Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Playing On Un-Equal Playing Fields

Client called me this afternoon and asked if I could come over for an unplanned shoot. "Sure," I said. "I can be there in an hour or so." The model, whom I've shot before, is very experienced and sexy as hell. She's also the live-in girlfriend of my client.

When I arrived, and after some explanation of what we were going to be doing, my client pulled out some British girlie mag and started thumbing through it and showing me various images of a few hot chicks in the magazine. "This is what she wants," he told me. "She wants the pics you take to look like these."

It took me all of two seconds to realize the style of the images he was showing me was mostly a result of Photoshop and not the photography.

"Dude. This isn't a shooting or lighting style. This is Photoshop. For one thing, it heavily uses a filter called Diffusion Glow."

He kept thumbing through the rag and kept pointing out different images that all made noticeable use of Diffusion Glow with the skin-tones heavily de-saturated." I explained about the color de-saturation as well. Just then, the video shooter joined us. (Some video was also going to be shot.) The vid-shooter looked at the pics in the magazine and concurred that they were heavily "shopped." Then, the model, his girlfriend, joined us.

"Jimmy says this is mostly Photoshop and not the photography," he explained.

I added: "Well, I can certainly do things when I'm shooting that will help your re-toucher out so he can make the photos have this look," I said. "I can slightly overexpose her skin tones and reduce the contrast a bit but the photos still aren't gong to come out of the camera looking like these."

They both seemed to accept my explanations but I had a nagging feeling that, somewhere along the line, I've lost some work (from this particular client) because he and his girlfriend couldn't tell the difference between processed images and the raw stuff coming out of my camera.

I then remembered a shoot, not too long ago, where I was shooting some other models and another photographer was shooting my client's girlfriend and we were both shooting at about the same time. My client was bragging to me about this other shooter's work and how great he is and how he's shot for Maxim and some other rags and blah blah blah. The other shooter, by the way, was shooting the girlfriend in front of a white seamless only using an on-camera Speedlite as his lighting source.

Anyway, I remembered that the other shooter had an assistant and I noticed the assistant was busy the whole time uploading the images to a laptop and, I also noticed, was applying some processing tools to all the images, probably some actions either in Lightroom or Photoshop (I don't recall which) before the pics were burnt onto a DVD and handed over. (Please note all his pics were shot against a white seamless with a Speedlite and, most likely, they were all shot with the exact same exposure settings which would allow an action to perform in exactly the same way on each of the images.)

I don't have a problem with any of that except for the fact that it was now apparent my completely out-of-the-camera untouched images were being compared to processed images and on that one I call "foul!" You see, I don't do any processing whatsoever on the images I shoot for this client. (That's my deal with him.) He has an in-house graphic designer/re-toucher who works on them: A graphics guy who, the client told me tonight, was now going to be shown the same British girlie rag I was shown and told to "shop" the images to look like those in the magazine.

Anyway, just thought I'd share this story for whatever value it might have to anyone or lesson it might contain.

The pretty girl at the top is not my client's girlfriend. (I haven't even uploaded those from the CF card yet.) She's Coco from last night's shoot. She was a blast to shoot with! Lots of animated expressions and posing. I love working with models who will sometimes drop all the sexy "glam" stuff and just get a little whacky in front of the camera. Here's another of Ms. Coco. This one's whacky and sexy!


Ed said...

Some clients assume that a photographer is a one-stop shop for everything they want in a still picture. And some are. Wedding photographers are expected to deliver consultations, portrait, event, food, architectural, and formal photography, all way down to special "effects" and album design and delivery. Some even present slide shows of the ceremony AT the reception.

Dept. store photographers can pop out a full set of portraits right on the spot. "Glamour Shots" and other mall makeover and glamour photo sellers can do it all, including the softfocus thing on-the-spot.

You and I don't work that way, of course. We don't do cookie-cutter photography (for the most part). But sometimes that's just what the client wants. Really, they should hire THAT guy. We should work for the OTHER client, not so much this one.

jimmyd said...

@Ed-- Agree with everything you said. This client, overall, gives me quite a bit of work so I think I'll hang in their with him. :-)

RandJ-Photo said...

Hey, I got a client who pays well for a few dozen 4X6 printed on the spot. I shoot small jpegs, fed straight through to the printer. All are shot with two lights, pretty straight on in front of a branding backdrop. Prints are given to their customers.

A couple of hours total including the setup and tear down. Check comes in the mail.

We show our good work but sometimes other stuff pays the bills.

jimmyd said...

@RandJ-- I got ya beat: Check is in my hand before I walk out the door. :-)