effective procedure to get the job completed. The rest will come in time.
  7. In 30 + years of doing photography - I've never given more than 20 minutes of thought to my "Style". Instead I've let it develop over time.
    I'm now busier than ever with weddings, seniors, families, etc... and get repeat customers - who make their appointments around my schedule - not the other way around... So I guess I'm doing something right.
    One of the temptations I've avoided is the "me too" look of a lot of today's images. Many photographers think that you have to process an image to death in order to get it "right". Looking at website of my competitors - many have images that all have the same filters / actions applied to every image - then they put one straight out of camera on their site and it sticks out like a sore thumb.
    What I tell clients is that they will get a quality setting - not overly processed / edited images, not all images will get the same or similar effects, because honestly, not all images look good with the same processing.
    Hang in there - keep at it - and learn to walk away from an image when it is "done enough"
  8. What I tell young people who are starting out is to try to faithfully recreate the scene. If it was a nice scene, and you produced a nice reproduction of it then you are learning.
    I actually don't know anyone in our region who has a degree in photography. Its not like law or medicine. To be really good you have to be at least aesthetically artistic. And thats not a learned thing. I am the third generation of photographers in our family. My grandfather was also a landscape painter and of course thats when he learned all about light and perspective.
    So I recommend that you take some art classes. It will help you enormously. You will learn just how easy photography is compared to painting the same scene with a brush.
  9. Tammy, it's a brave topic to start, and a very good topic. While I am absolutely no professional, nor a wedding photographer, I think the obstacle you run into is something that can happen to anyone who dives passionately into photography - obviously, if it's your bread and butter, the obstacle hits a bit harder.
    The fact that it hits you so hard, is (to me) a sign of passion and will - and that's excellent news. It shows you're not complacent - and that's even better. So, see these doubts not as a block, but as a commitment. You're willing to make it, and that's already a lot better than many on these planet.
    It sound slike you're looking for your touch in your photos, making your photos say what you want to say ('voice' is a better word than 'style', I think - both may change over time, but one is more suspect to fashion). This isn't easy and it's not going to happen tomorrow. It's part aging, maturing, getting more and more experienced. Nobody is artistically developed from day one, it does simply take time, practise, experimenting and soul searching. It's also part knowing what you want to say - do not force a style upon yourself, but follow instinct. Forget about the fashionable approaches and styles, but look at photos you adore yourself - why do you adore them, what makes them work for you? How would you approach it, portray it? Work from within, and from what you feel.
    What I can imagine is that the commercial side adds a lot of pressure, plus expressing yourself fully could also be commercially less viable (take a look at whatever I shoot, and you get that point ;-). And for that, what David wrote makes sense. Get the customer what he wants, make sure it's good competent work you're willing to call yours, but don't push yourself into thinking they should all be masterworks. Customers will come back if it's good work, and if you're a pleasant, punctual person to work with who delivers as promised.
    And on the side, define yourself a photographic project on something you care about, where you can pour out your soul into photos that have no commercial pressure, but where you can search your voice. A documentary, an art series, or maybe just long strolls outdoors with some wildlife photograhy - but photography where you have no liberty and time to experiment and try. I believe whatever you learn from that will cross over into your commercial work, and more important, it should bring back what you miss today - because the results will come, and it will be closer to your heart. Get a few good photos that resonate deeply with yourself, and the confidence will come back.
    Well, that's just a few amateur's thoughts, but one that hit the same creative roadblock every now and then. In my own opinion, hitting the roadblocks has helped me forward a great deal as it has forced me to define what I really want and what I really like in photography.
  10. Hi Tammy
    What you describe is not at all uncommon with artists. My solution to this sort of angst with my photography is to shoot as if there is no post production. I might spend 4-5 hours setting up for a 10 minute shoot to achieve a single photo. My aim is to have a shot that requires little to no PP.
    There is nothing wrong with you, you have just learned too much. Having learned all the the tips and tricks you feel obliged to use them on every photo.
    You have a wedding coming up, I suggest that you go to the venue and spend time learning where to shoot, take pictures, stay long enough to learn lighting around the area. Take a tripod and take self portraits with different poses. Make notes as to where the good vantage points are and note the time they have the light you want. Treat each photo as if there is no such thing as post production. When it comes to the PP do as little as it takes.
    Post production is an inverse activity, yes you can do hundreds of PP tricks with software. If you make three small changes then you are tweeking the photo, making more than five changes is salvage work on a photo that probably should have been abandoned.
    Style will come to you in time. You will find that more of your work will be using the same sort of shots and pretty much the same style of post production. Have fun, take good photos and use only the post required.
  11. Tammy, thanks for posting this question. It's brought a lot of interesting and relevant replies that I'm sure are going to be a help to many besides yourself. I really can't add much that hasn't already been said, but I would emphasize what Dave Wilson said. If I understand your problem correctly, your having problems producing finished images with a consistent "look". If so, my advice would be to develop a more defined work flow. Literally make a detailed step by step list of operations that you do to your images in that specific order. Make several, and evaluate a set of images that has been put through each work flow to find out which best fits your tastes. Then you'll have a starting point. Sure it's boring and repetitive, but you will get the images done leaving you with time to explore how to improve your processing without the stress your currently experiencing.
  12. I agree with Wouter Willemse: this was a brave topic to start. Good for you for daring to ask it.
    You seem to be having two problems that in my view are completely distinct: first, finding your personal style; and second, knowing when you're done post-processing a photo.

