Thursday, 29 December 2016

Fine Art Photography - Succulents in Black & White.

I think most photographers have an idea about what they define as 'classic' photography, be it still life, portraiture, landscape or nature photography. And sooner or later that photographer is going get their equipment together and take a serious look at that chosen subject, to test themselves against the masters as it were. So here I am, natural light, nature, my camera and tripod and a vision for what I think photographs of succulents should look like, should be.. My initial efforts, not the pictures on show! Were not as successful as I would have liked. The subject of 'form' and the subjects form turned out to be more elusive than expected and did not agree with my vision; meaning I needed to work much harder to define what my vision should be. What does a perfect picture of a succulent look like after all? Should it appear new and pristine or show the ravages of time? Persistence, perseverance, good fortune, the vision becomes clearer and eventually successful images are created. For the first three images selected below; I have brought the camera lens in close to reveal details, line, form, texture and perhaps, a little danger.. the plants defensive tools, spines, sharp spikes and serrated edges; and finally time, age, life lived. I do feel these images have the classic photography feeling I was looking for and are the first succulent pictures to be offered for purchase in Fine Art Photographic Print Editions at my new gallery in a range of sizes,  A4 to AO and Custom - Extra Large, here
Spiralling In or Spiralling Out? A4 - A2 - AO & XL size Print Editions available. Black and White Fine Art Photography by Kent Johnson.

The Wizened Mass - Cacti Spikes. Black and White Fine Art Photography by Kent Johnson.

A Serrated Edged Succulent. Black and White Fine Art Photography by Kent Johnson.

 Fine Art Photographic Print Editions for purchase here,

Kent Johnson,
Sydney, Australia.

0433 796 863

Monday, 26 December 2016

The Stove might be Terrific but it won't deliver Fantastic Pictures.

There is a famous anecdote about understanding creativity that still does the rounds in photography circles. The story is usually attributed to Sam Haskins of Cowboy Kate fame; he is being greeted by the host who is a great fan of his work and it's told like this.. "A photographer went to a socialite's party in New York. As he entered the front door, the host said ‘I love your pictures - they’re wonderful; you must have a fantastic camera.’ He said nothing until dinner was finished, then on leaving said to the host ‘That was a wonderful dinner; you must have a terrific stove." Continues after illustration.
Photograph of a photo of coffee pots on a stove with a coffee pot - illustration for the article, The Stove might be Terrific but it won't deliver Fantastic Pictures.
Now there is nothing new in the flawed logic that it is the camera that makes the picture, even though the camera itself is an inanimate object with no mind of its own.. And that is as true of today's highly programmed digital cameras as it was of whatever film camera Sam may have chosen to create his iconic pictures with. I think we can all agree it's the chef that makes the meal, not the stove after all and the same goes for the camera; it's the photographer that makes the pictures.

So what caused this old photography anecdote to pop back into my mind? On the one hand I have been reading a fascinating book about how our brain really works, how we think and how we perceive the outside world - the world we think we see. In a nutshell we all see a lot less than we assume we do, and the brain is very very good at filling in the visual gaps on the fly.. So that's one part of why I am thinking about Sam.. And then there is the growth of online web sites for booking photography services; with the one I came across most recently referring to itself as the UBER of Photography. This site also prominently featured the stoves, I mean the cameras the photographer will make your pictures with. And I reckon brains are busy filling in some very large gaps and thinking that the camera makes the work - it doesn't.

On the surface these online photography booking systems seem attractive because they attempt to make photography into a fixed commodity, like a taxi trip from A to B or buying a new stove. Simplistic price points and deliverables (number of shots - hours worked) give an illusion of choice and that one has control. A final fixation on the camera (just one part of a photographer's tool kit) is an easy point of reference. No really it's an amateurs most obvious point of photographic reference, much easier than understanding the nature of the photoshoot itself. "What camera do you use? Nikon or Canon.." Not that it probably matters anyway. All in all you have something that feels like it should be all you need to know to take control of your marketing, and at a price point you can choose for yourself. It's a trap!

Which brings me back to how our brains work. Now I am no neuroscientist, nor am I a psychologist with a degree in marketing. I can however tell you that when I go to a life drawing group and put pencil to paper, my eyes and brain tell me I am doing well; until I need to join the last lines together to complete the picture. At that late point in time, unless I have been practising regularly I find out I am not so good a judge of what I thought I saw and what I put down on paper after all.

