February 18, 2018

Cooking, Photography and Life | Portrait Photography

Fair warning:  This is not the original post I had planned.  Sometimes you read something that really resonates.  Yesterday I read this post by a local chef named Dominic Colose.  It was really funny how everything he was talking about applied to portrait photography for me.  Cooking and Photography can be similar.  You start with a few ingredients, combine them and end up with a finished product.  Here are a few truth bombs from Dominic’s post:

“It’s so good to be classic and not trendy.” ~ Chef Gabrielle Hamilton

Yes.  So much Yes.  My objective is always to make my clients look great.  They also need to be the sole focus (pun absolutely intended) of the image.  The longer I have been photographing people, the more I realize that simple and classic gets the job done best.  Cheesy filters, poor exposure techniques, trendy posing and lighting all date a picture and tend to take away from the subject.  In the 1970s and 80s there was this trend to do double exposure photos of the bride and groom superimposed on the sheet music of their first dance or in a champagne glass.  It looked dumb then.  It still looks dumb today.  Imagine my horror when I saw a “new” trend of doing something similar in Photoshop recently with trees and such.  I think it all boils down to this–doing something just because you can do it does not make a photograph better.  And most times it makes it worse.

“A jazz musician can improvise based on his knowledge of music.  He understands how things go together.  For a chef, once you have that basis, that’s when cuisine gets really exciting.” ~ The late Charlie Trotter

My teacher Monte Zucker used to joke around and say “It is so simple!  There is only OFLP!”  Meaning One Frontal Lighting Pattern.  Only he would say One F**king Lighting Pattern.  He also used to always say that good lighting never calls attention to itself while bad lighting just screams.  Photography is all about light–seeing light and using light.  Using light is like using an ingredient in a recipe.  Learning this made portraiture simple and allowed me to concentrate on getting good expression and flattering posing, the other ingredients to a great portrait.

“We go through our careers and things happen to us. Those experiences made me what I am.” ~ Chef Thomas Keller

When I first started out many years ago, I worked for different studios before opening my own business.  It helped me find my own “voice.”  It also helped me figure out what kind of business owner I wanted to be.  I  I learned that I did not want to be a high volume studio and that I wanted people to feel like they were getting a great product with a great experience.

“When you have made as many mistakes as I have then you can be as good as me.” ~ Chef Wolfgang Puck

What I like about photography is that there are so many things to learn.  Sometimes I try different things and they are not so great.  And that is ok–as long as I learn something.  Sometimes you have to screw up a lot to get to where you need to be.  One thing I have learned is that if you don’t try new things, you just float along in your own little mediocre bubble.

“Chefs are leaders in their own little world.” ~ Chef Eric Ripert

LOL.  Welcome to my world.  Sometimes I feel like I am directing a movie.  Or that I am Oz the All Powerful.

“I would much rather be a chef who remembers I am a cook then a cook that thinks I am a chef.” ~ Chef Ric Peterson

At the end of the day, it is not about me–it is about making my clients look and feel great about themselves.  I don’t have time to be a prima donna photographer.  I will leave that to others.

Those were just a few of the gems of wisdom from Dominic’s blog.  I urge you to read the rest at Chef’s World.

Do you want to see some Portrait Photography?  Check out our Teens and Seniors Portraits.

Photographer Susan Blackburn of Susan Blackburn Photography specializes in photographing Seniors, Family, Weddings, Glamour, Boudoir & Commercial Photography sessions. With a photography studio location in Saratoga Springs, NY, Susan serves the Saratoga Springs, Lake George and the Adirondack Regions. She is also available for travel assignments.  Susan has been a professional photographer for 20 years. Her goal has always been simple—take pictures that her clients love.