    Finding a personal style

    This is the easier problem. You solve it by not worrying about it. I think David Haas's comment is excellent. He wrote:
    "In 30 + years of doing photography - I've never given more than 20 minutes of thought to my 'Style'. Instead I've let it develop over time."​
    Simply don't worry about it. The best styles are not self-conscious gimmicks, they're a reflection of how you like to work, what you love to photograph, essentially, who you are. A handful of people develop a readily identifiable style: think Avedon, Diane Arbus, or, outside of photography, Salvador Dali. But most photographers participate largely in the style of their times, and that goes for the great geniuses, as well. Be yourself, be as good as you can be, and let style worry about itself. Artists who become self-conscious about their style start imitating themselves and, while that's sometimes a good commercial move (give the public more of what it wants), it's death to art.

    When are you done post-processing a photo?

    There isn't an answer to this question, really, but I can offer some hints.
    First, unless your goal is to become a computer graphics specialist or Photoshop guru, I would urge you to approach post-processing as a necessary evil, and not really as part of the creative process. Cartier-Bresson is famous for not being interested in the process of making his prints; today, he'd probably send his raw files to a service for processing. How could he do that? He got everything that mattered to him exactly the way he wanted at the time of capture. That's my goal, my ideal, my dream.
    I don't achieve my goal very often, for a couple of reasons. I'm not good enough to nail the shot every time. Or, sometimes it's not quite a matter of me and my theoretical abilities, but me and the limitations imposed by the circumstances of the shoot. Weddings force us all to take shortcuts. Then there's the fact that shooting raw (which you should do) more or less imposes at least some small amount of work in post on us. And of course, sometimes, you know when you're shooting that you're going to need to do work in post—say, to eliminate a blemish, or clone out a garbage can, etc.
    Anyway, my first suggestion is: If you want to be a photographer rather than a photo-processing expert, then do everything you can to get it right in the camera.

    Who are you trying to please?

    But there's another large can of worms here, and it gets opened when we ask ourselves the twin questions: (a) who are we trying to please? and (b) what will it take to make them happy?
    Most of us, of course, do our own post-processing, and it's simply a fact that we have way, way too many options. We can use Photoshop or Acorn, Lightroom or Aperture or Capture One or DxO Optics Pro, Photo Ninja or RPP. Each of these programs offers a slightly different interpretation of the raw data. I can do things in each one of these apps that I can't do in the others. Then there's the fact that they keep getting better. I'm going back now and reprocessingfive year old photos because Aperture 3 or Lightroom 5 or Photo Ninja find things in those raw files that I'd never seen before.
    So, with all those options, how do we know when to stop?
    Years ago, my brother-in-law, who was a very, very successful businessman, gave me some advice that I was frankly appalled by at the time. He said, Do the job just well enough to keep the client satisfied. I was appalled—but the thought stuck with me. And I've come to see that he's right, at least about business. If you are shooting for a client, you stop when it's good enough to make the client happy. You might go a wee bit beyond that and try to make them very happy, but beyond that, you're wasting your time and that means you're losing money. The proof of this is that many clients don't want perfection because it wastes their time and money. Doing a commercial portrait of an executive chef yesterday, I took two light stands, two umbrellas, and four lights. I used only one because a more elaborate set-up would have been a serious problem for the client. They just wanted a decent shot—not a work of art.
    So for your clients, you do the very best you can do—given the circumstances and their needs. And then you stop. This is tough especially at first, because most of us have at least a spark of the artist in us and artists don't think this way. That's why it's so important to think of yourself as a craftsman first—and let the art (like the style) take care of itself. If you can't make peace with that compromise, you may go on and become a great photographer, but you will have a very hard time making money.