My brain filled in the gaps for me, but in the end, I have a gap I cannot fill, the drawing is imperfect! This is why I practice my photography every day. If not on commercial jobs, then on personal projects or just photographing things that interest me. This is also why I went to art school and assisted photographers - back in the day - who were much better than me. So I could learn to see what was really there, to reduce the brain-filled-gaps with what is really there - and see what is not! To learn to see creatively and develop a vision for my craft as a professional photographer.

While cameras may be a commodity; photography never will be. There are just too many variables. And as the saying goes, "if you are not sure where you are going, you might end up somewhere else." This can be true of photography. So thrill of the unknown journey aside.. when it comes to choosing a photographer, take a good look at their portfolio or website; keep an eye out for consistency; if you don't know what you are looking at, or for, enlist specialised help - editors or designers. When you find a photographer with the photographic vision that suits you. Give them a call or send them an email, I can assure you, they will be very happy to hear from you; and you will be making the best decision you can to get the most fantastic pictures possible!

Telling Stories in Pictures all over the world..
Kent Johnson, Sydney, Australia.
0433 796 863

Thursday, 8 December 2016

5 Modelling Portfolio Mistakes & How to Avoid Them.

Everyone says you should be a model. You have wondered for for years and now; you are finally going to give modelling a go. You are going to put yourself out there and find out if its true, but before that can happen, it's time for your first model portfolio photoshoot. Time to get some great shots to start your career with and you want to get them right!  So here's some tips on things to do and what to avoid. Scroll Down and Read on!
The headshot - 5 Mistakes to Avoid with your first Modelling Portfolio. Kent Johnson Photography, Sydney, Australia.
  • ONE - No real Headshot! OK you want to have fun with your pictures and that is a great idea but you also need shots that show what your face really looks like. A party shot with your friends or your friends cropped out just won't cut it - that's where the real headshot comes in. Nice and tight. Highlighting your fabulousness. Especially when starting out, your headshot is your business card, the picture that everyone will remember you by, so make that picture a stunning one of unforgettable you!
The model shot VS a portrait - 5 Mistakes to Avoid with your first Modelling Portfolio. Kent Johnson Photography, Sydney, Australia.
  • TWO - Portraits rarely make good portfolio shots! This is a tricky one because essentially your portfolio says who you are but it says YOU in a FASHION way, not a Mum & Dad or me with my family and friends way. Usually the BEST person for this is a Fashion photographer and not a portrait or wedding photographer, although there are of course exceptions. Do your research. You can read my article about Modelling Portfolio Headshots HERE.
Fashion VS Niche theme shoots - 5 Mistakes to Avoid with your first Modelling Portfolio. Kent Johnson Photography, Sydney, Australia.
  • THREE - Avoid heavily themed photoshoots. Of course we all love seeing pictures of people dressed as their favourite Cosplay character or super seductress, however it is not really the look you are after in your modelling portfolio especially at the beginning. Stay with the mainstream looks which are Fashion, Fitness, Health & Beauty.. Don't worry you can still book that themed shoot when it happens, get paid for it and have shots for your portfolio as well. Everything in good time.
  • FOUR - Avoid not looking like who you are.. You are you and there is no-one else like you! This believe it or not is your greatest strength. It might just be worth remembering that before they became famous, famous models were just themselves.. Work on shots that show YOU at your best, work with the best photographers you can; they will be able to help you to find your strengths as a model.
    The comp card - 5 Mistakes to Avoid with your first Modelling Portfolio. Kent Johnson Photography, Sydney, Australia.
  • FIVE - Leave the landscape pictures to the landscape photographers. What does that mean? Make sure the picture is about you and not a beautiful seascape sunset shot that you happen to be a little bit of over there, somewhere... (Not that there's anything wrong with great landscape pictures). Or some crazy spot where you blend in almost completely. Again, do your research BEFORE the shoot, check out the photographers work, you will see right away how they place their subject (the model) in their photographs. If you are shooting on location, you want to find a photographer who understands how to make you the key element in the composition, no matter where the picture is taken.
The location shot - 5 Mistakes to Avoid with your first Modelling Portfolio. Kent Johnson Photography, Sydney, Australia.
Kent Johnson is a Sydney based Fashion and model portfolio photographer. He has been published in numerous Australian Fashion Magazines and has had his photography exhibited in major photographic exhibitions. To see more of Kent's Fashion work click here, to learn more about his Modelling portfolio's click here.