Peregrine

Peregrine (adj):

  • Having no fixed home; changing location regularly as required for work or food.

Peregrine

Original Idea & Inspiration

This image is completely different to the one I originally set out to shoot. Unlike most of my other images, there was no sketch for me to refer to, nor did I make a mood board for inspiration.

Originally, I had the idea of shooting an image of this character who has been travelling for a long time down this long winding path. I wanted to suggest a sense of oddity by having them carry a suitcase to which they are handcuffed, that perhaps what lies in this suitcase is so valuable to them that they can’t let it go. In fact, the more that I thought about this reading, the more I felt that the image would mean something more significant, becoming a commentary on the way in we carry the weight of people, thoughts and feelings that we just can’t discard. I also wanted to hint at the character being some kind of outlaw, or someone who isn’t quite aligned with the rest of society; maybe someone who is a little bit more ‘freer’, yet are so constrained.

Suitcases are somewhat of a reoccurring theme in my work, particularly in my images Bearing The Burden and Detour, and I had both of these images in mind when I shot Peregrine. To be honest, I was a little worried, as I knew that all of these images would end up being similar, and although I suppose this is the case, I do think that Peregrine is more considered and shows a more thorough context.

Looking back for the inspiration of the image, I suppose I can trace the use of a suitcase back to the film The Two Faces Of January, which I watched only a few days ago, in which a character carries a suitcase of money around with him everywhere but I also like this idea of creating an image that has a bit more of a dynamic. Most of my images are quite still, so I thought that it would be great to shoot an image of someone running as it shows that the character has more of a purpose or a final destination in mind. My work is very much tied with the themes of uncertainty and journeys, which link to my overarching commentary about the duality of freedom and constraint within contemporary society.

The Set Up & Camera Settings:

Cinematography, as it always is, was very much an influence in this image, particularly in the way that I decided to place the camera:

10575950_1016540648358354_843019641_n

Normally, I shoot my images quite straight on so that the subject is parallel with the camera, but I decided to switch it up a little bit and placed the camera and tripod on a bench to raise the angle of the shot. Shooting from different angles is something I really want to experiment with, but as I’m still in the middle of a series, I don’t want to just start switching up the MO too much.

In terms of the set up for the image, I had the tripod and camera in place, and as I didn’t have an assistant, I decided to set the focusing of the camera to the center focus point, so that I knew where I’d have to be when the shutter clicked. I activated the shutter using my wireless remote set to timer mode, handcuffed myself to the suitcase and starting running back and forth to get the shot!

Here is a gif of other poses I had shot:

peregrineposesgif

Here were my camera settings:

Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 15.25.37

After I’d shot the poses and knew that there was at least one that I was happy with, I then expanded the frame, as I knew that I wanted the image to be quite a lot bigger to put a fair amount space between the character and the landscape. I almost always expand the frame by shooting the main image, then tilting and shooting two frames upwards (so that the images overlap one another) and then downwards. I Always do it in columns so that when it comes to photo merging them in photoshop so it is easier for me to organize the images which makes the process that little bit quicker.

I then swivel the camera left and right and do the same if I need to build a wider image. For this image, the frame expansion was quite challenging as it was quite windy, which meant that I ad to wait for the wind to die down before I shoot the images as I wanted to make sure that they matched up properly.

Postproduction:

As you can see by the editing video, my postproduction for this image consisted of only a three steps:

  1. Frame Expansion
  2. Compositing The Sky
  3. Colour Grading

Firstly, I make sure that I have expanded the frame using photo merge to make sure that I have an image that is not only a lot bigger than the standard singular image size, but doing this allows me to crop into my image without compromising the quality, which is super helpful in case I may need to print the image out in the future.

I then composited the sky. The reason I did this is really twofold. The first is because when I expanded the frame; I knew that I didn’t go high enough to get the full natural sky in the final image, so I shot a series of images of the sky at the location afterwards to photo merge so that I could add it in later. The second reason, very much the same reason I added the birds in post was because I’m interested in creating a ‘constructed’ image, especially one where it may not necessarily appear that it has been manipulated so much in photoshop. I know that some people may refer to this as more digital art than photography, but realistically, the advent of digital technology has changed the very definition of photography and I think that it’s future lies within the digital realm. Also, I like to think of photography as a way to reimagine reality and to create events and moments that did not happen. There is a nice little paradox with regards to photography and authenticity as I consider that all photographs are both documentarian and fictitious at the same time.