    Enter Paul Valery

    And what if you're not shooting for a client? What if you're trying to make real art and you're shooting for yourself? That's where a famous quote from the French poet Paul Valery comes in: Un poème n'est jamais fini, seulement abandonné. A poem is never finished, only abandoned. Ditto for your photos. You will find almost always that there's a very steep curve of diminishing returns in post processing. You get the photo knocked into shape pretty well in five minutes, then you spend fifteen minutes making it slightly better, then you might spend another hour making changes almost nobody will notice. At some point, you'll either run out of ideas, or, very often, realize you have become obsessive and gone too far. That's when you throw it all away. Restore the image to its original state, then step away from the computer for a day, or at least, make a virtual copy (another "version" in Aperture) and start from scratch.
    But the point I really want to emphasize is: We've all been there and felt this way and it's not our faults. We have too many options readily available. You have to learn to be fairly ruthless about not taking advantage of all of them all the time.
    Good luck.
  13. Wow some strong reading from you guys here! I have ready what you all have to say an have taken it in, you are right weddings are my bread and butter (well intending to be anyway). My true passion is advertising and editorial but it isn't a straight path thus why I have 2 portfolios.

    I worry about post production, I really don't doing to much to a photo. I'm always asking what percentage should I have of Black and White etc. I definitely have a creative roadblock at the moment Wouter lol! Being creative is what makes me the person I am, without it I'm like a book without words.

    You guys are are so helpful, it wont be forgotten.
  14. Tammy,
    My earlier reply was kind of theoretical. Let me offer a practical comment or two.
    You said, "I worry about post production, I really don't [like?] doing too much to a photo. I'm always asking what percentage should I have of Black and White etc."
    Ideally, the answer to these questions comes from the client. I always ask beforehand whether the client likes black and white, as well as "creatively processed" photos. I don't ask if they want those treatments, I just ask if they like. Sometimes they don't know and that's fine. But if they respond, "Oh yes I love black and white!" then I'll be sure to include more black and white treatments in my initial gallery for the bride. If they say, "No we hate black and white" I'll still include a couple black and white treatments but not many. Know your client. This goes back to what I said about knowing who you're trying to please and know what will make them happy.
    You should know of course which photos make for good black and white treatment and which don't. I think I've seen a few photographers who specialize in digital black and white. I wish I could do that. But I generally do more black and white for myself than for my clients. If the bride's wearing red satin shoes, she wants to see the red.
    In the initial gallery that I show to clients I try my best not to show heavily processed images. There's no point in removing that odd blemish on the groom's cheek in 400 photos, most of which aren't really going anywhere. For the initial gallery my aim is to make the photos look good in a web page and nothing more. When they order a print, I process with a little more care. And if they order a 20" x 30" canvas wrap, I process with more care than I would give a 4" x 6" print. Be aware of your output medium and process accordingly.

