“If I can make you think, or if I can make you feel, my job’s done. That’s my passion.”

Cale Glendening is a freelance photographer and film maker, and definitely an inspiration!

The above music video, created for musician Van Risseghem, is an excellent example of this. Even though the budget was incredibly limited, the final project is a beautiful visual narrative of the song. As he writes on his blog, “We have to stop making excuses and get out there and CREATE!” I suppose it goes to show that a good idea will trump uncertain circumstances any day.

He also relatively recently travelled to Indonesia to photograph and film the Mentawai Tribe – he found a story he wanted to tell, and so he went and told it; awesome! Perhaps it’s his passion that make his work so remarkable?

Photo by Ariel Body

For a significant portion of my childhood, I took gymnastic lessons. If you’re familiar with me and my current level of clumsiness, you’ll be surprised to know that I was actually most excellent on the balance beam; cartwheels and rolls and dismounts from a four inch beam were my forte.

I remember my coach always told me to keep my eye on the end of the beam. I thought this was silly, considering my feet were under me, not at the end. But I quickly learned that by keeping my head up and looking at the end, I had better balance because I had a clearer view of my destination.

It’s kind of a similar concept within my creative practice. The more I look at other people or business whom I admire, the more I feel like I have a clear idea of where I want to go.

I would say that definitely having a list of people whom you admire significantly – whether it’s because their work is inspiring or their values within their business are beautiful – and looking at those stories of success can be greatly advantageous to growing your vision.

I’m going to start posting examples of these creatives, companies, or just people whom I find inspiring, so, join me over the next few days for some blogs on inspiring folk that do things I love!

(Also, who inspires you?)

Last week, I was lucky enough to interview photographer Matt Sartain about his work, process, and inspiration for a blog I’ve been contributing to called Feature Shoot. Below is a snippet of the full interview in which he discusses the influence of digital methods on his work!

Your work very much utilizes digital manipulation and composites. Do you think this method of creation adds to the narrative strength of your work? If so, how?

‘Besides the color and toning in Photoshop I would be happy to do all of these things in camera. Truth is it’s often not practical and sometimes not even possible to do what I want in camera. Often times the use of compositing and manipulation is a more accessible way to get something that would otherwise be out of my budget. I hope to do more practical in-camera imagery as the budget for my work grows. The less compositing the better as far as I’m concerned, so when I use that technique it’s because the decision has been made from a production standpoint. Before any shot goes into production I consider what I have (time/money/location/crew) and then decide what I can do in camera and what I do in post. Often times images that would require an enormous crew, rigging, permits, etc. are just me and one other person – compositing allows for a lot of freedoms.

‘The role of compositing has had a remarkable effect on my photography. I remember when I first began to construct images – I started small and went bigger and bigger and bigger. I was excited when I discovered that my work was only limited to my imagination. There’s something really empowering about feeling like there is nothing I can’t create – I don’t mean that in a cocky way, I mean only to say that I’ve discovered my strengths and weaknesses and I know that if I can concept an image I can create it’.

Check out the rest of the interview here!

I know, I know – there are a million and one posts about the ‘best portfolio sites’ or ‘slickest website designs for artists’ – but I come to you with my contribution on the topic: Not merely a list of Excellent Portfolio Sites (based on content or design), but also Associated Lessons You Can Learn From Them! Are you excited now?

 

1. Jesh de Rox – www.jeshderox.com

(I know it’s flash but give it a chance!) This is quite possibly one of the most beautiful portfolio sites I’ve seen in a while, that I think quite exceptionally tells the story of Rox’s work (which is very much based on experiental photography and loving life).

Lesson: Design for your client – know who they are and what will appeal to them. Rox’s site is beautiful and exceptional because it does this (but it probably wouldn’t be as effective if he specialized in sports photography).

2. Erik Ryan Anderson – http://www.ericryananderson.com/

Definite props for the simplicity here, I think, but also the variety of work and how it’s portrayed (the order of the scrolling images tell a story of their own). He’s also got a blog that’s worth checking out.

Lesson: Include personal work! What you spend your own time working on is a good reflection of what you’re passionate about. If people see this work, you’ll be more likely to get hired to what you love!

 

3. John Keatley – http://www.keatleyphoto.com/

I think one of my favourite things about this site is that the photos speak for themselves, but for each photo there is also a link to ‘Read more on the blog’. It’s not forcing people to read, but gives them the option to feel more involved and respond. It seems actually rather friendly.

Lesson: Keep it simple but show your visual style. Think about how the design and can best complement your images – sometimes it’s okay not to use words, let the work speak for itself!

That’s all for now, folks – stay tuned for (a possible) part II in the near future!

I’ve been working on various lighting techniques within portraiture, particularly outdoors and using multiple light sources. With other experiments I’ve completed thus far using CG and photography, the portraits have been done within a studio lighting context. However, my past experience (and thus, comfort zone) comes in the form of natural light and very interaction based scenarios, where the photos are about the story of the people in the place, not so much the technique and perfection. So it’s been interesting working and shooting within other environments, and how I’ve found various places to have quite distinctly different atmospheres when shooting.

Anyway, I did an interview a few weeks ago with (primarily) advertising photographer John Offenbach, in which I asked him about his experience in using CGI with photography, among other things. In particular, I thought his response to the following question was quite interesting –

How do you think new digital manipulation techniques are changing photography?
‘It’s a big change in approach. I think that on set/location there was more experimentation more discovery before, because you were never really sure what you had. Now there is a tendency to ‘gather the pieces’.

Working recently with the creation of CG environments and then combining them with studio style portraits, this is definitely something I can relate to! There is absolutely something to be said about that spur of the moment interaction with on location shoots. With CG, it seems that there is a need to pre-plan every detail – to, yes, ‘gather the pieces’ – which can very easily result in a disingenuous shooting atmosphere.

It’s interesting, I was thinking about it earlier today, how some people say that photography is like a modern version of painting. That a lot of the rules and ideas behind photography (aesthetically) are very much based on painting.

To me, painting captures the essence of something, while photography captures the instant of something.

But with using CG – when it’s done well – I’ve found there’s this strange dynamic where you can capture both the essence and the instant, which is fascinating.

The tricky part is creating the instant – that spur of the moment natural feeling. It’s weird, like you suddenly need to fabricate the essence in real life in order to capture the instant. Otherwise, the interaction between the real and digital becomes somehow unbelievable.

Just some late night contemplations!

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