Lastly, when I was happy with the frame expansion and the sky, I then colour graded the image, which is actually just a process of messing around with selective colour layers, curves adjustment layers and adding solid colour adjustments to selected colour range areas. I really liked how underexposed the original image was, but I realized that keeping it like that would make the image too dark, and it would eliminate all of the details within the image.

Although, I really liked the natural colour palette, but I decided to add some of the same colour blue in the character’s shirt to the sky to visually tie the image together as well as changing the greens of image to a colour that’s more vivid, without being too saturated.

I also used some Adobe Kuler (an app which I highly recommend) swatches that I made ages ago to sample from. When I made them I just picked a bunch of random colours that I don’t often use, so that it is easier for me to remember to use them (otherwise I’d just completely forget!).

Here are some of the ones I used if you want them:

IMG_1620 IMG_1619 IMG_1612

Detail Shots:

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 18.51.23 Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 18.51.34 Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 18.51.43 Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 18.51.56

Adding the birds to the image was a completely spontaneous idea. I thought that, as there was so much vast sky, I wanted the viewer’s eye to be looking at something other but I didn’t actually think that they would so much to the overall image. The title, Peregrine, suggests a person who has no fixed home, someone left to wander around, looking for food and shelter, but it also the name of a bird. For me, the inclusion of the birds really ties the character to the idea of wandering, uncertainty and perhaps even escape, whether that’s from a certain someone or from or the escape from living a “normal” life. I also like to think that the birds suggest a certain sense of freedom for the character and by having them both travel in opposite directions gives the image more of a lonely and desolate undertone.

I hope you’ve enjoyed watching the editing process and reading about my image! If you have any questions, you can contact me by posting a comment below or contacting via the following social media sites!

Facebook

www.facebook.com/AaronSehmarPhotography

Twitter:

www.twitter.com/aaronsehmar

Instagram:

www.instagram.com/aaronsehmar

Email:

aaronsehmarphotography@gmail.com

Also, I would be very grateful if you could share my video or post! Any support is much appreciated!

Advertisements

The Pressure To Be Popular

It is no secret that in order to sell photographs and to make money as a photographer, you need an audience who are willing to buy your work and clients who are willing to pay you to shoot for them.

The problem is, there is no set formula for how you achieve this level of widespread attention and ‘popularity’ to get those paying clients or that print buying audience.

Sure, you may have 2,000 likes on your Facebook page or 500 followers on Flickr, Twitter and 500px, but they mean nothing if no one is going to pay you for your work. The next problem is that there is no way of knowing how many of your followers will really buy your work until you announce a print sale, that is assuming that all of the people who follow you/like your page actually see the print sale announcement. Furthermore, that is assuming that the people who follow your work have the money to buy your prints in the first place.

I would love to start selling limited edition prints of my work but I don’t want to start selling if no one wants to buy and I would love to teach workshops but I can’t if people don’t know me or my work. This is why I feel the pressure to be popular. Surely, if I have 50,000 followers then I should be able to easily sell an edition of 45 prints or find 10 people who are willing to pay me to teach them about photography?

Sadly, it just doesn’t work out like that.

I fully understand that it really doesn’t make a difference if your Facebook page has 50,000 likes or 500 but that doesn’t stop me checking how many people like my page and it certainly doesn’t stop me feeling down if I’ve uploaded an image and only a few people have seen it on the various social media sites I’ve uploaded it to.

So how exactly do you become ‘popular’?

A good friend once told me that the best thing to do was to share your work. Everywhere and anywhere. Whilst this is good advice, you can only put your images on social media and wait for people to discover you for so long, You could find other photographers who create work within the same genre of you (which is a good way to see what others are doing and it will give you an insight into how to tailor your work so you are creating work that is different) but this comes with the problem that other photographers, just like you and I, want to attract people that will buy their work and not just look at it on an uncalibrated monitor.