    Finally — and forgive me, this is getting a bit theoretical again — you talked about yourself as an artist. That's great. I have a master's degree in creative writing (poetry), so I can wear my beret and eat my brie with the best of them. I'm an artist, you're an artist, we're all artists. Good for us! Now, the question is, do you want to make money with your cameras? The answer does not have to be yes! It's a very respectable thing to be content to shoot for yourself, for gallery shows, etc. But if you do want or need to make money at this, then you'll have to become a business woman as well. And in my opinion, you'll make things easier on yourself if you stop thinking of yourself as an artist and think of yourself as a craftsman. You may love taking photos but the person who hires you doesn't care about that, just as they don't care if the caterer likes cooking or waiting on people, just as they don't care if the musicians are really having a good time.
  15. William you certainly do say it how it is, and I respect that, your are right where weddings are concerned it's a craft...I have to get that into my head! I feel silly for not asking how many Black and White photos the customer would like, When I meet up with them next I will make sure to ask what hey are expecting. I run everything through Lightroom, flag all the photos then go back to edit, but this is where I get stumped and lost in the abyss! I will read over again later when I get back from work, it's alot to take in all a once.
    thanks guys x
  16. Don't feel silly, Tammy! You asked excellent questions and in fact this is the best thread here for a while. And these practical questions are ones we all had when we started. Actually I still have questions like this all the time.
    That's why photo.net is so helpful — and also why I get so much from spending time every month with other photographers. I was at a seminar recently given by one of the top wedding photographers in the world (winner of the WPPI "best photographer" award and many others). He was talking about how he's constantly learning new stuff from other photographers. Learning isn't just for newbies: it's for everybody who cares about what they're doing.
  17. Plus 1 to all that Will P has written.
    I started 30 some years ago shooting B/W film. We didn't get to see what we had shot until we developed the film, printed the contact sheet and picked out the best through a loupe.
    Then we had minimal editing techinques available - dodging, burning, contrast, exposure and sepia tinting... A little bit of focus fix and sharpening... That was the limit of what we did. 90% of it was getting it right in camera and getting the first time.
    As for learning - absolutely! You never know everything about anything. There is always something to learn - either from reading, conversations or just watching. I constantly watch other photographers - seeing how they pose a subject, light a situation, etc...
    Keep at it and good luck!
  18. I think everyone following the forum posts here should read this thread. Often the posts are irrelevant and just some people justifying what they themselves use. But not this one.
    Here we have so many pearls of wisdom, its great. I think the comments from a few of us who earned a living in the film era, were the best. Shoot as if you can do no PP. Sure, set up your camera with max image size, add a bit of warming and shoot in A mode for a while. Get it so that your images are fine straight out of the camera. If you do this you will take fewer, higher quality shots. Spend more of your time shooting and less time in front of the computer.
  19. Let me expand on my initial post:
    In 30 + years of doing photography - I've never given more than 20 minutes of thought to my "Style". Instead I've let it develop over time.​
    Fair enough ... but that was then and this is now. 30 years ago it was a film world, and just the technical aspects of the craft was beyond most people. Photographers with long term, established businesses don't seem to grasp how hard it is to initially stand out in the tsunami of ever more ambitious people with ever more capable tools ... that want to, or have entered this field in the past few years.
    To wait and see what may develop in such a ferocious environment, even with hard work, leaves a lot to chance and luck ... not to mention the very ability to even recognize it when it happens. Taking command of your destiny by actually thinking about what "voice", what your creative contribution may be, how you as a person will define yourself as a photographer ... are basic attributes of every successful product, service and creative entity there is today.
    Old think, old methods, don't cut it these days ... tomorrow's success is made by those willing to define it on their own terms, with their own voice, with their own thinking ... and the more at the front of your career than the end you are, the more this is true.
    - Marc
    PS, when the OP mentions the possibility of eventually going commercial ... then all this will be even more true. So she could consider this endeavor a dress rehearsal for when she enters that competitive field.
  20. Tammy, I have been doing this for sixty years and I'm still not there. It is a journey, not a destination -- a process, not a product. Enjoy the trip.
  21. Marc Williams writes:
    Fair enough ... but that was then and this is now. ...
    To wait and see what may develop in such a ferocious environment, even with hard work, leaves a lot to chance and luck ... not to mention the very ability to even recognize it when it happens. Taking command of your destiny by actually thinking about what "voice", what your creative contribution may be, how you as a person will define yourself as a photographer ... are basic attributes of every successful product, service and creative entity there is today....
    Old think, old methods, don't cut it these days ... tomorrow's success is made by those willing to define it on their own terms, with their own voice, with their own thinking ... and the more at the front of your career than the end you are, the more this is true.​
    I've been shooting as long as most folks here but I am not a life-long pro. I only started getting into the business a little more than five years ago, in the digital world. Trust me, I know very well how tough it is to break into the market now. I'm also painfully aware that I'm handicapped by my age and my reactionary habits of mind. :)
    But I don't think that invalidates anything I've said or that has been said by the more experienced old-timers. Some of the advice I'm giving I've heard — recently — from young pros on top of the world like Hiram Trillo and Roberto Valenzuela, as well as eminences grises like Tony Corbell.
    There's absolutely nothing with young photographers or, hell, old photographers, asking themselves what sort of photographers they want to become, or wondering how to make their work distinctive. That's not only natural, it's inevitable.
    All I was saying is, you can't calculate your way to a style. There are no angles to play here, at least not if you want long-term success. God knows, we all need to be computer experts these days. But in photography, style isn't something you achieve on the computer, in Photoshop or Color Efex Pro. Photography is what we do with cameras, and style in photography must be — almost by definition — achieved in the handling of the camera by a human being with a heart and a mind and a really good pair of eyes. Style arises naturally from what the photographer sees that other people don't see, in how the photographer handles light distinctively, in how the photographer poses subjects or sets up shots.
    And none of us can achieve a distinctive vision because we want one or think it would be a marketing advantage to have one.
  22. I am happy I have raised a thread that other people will benefit from.
    I know what you guys mean about film photography, I have my own Darkroom kit stashed away in the attic until I have bigger rooms to play with. Black and white film photography is divine! It made us think more about what we shot. We now have the ability to shoot unlimited photos which doesn't simplify the job in hand really, just means less room for errors.
    I think personally if I could define my own style and be happy with it I'd be more confident in myself and my work. With the creative block at the moment actually looking at the photo and saying "yep I am happy with that :) lets export..." I don't I keep moving onto the next saying to myself "no it isn't finished yet, I will come back later" which is bloody sending me crazy lol!

