I’ve been shooting professionally since 1987, mostly corporate and fashion images. Before that time I was the creative director at a small advertising agency in Chicago.
Since that time I’ve shot many thousands of executives, professionals, actors, and models. I’ve also done personal portraits for people looking for something that stands out from the usual fare. Whichever kind of work I do, it’s important to me to do it really well. New challenges are always welcomed.
What Makes My Photography Different?
• Goal Oriented
• Creative Use of Style & Technique
• Visual Elegance
• Lyrical Camera Work
• Retouching Excellence
My work is goal oriented.
I suspect that most shooters try to create images that their clients need, but they don’t think in terms of specific goals. Because of my background in strategic advertising and commercial photographic work, my work is infused with goal-oriented thinking from beginning when I plan the shot to the end when I finish post-production.
Like most shooters, if I’m shooting a girl in a dress for an online catalog, I want the girl and the dress to look good. Of course. But for me, that’s not nearly enough. I want the dress to sell. When my photo sells more dresses for my client, I have earned my fee and I get rehired to shoot more dresses. When people say they like an image I created, I’m very pleased. But when they say that the image achieved major results, I’m elated!
If I’m shooting an executive portrait, I want my guy to look successful, confident, and upscale when the image is viewed by the people he does business with. I want it to reflect well on the company he’s working for. When I shoot a model, I’m thinking not just about pretty images, but about getting her better representation if she doesn’t yet have it, getting her more bookings from clients, creating a look that sets her apart from the others.
This goal-oriented approach applies to non-commercial work too. Suppose I’m doing a photo for a Instagram page or for a girl to give to her boyfriend. I talk to her to see what her real goal is, sometimes she’s not sure and needs guidance. Then I use my knowledge of creating images that work together with my expertise in how people respond to images to put together images that reach that goal. Maybe we want her Instagram page to look really interesting. Maybe she wants her boyfriend to think he’s got the most beautiful girl in the world. If you want your photos to achieve a certain effect, you’ve got to keep that in mind while you’re creating them.
Creative Use of Style & Technique
When I’m shooting, there are some things I always do, and there are some things I never do. This forms my base style. On this foundation I create many different types of looks. There are many different styles I like, and I’m creating new ones all the time.
Sometimes a new style comes in direct response to the needs and preferences of my clients. Maybe a client will mention a certain look she saw in a painting or photograph. I always encourage them to go for it and then arrange the look and post-production work to give them the desired look. When clients are not totally sure which styles they prefer, I present several choices of choose from.
When a photographer’s work all looks the same stylistically, called a ‘signature style’, that means two things. First his work cannot be appropriate for most clients, who would have to fit into his style, the Procrustean approach. It might be right for some, but it can’t possibly be right for most. Second it means that he and his clients have to keep taking the same picture over and over again. Does life have to be that boring?
I’m always on the prowl for new visual ideas to keep my work interesting and effective. Many pros in all fields get set in their ways and let their expertise deaden the freshness of their work. Instead it’s better to cultivate what Zen masters call “beginner mind” so you can approach your work in innovate ways. The fear of novelty and complexity always results in lethargy.
The word ‘elegance’ comes originally from a word meaning “to choose or elect.” It’s all about the details you choose to include or exclude from you work. It’s important to get those details right, whether they pertain to the person I’m shooting, wardrobe, make-up, grooming, background details, etc. Some of this is done during the shoot, some is done in post-production retouching. Elegance adds lustre and appeal to the images and it’s an important part of my work.
Lyrical Camera Work
Music has always been a big part of my life and musical thinking applies to my work. I always try to capture and present my images lyrically, as if they were singing something to the viewers. When it really clicks, images have a poetry that’s not present in typical photos and can achieve a magical mood.
Some people want to keep their images looking more “natural”, by which they mean less polished. I can respect that and will comply when needed. Most of us, however, prefer images that look clean and refined. Exactly how much is too much is a matter of opinion. That’s why we send proofs of retouched images before preparing final files. If a client thinks the image does not look natural enough, we can back off on the work we did and send a new proof. Only when the client is satisfied with the look do we prepare the final files.