I may look at other (wildly) popular photographers and pretend that their growing fan base doesn’t make me feel as if though I’m doing something wrong, but it really does. But I have to remember that most of the photographers I’m referring to have been photographing constantly for at least 4 years, not to mention all of the online and offline press they have received about their work.

My advice to anyone else who is feeling the pressure of being popular is to just get on with creating work that you are proud of and are happy to call your own.

I would love to say that you should keep continuing to create work and your audience will eventually flock to you but that may never be the case.

Maybe my friend was right. Maybe sharing is the best way.

 

How Busy is Busy?

The other day, I messaged a friend to compliment them on their work and how cool it looks. Even though we’re at the same university, I haven’t seen her for quite awhile. Her reply to me was that my work looked good to and that it seems that I am keeping myself busy with it.

I found this statement to be quite funny, as I don’t think I am anywhere near busy with my work. I am the kind of person who would happily doing photo shoots every day of the week and I often get annoyed with myself if I haven’t done anything photography related within a day.

My friend’s response led me to think about the question: How busy is busy?

I know people who are busy; they update their social media sites almost every day and are working on several projects, meeting and shooting models as well as getting on with their work for university. I also know people on the complete opposite end of the scale; people who have not updated their portfolios for at least a year. This really makes me question where I fit in onto the ‘busy scale’.

It also makes me think about what it means to be busy. I am I busy with my photography when I am out shooting client and personal work? Or am I busy when I’m browsing the never-ending realms of Pinterest and saving images for inspiration?

I think being ‘busy’ means a different thing to everyone, and I know that I won’t be classing myself as busy until I am shooting at least 3-4 images a week.

What do you class as being busy?

Why you should ALWAYS do what you want to do.

I’m writing this blog post from as, first and foremost, a student and then as a photographer. I am all too aware that as a student and photographer, who has worked for clients (albeit mostly other students), that sometime in your photographic career/ artistic studies, you will end up doing a job/work that you really don’t want to do. Whether it is for money or for a better grade, I advise you to stop.

 

The worst thing that you can do is to create work that someone else tells you to do.

 

Why?

 

Because it will kill your creativity and passion.

 

If you are dealing with clients and they want you to shoot something that you are not particularly interested in, then my advice to you would be to try and put your own spin on it. If you can’t do this, then make a deal with the client and tell them that you will shoot the images that they want, but you want to shoot a few extra images where you get to decide the set up/ styling for the shoot. Remember, you don’t have to put the images you give to the client in your portfolio. If you have a favorite image from the shoot that the client didn’t like, put it in your portfolio. That way, the image that you like will show off your personality through your portfolio and you will be a lot happier showing potential clients work you are really passionate about. At the end of the day, working with clients is a collaborative process: they have come to you (or you to them) because both parties have something to offer the other.

 

One of the main situations I find students in is a debate I like to call Education vs Creativity.

 

I am in the middle of studying a degree and, like most people; I want to get the best degree possible. Sure, I’d like to get a first. That would be awesome. I would be happy with a 2.1 or even a 2.2 but I don’t think compromising my work for it is worth it.

 

The main thing I hear a lot of people say when I ask them about their degree work is ‘my tutor told me to do this piece of work, but I don’t really want to do it. But then I don’t want to fail if I don’t do it’.

 

Unfortunately, this is the crux of doing a degree.

 

Do you choose to create work you have no interest in for the sake of getting a great degree or do you do work you are proud of and get a lesser degree?

 

During my first year at university I chose the first option. What do I have to show for my first year of a degree?

 

 

I shot a shockingly small number of photographs (than you would expect from a photography degree) and none of them will ever see the light of day. Being told what to do is not fun. It does nothing for me.

 

Because of this, from the start of my second year, back in September, I have chosen the latter.

 

I would rather get a lesser degree, but have a portfolio that I am happy to show potential clients and be satisfied with the knowledge that I can openly talk about my work and the process behind rather than saying ‘I created it because I was told to’.

 

I find it is such a shame because I feel that in many ways the education system can really restricts students who study creative subjects. Art is a subjective thing. There is no right or wrong answer and opinions are not facts. Just because your tutor doesn’t like the work you are doing doesn’t mean that you should stop. In fact, you should continue because you are doing something you are interested in.

 

So, would you prefer to get a better degree but work you don’t like or a lesser degree but work you’re proud of?