    The next client wants Vintage look photos, I have a filter for these but surely I can't put a vintage filter over all of the photos? unless thats what she wants (I will ask her).
  23. What you are saying Will, goes without saying ... however, I never said "calculate your way to style". I offered the advice to think about what you are doing as an alternative to thrashing about in a sea of options available today ... which is what Tammy seems to be wrestling with. I seriously doubt telling her don't worry, be happy will make that concern suddenly go away, nor in this environment will not thinking about what you are doing make something happen like magic.
    That advice wasn't given to validate my own personal approach to this work ... like many here, I formed my success in a different time, under different circumstances. Tammy was clear with what she is struggling with NOW ... and it boils down to indecision, the lack of ability to "define a style with consistency, or decide that a photo is finalized." My answer is a way that I know works for a lot of creative people since my "real" career was managing creative people ... thousands of them from all sorts of creative fields ... and I have been a visiting professor at a respected art college where my given mission was to specifically provide council to emerging talents about to enter their chosen field in order to improve the college's level of output to the sectors of commerce they would be serving. I still privately council "career creatives" on a one-to-one basis. Doing creative, and managing creatives are two very different tasks.
    A great part of creative progress of any kind, is evaluation of what you've done and using it to inform your future. That requires thinking about your work and making decisions. If you want to be creatively distinctive you have to take stock of what and who you are as an artist, and clarify that in your own mind before it'll become clear in the work. While this isn't a one time effort, but instead an evolutionary, on-going one, it is a critical one to embark on ... and the earlier the better.
    I also never said that "anyone can achieve a distinct vision because they want one, or think it would be a marketing advantage to have one". Those are your word's not mine. However, you DO have to want a distinctive vision to get started achieving one, and it is a proven fact that once formed it can and is used to achieve a market advantage ... it is called "branding", and the most successful creatives from all disciplines are brands, including wedding photography.
    To speak to Tammy's dilemma more directly, or anyone struggling with a similar issue in their development: crippling indecision is a direct result of creative fear. Fear that you aren't reaching your potential, a vague, unsettling feeling that you can't satisfy your own vision of what the work should be saying or what it should look and feel like ... as a reflection of your own emotional reactions and creative sense. Of course this frustration isn't uncommon, nor does it ever fully go away. Yet, it need not freeze one in suspended animation. The very thing that is creating the indecision, that vague "emotional reaction and creative sense" is the source of its solution ... you just need to identify it more clearly. Every creative person I know periodically does an "audit" of where they are with their body of work to determine what they do next. Sometimes they do it with a mentor, sometime alone. Based on that they then act ...
    BTW, this response has been informed by looking at Tammy's work and giving it some thought.
    Message to Tammy, if you want to engage in wedding photography, I think you will need to dedicate a website to it and perhaps portraits ... going after multiple types of photography on the same site dilutes all of them. Also consider making the images larger.
    You have an eye for composition and in each of the various types of photography you segment there are applicable techniques and approaches that can be migrated to wedding photography. Sometimes, a unique vision is right in front of our eyes, and realized by way of combining two or more less distinctive approaches into a fresh one. e-mail me and I'll specicially explain what I mean.
    At the very least, an interesting thread.
    - Marc
  24. The next client wants Vintage look photos, I have a filter for these but surely I can't put a vintage filter over all of the photos? unless thats what she wants (I will ask her).​
    Tammy, this is an example of how the public is homogenizing photography today. They think anything can be done, by any photographer which reduces all of us to "mechanics."
    My client for today e-mailed me last week with a request to mimic the T-Rex wedding party photo that recently went viral ... only using a dragon in place of the T-Rex. I diplomatically said ... no, that isn't my style, the style you hired me for in the first place.
    Just because I can do something, doesn't mean I should or will. If you leave your brand definition up to the public, it'll end up a dog's breakfast of eclectic mimicry ... with a resulting body of work that's even more confusing and inconsistent.
    This isn't to say do not listen to your immediate client, that ship may have sailed because it may have not been clear why they hired you. However, it is a clear directional cue as to the need to define that more clearly so you can counter off brand requests in a positive and pro-active manner. One that reassures the client's faith and confidence in you and the approach you use for wedding work, rather than putting them off because you resisted some odd request.
    - Marc
  25. I can distinctly recall back around 1989 a couple hiring me and then just before the wedding calling saying they didnt think
    they wanted too many poses, they wanted a "free" style "pj" wedding like they read and saw in a certain bridal magazine.
