Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Sometimes, Access is Everything

Ever look at celebrity photos or other stuff that gets lots of play and think, "That picture isn't all that good" or "I could shoot that just as well."

Me too.

Often enough, we're probably right. The photo isn't all that good or it might be that we could shoot it just as well. Other times, of course, it is a really good, stand-out, photo and you or I may or may not be able to equal or best it.

What is it that makes some photos and some photographers really stand out? In a word, access: They had access to the subject and the subject is often someone or some thing most shooters simply don't have access to.

In my ebook, Guerrilla Glamour, I briefly mentioned that, often enough, the single most important element to snapping a hot pic of a hot model is having a really hot model in front of your camera. (No surprise there.) I didn't put too much emphasis on that observation because I didn't want others thinking they won't ever snap great photos of models unless the model is exceptionally hot. That's not the case. I've seen terrific photos of models who are not, in most viewers' estimations, all that strikingly hot. (I'd like to think I've shot a few of those photos myself.) Still, the simple truth is the subject of a photo is often the most important element in terms of garnering attention and getting the most positive reactions from viewers.

Earlier today, a fellow photographer on Facebook brought forward the notion of access being so important when he mentioned (and linked-to) some great photos of Navy SEALs snapped by small-flash guru, Joe McNally.

McNally's photos are, as usual, impressive. But I couldn't help but think that if those photos were simply of some random and anonymous Marines or other members of our armed forces, they'd be considerably less memorable. More so since Navy SEALs were recently in the news after stamping "The End" on Osama bin Laden's ass. You see, Joe McNally was given special photographic access to Navy SEALs which, frankly, most photographers, myself included, will probably never experience.

The same holds true for photographers who have access to celebrities, other important and notable people, or incredbily hot models. How well would David LaChapelle's images of people like Madonna and others be remembered sans, as an example, Madonna in the photos? That's not to say LaChapelle's visions aren't cool or executed skillfully. But the fact remains: his images of Madonna, for instance, are even more memorable because, well, because Madonna was the subject of his vision.

As usual, I'm just sayin.

The pretty girl at the top is Charmane, lit and snapped with plenty of contrast to add some photo-aesthetic value to a model who really doesn't need all that much help being perceived as a hottie.


Bill Giles said...

Access is everything, not only to people, but to locations. The tricky part is figuring out what and where to shoot. Joe mentioned that he got invited to Hell Week on the strength of his Nat Geo articles. It's probably like genius, 2% inspiration and 98% perspiration.

Ashley Pomeroy said...

"Navy SEALs were recently in the news after stamping "The End" on Osama bin Laden's ass."

Was this before or after they shot him in the head? We should be told.