Posts Tagged ‘Photography’

Many of us have some anxiety about what a photo shoot will be like for us. Will it be awkward? Will I like the pictures? Will the photographer get it? Get me? Will he or she produce images that I love? These are legitimate questions. Its not often that we have pictures taken by a professional photographer. We have them taken in school, and we have them taken at weddings and lots of us have them taken as professionals for our work. So it’s going to happen, and we might as well know a bit about the the process  and how to make the best of it. We do want the images to turn out well so that we are proud of them. I firmly believe that  a wonderful photograph can be taken of everyone. How?

Hopefully, you have an idea of what you want and can communicate that to the photographer. Photographers have very different styles and abilities. You should look at several to find one that takes pictures that you like. Having a portrait taken can be a wonderful and deeply revealing process. The great painter John Singer Sargent said, ” Every time I paint a portrait, I lose a friend.”  He probably meant this in relation to the hullabaloo that accompanied his painting of Madame X (Madame Pierre Gatreau). She was a famous beauty and when the portrait was exibited at the  1884 Paris Salon the reaction caused a scandal. Sargent left Paris and moved to England. So goes the story of the most famous  portrait setting of the 19th century. The moral of the story; he believed it was the best thing he had ever done, and the painting now hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Eventually, the portrait came to be known as one of the most valuable of the ages. Good for him. Unfortunately, you and I probably  don’t have 128 years to wait for opinion to come around!

I think that people come to me with the expectation that I will magically make them beautiful. I think that all people are beautiful. It is my job to provide an interpretation of their beauty that is pleasing. I am fortunate these days. People who come to me often know beforehand what sort of photographs I am going to create. They already like my style, and know that I am going to produce a large body of  attractive images of themselves. They trust me to do a good job. What do I do? When someone comes into my studio I greet them  warmly and show them the dressing room. Then they return to my office and begin to look through a body of my work.  I say to them, ” Please look through these images and find perhaps a dozen that look like a photograph you would like to be in”. The work I show them is of a very broad variety. I show them black and white work, color work, indoor, outdoor,and even some slightly odd images. One image I regularly show is of a man staring at a wall and laughing. It gets picked. We are all so different and what is interesting to one of us might not interest another at all. In general, I put you in a lovely location and light you well, and ask you to smile, or perform and then capture a clean, mathematically rigorous exposure. Ta dah! DONE!!! ….maybe…  OK… Lets go to another location, change clothes, the lighting, fix the makeup and  repeat until dinner time! You will then have lots of good images. In addition, I have some wonderful programs like Photoshop to manipulate the images, retouch the faces and add strength to the photograpgh. Success arrives to the prepared team. We are a team, the subject and I. The old saying about shopping is that the customer is always right. Its not true. To be completely honest sometimes I have not been right as the customer. I bought some skinny jeans as a teen that were so darn tight I couldn’t get into them. $40 down the drain because I was so embarrassed or obstinate or lazy that I couldn’t return them – or something.  In my studio, I complete the team. We are working together to achieve something  and that is the adventure and the success. The team has a much better chance to be right than the individual.

Here is the  way of getting to great pictures.   Its a little four letter word: WORK! Yes! Work. Prepare,plan,produce. The three P’s that rule 90% of our life. You wouldn’t cook a meal with out planning so why would you go to a photographer’s studio or location without a bit of planning! Just the same, why would a photographer achieve much at all with you if he doesn’t do any work. I have seen countless results of photography where the photographer does not work. School photography grades 1-6 comes to mind. Every child has 30 seconds in front of the same set up with the same lighting and backdrop. It shouldn’t work as well as it does so often, but then again,our expectations have been formed by experience, and a lot of parents and teachers try pretty hard to get their child dressed well, with clean, neat hair. We understand this. As a photographer my job is to WORK hard to get  a great result. Here is a little know secret about me. You probably couldn’t tell by looking at me but I am a little nervous before every shoot. Why? Well, because if I don’t do a great job on the one and only time that I ever have to photograph this person, I might fail. I don’t want to fail. He or she will have a failure on their hands and the word will spread far and wide. It seems that a good job is expected and a few people will learn about it, but a bad job! Wow. Remember the new Coke-a-Cola! Ouch. Even this week, McDonalds asked people to Tweet in their stories about McDonalds’ experiences and they started talking about the negative ones. It went global.  People talked about how they hate McD’s and got sick and how unhealthy the food was , etc. Opps. I never want to have that sort of experience here.  I am working hard every day and year to improve my craft and the experience you all will have here. This last year I redecorated the studio, added a new dressing room for your privacy and comfort, upgraded my computer and software, did some continuing education seminars and invested in the best lens in the world. This year, I am taking more classes, (I’m in college, too!) buying a new camera, and tackling my personal demon – bad window displays. I will always work hard on every photo shoot and if it takes something special I want to do it. I’m not here for the lunch. I’m here for the whole wonderful year!


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Oh my! A lot of time has passed since my last post in June. I wrote at that time about the Stillwater Area High School yearbook contract and how I had won the privilege of photographing the seniors at the local high school. I can now write that I have successfully completed the project and it was great. I saw about 600 of the class of 2012 in my studio. They are a great bunch of students. Fun, articulate, busy, smart, and friendly. I said several times that I was confident about the future of this country if these young men and women are going to be in charge someday.

Lisa Jaster was my office manager and I received a bunch of help from Joey Tichenor but all of the photography was done by yours truly. If you go to my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/tomyobrienphotography you will be able to see hundreds of the images. The grey background and the white background shots are the images from the senior yearbook sessions and the outside shots are from other independent senior photography sessions. All in all, I photographed about 750 seniors this year. It was great! I am looking forward to next summer when I get to do this all over again.I am going to publish a lot more this year,so be ready.

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Christmas at Nona’s. Nona is my Mom and she brings us all into her house over Christmas.We have had  so many great memories in her house. This might be the last one in the home we grew up in so it had a lot of  significance but we all know its not where you spend Christmas but with whom and how you grace the day with family and loved ones.  Thank you for life and your love and the support that you have given to all of us.

Love, Tomy

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Remember the fall? After the great storm it’s fading away in our memories. SO I thought that I would bring you back some happy shots of  Caitlin playing in the leaves. I love this sort of picture. Its fun, its colorful, and it fits Caitlin’s personality to a T. I do this every fall for about a week. I don’t know if it is Senior Photography with capital letters but it sure looks great and I love to do it. The children in Caitlin’s picture were just walking buy and I asked them if they wanted to be in a picture. Well if anyone knows them I would love to hear from them. Their presence in these photos was awesome and spontaneous. They did it and then just continued on their walk with their families! Thank you so much for joining in.

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