    Back then this was not that common and was just starting to catch on a bit here. In those days we shot about 20-25 rolls
    of 120 film depending on 12 or 15 shots. I told them that I could shoot more candid type shots and that I would need 10
    more rolls of film and processing to do so and quoted them a price. That ended that idea, they told me what I already do
    was just fine and not to worry. I could go on and on. They will always call you kooked out about the latest trend thing they
    saw. Where you go or not go with it is up to you.
  26. ...crippling indecision is a direct result of creative fear. Fear that you aren't reaching your potential, a vague, unsettling feeling that you can't satisfy your own vision of what the work should be saying or what it should look and feel like ... as a reflection of your own emotional reactions and creative sense. Of course this frustration isn't uncommon, nor does it ever fully go away. Yet, it need not freeze one in suspended animation. The very thing that is creating the indecision, that vague "emotional reaction and creative sense" is the source of its solution ... you just need to identify it more clearly.​
    That's about as good (and beautiful) a description as I ever read. Thanks Marc for a very insightful post, that's worth rereading a few times.
    With still the same caveat of being just an amateur... I hate getting stuck creatively. It makes me miss photography and the reflection is gives me. I feel I produce nonsens with no added value for nobody (only possibly my camera maker will benefit as it may cause me to buy stuff I do not need). The one thing that usually helps me is continuing to shoot. Keep trying. Keep piling up disappointing photos... and then suddenly, one day it all falls back together in place. But - a bit better than before, sharper, clearer.
    Clearing the roadblocks is a way up the mountain, not just a road ahead. It's growth. It's very much worth it, even if it's not always fun.
    Marc's post is also why I prefer the use of "voice" over style. Style, for many photographers I know (pro and non-pro) is a fixed selection of edits in Photoshop to reach a consistent look. High-key washed out portraits with lots of blur, harshly-sharpened low-key black and white... It's looks, it's fashion, and it passes. A voice is about personality, it's a lot bigger.
    Just a thought from another angle there....As a customer, I would be very hesitant to choose that for wedding photos - classic, solid photos of a competent creative pro are still a gold standard, in my view. Those photos are great today, and they will be tomorrow. Those pre-fab styles... in 5 years, you'll be apologising it was fashion at the time.
    There are notable cultural differences in what people expect in this respect, so I cannot judge for all markets (nor am I in any market in that sense), but I always feel there is plenty place for this more 'classic' approach. Good quality photos first and foremost, and a lot less focus on applying a specific look onto them.
    Learning isn't just for newbies: it's for everybody who cares about what they're doing.​
    This should be the header of the Beginner's Forum :) Love reading this phrase.
    Now, forgive me if i step on toes, but many in this thread state their years of experience, and even up to the point where a specific experience with film would make one more qualified (I have only ~10 years of experience and 99% digital, so there you go...). I value experience, but experience is a 2-edged sword.
    Experience for 50 years could be 50 years of doing the same thing. If you never wondered, never hit a creative block like Tammy dared to describe, then your experience might well be repeating what you've always done. If you do not creatively challenge yourself and push yourself into new territories, then your experience with swapping out rolls of film does not push the emotional content of photos much further. Experience is knowledge, but it's how you apply that knowledge that'll eventually make the difference.
    Realising I speak as a young dog, but William's phrase on continuous learning is a nice reminder that experience might be the most valuable skill you have -if your knowledge enables you better to try new things - or the most invalidating skill you have - if your knowledge is a recipe you repeat.
  27. Marc said:
    "Just because I can do something, doesn't mean I should or will. If you leave your brand definition up to the public, it'll end up a dog's breakfast of eclectic mimicry ... with a resulting body of work that's even more confusing and inconsistent.
    This isn't to say do not listen to your immediate client, that ship may have sailed because it may have not been clear why they hired you. However, it is a clear directional cue as to the need to define that more clearly so you can counter off brand requests in a positive and pro-active manner."
    This. 100%.
    And Tammy, how did you learn photography? I imagine you worked your way through the technical basics which enabled you to begin experimenting, perhaps recreating work you admire, and ultimately developing the beginnings of your own photographic style. Well, post-production is the same, and it can take as long to master as photography itself. I would therefore advise taking the same route - getting a handle on the basic tools and simply applying sound basic techniques until you eventually reach a point where you have identified the processes which best represent how you wish your product to be defined. And remember it is you who ultimately defines your brand, nobody else. Work with like-minded clients, those who "get" what you do.
  28. Marc - you hit the nail on the head! I have already come to the conclusion of 2 separate websites, I don't want to be seen of a 'jack of all trades'.

