“You did what to make that image?” 10 elements to explain how an image was made.

We are overloaded and over saturated with images. With the explosion in popularity of point and shoot cameras and great price points on entry/mid and pro level dslr’s there are literally millions of images out there. Lets face it, We are in a point and shoot, upload in 10 seconds, share immediately world and I think this can make it difficult to get across to people what it actually takes to produce a really great image. It’s almost as if images and photography are treated like  big box store, dime-a–dozen “things” to be purchased for the cheapest possible price. When I look at something like artwork or more specifically a Photograph, I don’t just see the image. I like to think about where the image was made and what it took to travel there, What tools were used to make the image and the person behind the lens making the image. I try to think about that persons thought process as well as the final work that they have crafted.

There has to be a way to explain to someone who is not a photographer all of the elements that go into a succesful image. There are many different aspects to an image besides just the print. Great images don’t just happen, You don’t press the shutter button and an amazing composition pops out onto the computer screen. A successful image is a combination of many different elements and today’s Photographer must be a jack-of all-trades to craft and hone the final image.

1.Camera gear- Good quality digital camera gear is very expensive. Good work comes at a price and as you climb the ranks in the Photography world you must keep pace with the technology. You can make great images from just about any camera these days but I would rather put my faith in gear that is weather and dust sealed when I am out in the middle of nowhere making images.

2.Research-A Photographer always does his research which involves a lot of time in front of the computer. Locations, Sunrise/sunset times and the weather are just a few crucial variables that must be researched in advance to plan and execute an image.

3.Computer software- Some of the more important tools we use are our computers and the software we use on our images. Without them in the digital age we may as well go back to analog cameras and sending our film out to be processed. Fast, well built computers and image editing software are not cheap and there are several programs a photographer must use in his work every day.

4.Time- Here in Vermont I am surrounded by a number of great photo ops, However many places that I shoot at are at least an hour away and many more are two or more hours away. Time, gas and how remote a location is all factors into an image and how it was produced.

5. Hiking Great landscape and nature images are almost always in out-of-the-way places that require a lot of time and energy to hike too. Getting away from the roads and trails with lots of heavy gear on your back is part of our work and one of the parts I enjoy most. Being unique in your images requires this dedication to the craft and some wear and tear on your body.

6. Editing time- We try our best to get great captures in-camera but most images will always need a little tweaking. I think I have a pretty good workflow down but if you are doing a commercial, paid job or are at a location where you could possibly shoot hundreds of images, It will require some serious face time with the computer.

7. Mounting materials for your printed images-When we spend the time that we do in making and processing our images you really don’t want to go cheap when it comes to mounting and framing the image. Care should be taken in choosing good quality, archival mat’s, hinging tape, plastic sleeves, and archival inks and photo papers. We work hard and anything less would be a disservice to the work and to the buyer.

8.The artist’s eye – Photographers over time will develop their own particular style and way of shooting. They become known for this and a buyer is paying for your vision. Seeing something no one else has seen and making a great piece of art. Training your eye for Photography takes time and it does not happen overnight.

9. Willingness to fail- Sometimes you head out into the wilderness will all of the best intentions to do some great work and return with little or nothing in images to show for it. In nature and landscape work we love to go out in any kind of weather and are dependant on it but sometimes it does not always cooperate with us. I would rather go out and get nothing then be negative and not go at all when the weather is bad.

10. Involving yourself in the composition When I am out and I see something I want to shoot I try to step back for a few minutes and really take in the scene. It sounds weird but if you slow yourself  and take in all that a composition has to offer in every direction you will come away with more keepers. Care and attention to detail can be seen by a buyer in a well done image. Its more than just stepping out of your car, If you care about what you do it will show in your work.


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