Friday, May 07, 2010

What Was I Thinking?

The shoot is over. You're back home and, having transferred your images from your cards to your computer, you sit back to look through the results of your work.

As you peruse your photos, consciously or semi-consciously performing some mental editing, you start to notice that more than a few are not going to make the cut. Nothing particularly abnormal about that. There's a myriad of reasons why you might "86" many photos. Some of those reasons aren't necessarily because you, the photographer, were asleep at the wheel.

But some of them are!

Some of my first-cut rejects, the ones that bug me most, are the shots where the images suck are headed for the cyber round file because, apparently, I wasn't paying enough attention. Leastwise, enough attention--with the requisite amount of mental focus--necessary to capture a decently framed snap.

"What was I thinking?" I often ask myself as I smack the palm of my hand against my forehead and stare at an otherwise good photo, sometimes a potentially great photo, messed up by the unattractive and unacceptable dismemberment of a body part at the edge of the frame.

That's not to say framing with various amputations performed is always the reason for rejecting a photo. But, often enough, some amputations (perhaps many) are cause for rejection.

So why does this happen?

Well, I have a theory or two. (You probably already knew I would, right?)

First off, and probably most importantly when it comes to pretty girl shooting, it has much to do with the beautiful models in our viewfinders. (This is, after all, a blog about photographing beautiful women, right? For the most part, that is.)

Yep. It's the model's fault.

If she wasn't so damned hot and sexy and maybe even naked, our eyes wouldn't be automatically drawn to certain parts of her anatomy--the majority of pretty girl shooters being guys and all--with those parts tending to exist well within the perimeters of our frames.

When our eyes and minds are captivated by a beautiful face, bountiful breasts, or other curvaceous commodities our models possess, the perimeters of our frames tend to get less attention from us. And *that's* how those otherwise good snaps often get screwed up!

BTW, for you female photographers who might not be smitten by the eye-candy in your viewfinder, there's still a good chance, for whatever reasons, you're focused more on the body of the frame (as opposed to the body "in" the frame) rather than the frame's edges or perimeter. Just sayin.


Here's what I've done in an attempt to reduce the numbers of images I reject because I wasn't paying enough attention. Well, not paying enough attention to everything in my viewfinder rather than mostly the eye-candy parts. I've trained my eye, the eye pressed to the viewfinder, to do a quick, almost robotic, scan of the perimeter of the frame first.

It doesn't matter where you start your frame-edge scan or where you end up. (For some reason, my eye likes to start in the lower right corner of the frame and move it's way around the frame's perimeter, counter-clockwise.) After I've done that, and it only takes a very brief amount of time to do it, my eye returns to the more central body of the frame... and I snap the shutter. I go through this scanning process fairly quickly and I might be mouthing a direction or two while doing so.

I'll admit it took a bit of time to train my eye to do this in an automatic kind of way. And it certainly hasn't guaranteed that I never mess up my framing because of lack of attention. But it has reduced the incidence rate of village idiot screw-ups I make while shooting.

The pretty girl at the top is Faith. Snapped it at a 2nd floor loft location in down-town Los Angeles a few years ago. Three lights employed: 5' Photoflex Octodome for my main and a couple of kickers, either side, from behind. I also used a white reflector to bounce in a bit of fill. Here's another of Faith, this time in color and featuring Faith dressed less formally.

Almost forgot to mention-- I started a Facebook Pretty Girl Shooter page. Just created it yesterday. If you're a Facebooker, please stop by and "Like" it! Me like you back long, long time. Facebook: Pretty Girl Shooter.


Todd said...

That happens to me way more times than I'd like (cutting off body parts).

If it a shot that I otherwise absolutely want, there's a few ways I'll try to salvage it:

1. Cropping it differently (Maybe square or 16x9 as opposed to the standard frame size)

2. Expanding the canvas in Photoshop, fill in/expand the background, and pasting in the missing body part from another image.

Do you think it's easier to frame it a little wider than usual when you take the shot and then crop it in post?

jimmyd said...


My instinct, probly yours too, is to frame it as close to the finished crop as I think the shot should be. That, of course, opens up opportunities for unwanted amputations and other things that limit what you can do, cropping-wise, in post. I've tried to teach myself, and to remind myself, to frame looser/wider, whatever you want to call it. That way, I can crop as I want in post.

Also, since a lot of my work gets processed by others, especially for different kinds of artwork, shooting looser allows room for text and so forth to be more4 easily and efficiently added later. That's even more important when it's a background the graphics people would like to retain anbd it's a BG that would be difficult if not impossible to expand for the addition of text and other stuff.

Fizmoo said...


I DO agree with you and girls know when the photographer is not paying enough attention to the shoot.