    Very inspiring words here :), and I am definitely taking the advice upon the 'current fashions statements I don't want my photos to die a short lived - knowing that helps me to take a step forward in my style, knowing which route I want to take and which ones I don't.
    Lindsay - I learnt the basics of photography in college and much more in-depth technically and theoretically in University...I don't have a problem with using any tools available to me, it's just finding the right balance in my post-production work that I am happy with.

    I'm going to go off an test on a previous wedding and have a gander. :)
  29. I think you misunderstood my message Tammy, my question was partly rhetorical. My point was that since you appear to be struggling to identify or decide upon a consistent personal style within your post-production then it makes sense to simply return to first principles and stick with a basic process until you find the conclusion you're seeking. I presume that would be the same kind of coherent path you followed through college and university whilst developing and progressing your photography skills.
  30. Ahh right I get you. Thanks you
  31. To add to some of the above. If you as an artist are not furthering your journey every time you make a series of shots,
    continuing to learn and improve, you're done. The timer has beeped, the little white stick in the turkey has popped out,
    and you have pooped out. Time to stop, regroup and set new goals for yourself. I don't see how a personal style or voice
    can be rushed. It's the same with a musician. It develops in time after many life experiences. But, having clear concise
    goals and points of yes or no is very important. In other words, look at 100 shots, decide which ones are closest to your
    personal voice or expression. That's the yes or no. Then take the yes and grow.
  32. Just make them look pretty and establish a consistent pattern for color, contrast, and styles. If it involves old style stuff like heavy blurring (blur-glow that makes it look dreamy and superfake) and selective color...don't do that if you want to stay modern.
  33. Okay this come out of digesting day 2 of Yervant's workshop running at Creative Live. He mentioned that he creates for his clients aka the bride as good a piece of art as he can for around 30 plus images out of the 100/120 that the client selects. What he does is guided by the consultancy meeting where he sorts out what the client likes and more importantly wants - the work done is broadly defined by that. It is not a blind all out attempt to create the biggest piece of artwork per image - from experience this can be time draining to try to irk out every last iota of possibilities after a point only you would spot the slight differences you'd probably lost the client some ways back. Of course if you showed before and afters they most probably could see what you mean.
    As for the look, there is a good and bad to this. If your look depends heavily of a post processed setting, you are at the mercy of being copied by countless others as soon as this becomes popular, or it could be so generic that any one using the same preset or program will achieve this. Yes I agree there is a strong need to do some degree of post processing just to differentiate one from the hoards of new wanna bees, who may will post process better than you (see that they have low job volume and need to post to cover fundamental flaws) the dangers are too much post makes an image become too unreal - badly done HDR images come mind and the toll on time; a pro's most valuable resource. I think you may need to take time to clear your head, you appear too close to the work now; step back take time to recreate yourself. Take inspiration at the other photographers who shoot in a manner similar to yourself and produce work that makes you go wow. Not all big names will produce work that makes you go wow, even then the same work say 2 years down the road may seem so mundane. It happens as your vision grows that which entrances you changes. Then come back to the work. Perhaps a good starting points for clients is the best each images you deliver could be with dramatic super unrealistic post production, what we call good photography with a light touch of the magical extra. (even this takes time - am editing a recent wedding in light of what Yervant said - it is shaping up to be one for the best job done category. I am applying what I say to you here there).
    Okay I do not know how you shoot or what you produce, is there any one you assisted who would spare you an hour or two to look thru what you have done. Being there at the same job, those would be the best people who would know what could have been gotten from the shot. Out of curiosity how long and how many jobs you have assisted on ?
  34. Tammy, I'm a little late to the thread and I'm not a pro, but I'm delighted you felt able to voice your anxiety.
    I was at a wedding a few weeks ago. The official photograper had an engagement shoot with the couple as well as working through what worked for the couple and what didn't. He then tailored the wedding shoot to what they were looking for. Now his 'style' isn't mine, but it would seen it's what they wanted. Therefore, focusing on client needs and expectations is the key issue.
    Beware of offering the client too many choices though. The Paradox of Choice - Why More Is Less (2004) by Barry Schwartz argues that reducing the number of choices for consumers reduces their anxiety when making a decision. Too many choices leads to the danger of 'paralysis by analysis'. If you over analyse, you end up doing nothing. I think this applies to professional photographers too!
    I echo the strategy of 'getting it right in camera' in terms of composition, lighting and exposure. I hate fiddling about in post processing trying to fix things I shouldn't have got wrong when I took the picture. My approach for post processing is as follows:
    Use a consistent workflow for RAW processing to give good solid TIFF files with appropriate noise, shadow and highlight treatment (e.g. for Nikon RAW files I use Capture NX, protect highlights and shadows, and apply noise reductionn and output 16 bit TIFF files)
    Then I simply straighten and crop if needed and apply any relevant filters (e.g. a bit of glamour glow or dynamic skin softening in Nik Efex). It's also a relatively trivial process to batch process all the colour TIFFS to produce a set of B&W images. I have my own saved presets in Nik Silver Efex for the toning and borders I like.
    Finally, feel free to critique my Wedding Gallery here on Pnet (I can take the criticism!!). I can guarantee you are a better photographer than me and more creative with your outputs. However, the people I took these images for were happy, and ultimately that's what matters.
  35. Tammy, you've received some excellent advice about the creative and technical aspects of photography here. I'm going to give a different perspective.
    I took an organizational change class this spring (yes, I'm old enough to be a grandfather and just getting around to finishing my degree). You are going through the same thing everyone goes through during a transition. Your frustration is normal and healthy. The way to overcome it is to create a change management plan. Decide where you want to go, then think of ways to get there. Perhaps devoting one hour per day to working on a specific photograph will help. Make time to take photos for yourself and develop your style. Get a copy of the book Managing Transitions by William Bridges. That was our text for the class and it is an excellent introduction to the subject.
    Most of all, don't be paralyzed by change. Concentrate on the small steps in the process and you will get through this and be a more confident person and photographer.
    Like many others here I've been at photography for a long time. I've done a lot of different types of photography over the years, but it wasn't until I was 57 years old that I decided what I want to be when I grow up. I'm in the midst of that career change right now; concentrating on fine art landscape photography, working on a business plan and, yes, refining my personal style and developing my brand. Geez, I hope that doesn't discourage you.
  36. It's been a long time since so many posted on this site! I guess we hit something to get deeply involved. Safe weekend folks.
  37. Virginia John Mybusiness -

    Thats just too cool to be a photographer for 60 years. I guess you are past the beginning stage! just fantastic. I took a peak at your images. Hope you've written a few books. I enjoyed looking.

Share This Page