An Introduction To Creative Human Photography

An Introduction To Creative Human Photography

Headshot Nikki

Headshot Nikki

by Shelley Harvey

Creative portrait photography is all about what inspires you.

 

It is your interpretation of a concept, creating a piece of work which evokes emotion and inspires a viewer to want to keep looking at it and hopefully hang it on a wall in their home.

I have been creating fine art portraiture for eight years, and all the while, my work has been an intuitive, evolutionary process. I am forever learning new techniques and finding new ideas to try. We should never stop trying to learn and move forward in our craft as trying something new, something which is challenging and perhaps uncomfortable, is never time wasted. Even if our best-laid plans fail, we will have at least learnt from the process.

When we speak of portraiture, we often think of client sessions and family photos – fine art portraiture differs, as it is a work, a creation, we do for ourselves. We create the scene, create an emotion, and turn it into art. We have full creative licence to do as we please (always with the model’s consent, of course!)

Concept & Creativity

My style varies from shooting in natural light when I’m keen to capture catchlights in the eyes to shooting against dark backgrounds, which suits my darker, grungy style of photography.

I always convert my work to black and white to see if the image becomes more powerful when the colour is stripped away. Take, for example, my image titled Scintillating Silver, where I took inspiration from my surroundings and the props I had on hand.

Prior to my workshop, I found a cool piece of metal mesh in my husband's shed. I instantly thought this could be used in an image! The mesh was pliable and didn't have too many sharp edges that would scratch the model. Once on location, the idea came together when I had Millie in make-up and dressed in a silver bodysuit - that's when the mesh was added.

I love the texture the mesh brings to the image and also the ‘why factor’. I am always looking for items or objects I can add to an image to create a different look.

Hands

When creating fine art portraiture, the original image SOC (straight out of camera) is often the foundation on which to build meaning that, although I plan the concept, some of my images from planned shoots are happy accidents. Sometimes I will use the full image; other times, I may focus on one area, as was the case in my image titled Fallen Angel, which has become all about the hands. This was not my original intention, but once I got into post-processing, I was mesmerised by the hands and the emotion they conveyed. The rest of the image suddenly became less important, hence the blurring of the rest of the subject. By using this process, the viewer is drawn to the hands, and a story begins to unfold. To me, this image signifies struggles of faith and power.

Very rarely will I delete any images from a shoot as I will go back and use pieces from different images to create a composite, and as my post-processing techniques evolve, I always have stock to pull from to process in a different way.

Preparation of the concept is imperative before I begin a shoot. There are several factors to consider, including location, natural or artificial light, props, wardrobe, hair, and makeup. Am I going for a set theme? Does this involve creating a period in time? What emotions am I trying to convey? Do I have a story in my mind that will be easy for the viewer to decipher, or do I want it left open for interpretation?

Read the full article by Shelley Harvey in Issue 58 of NZPhotographer magazine.


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Lessons In The Landscape

Lessons In The Landscape

Happy Trails

Our Land
F22, 1/20s, ISO250

with Judy Stokes

A passionate relationship with photography started when I found a style/genre of photography that moulded perfectly with my personality.

 

Intentional Camera Movement (ICM) suited my quest to find a style that was free and spontaneous. For me, ICM is a way of playing behind the camera – a way to find that joy and sense of wonder we had as kids, a way to explore the unexpected and feel a bit of magic touch our day – simply a way to have FUN while out in nature! I also love the quirky fact that the images turn out to really look more like paintings than photographs!

So how do we create these photographic images that look like paintings? I have chosen some images to tell the story of ICM creation in the landscape.

Milking A Moment

The grand masters of photography would throw up their hands in horror at this approach but I have found it works for me! When something catches my eye that I want to photograph I literally play with it with my camera and I use the viewfinder to think through the process.

Here you can see how I play - I take some “straight shots” as well as experiment with different types of camera movement shots with a variety of results.

The one I ended up with as the chosen shot of this set is called “Storm meets Sea”. The bottom three images, straight out of the camera, show how I adjust my ISO to be able to get different slow shutter speeds. The “Storm meets Sea ” image has very little post-processing, mostly removal of dust spots which is a thing you will need to watch out for with ICM images!!

Feel The Soul Of A Place

The reason I do photography is not for the results and images I end up with, but for the pleasure of the process and how I feel after I have been out with my camera. I love the way photography slows me down - makes me stop in a beautiful place and gets me to be at one with nature. I will often take the time to sit in a place and get a feeling for it before I start my camera playing.

I always shoot on my own, hand holding my camera, and don’t like to use filters therefore, forests are fabulous for ICM as they enable me to slow down my shutter speed. These two images are taken from the same spot but you can see I focused on different parts of the forest for them. In the first one, I focused on the nikau frond and in the second, the trunk of a large native tree. You can see how in these images I also played with exposure compensation. I often use exposure compensation as a “mood tool”. Again, these images have had almost no post-processing.

Read the full article by Judy Stokes in Issue 57 of NZPhotographer magazine.


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Rising Star

Rising Star

Happy Trails

Solitude
Nikon Z6 + Sigma 28mm F1.4 Art

with Tom Rae

Tom is a 17-year-old landscape and astrophotographer who captures images of the world around us from the South Island of New Zealand. Being under the night sky gives him an indescribable sense of awe. He hopes his images will inspire others to look up at the night sky and ponder their place in the universe.

 

Tom, tell us about you and how your photography journey started…

I was first introduced to a camera in 2017, where I mainly took landscape images and edited them in artistic ways. I loved the way you could pretty much create anything you could imagine. After I began my journey with a camera, photography joined with something I've always been fascinated with ever since I was a little kid - the night sky. I find that photographing it is an experience like no other, and it is what I mainly focus on in my work today.

Being in nature and under the night sky is probably my favourite thing about photography. I just love being out exploring, enjoying the world around us and thinking about our place in the universe. Experiencing the incredible view of our night sky creates a feeling that cannot be replicated.

Behind the camera, there is an intense and indescribable sense of awe, wonder, and gratitude. I think my appreciation for nature and curiosity for the night sky, combined with my love for art and creative freedom, drives my motivation. I also love to inspire people through my images by producing the best work I possibly can and showing people what is really out there past the lights of our cities.

Origins
Nikon Z6 + Sigma 28mm F1.4 Art.

What are you shooting with?

I am currently shooting with a full-frame mirrorless camera (Nikon Z6) and a number of wide-aperture prime lenses, which I use primarily for astrophotography.

When you shoot long exposure images of the night sky, you can get what’s known as star trailing when the earth rotates in space. To counteract this, I use a star tracker mounted on my tripod to keep the stars still and sharp while shooting with ultra-long exposures, allowing me to shoot longer exposures of the night sky and produce cleaner images.

How did you learn photography?

I have been self-taught ever since I first picked up a camera! There has been a lot of trial and error, but I am happy with my progress so far!

Read the full article by Tom Rae in Issue 56 of NZPhotographer magazine.


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The Art of Street Photography

The Art of Street Photography

Mumbai Taxi

Mumbai Taxi
Fujifilm X-T20 @ F22, 1/15s, ISO200, 21mm

By Alan Blundell

In the last 4 months, we have explored the fundamentals of street photography – shooting techniques, gear, and basic settings.

In this month’s article, I want to look at some of the more artistic ways cameras can be used to deliver more creative outcomes…  What do I mean by arty?  Well, Andy Warhol once described art as “Anything you can get away with”. Art is limited only by your imagination and ability to capture, experiment, and produce a final print.

Let’s look at some ideas to allow you to put something together with a less technical focus and start you thinking about more abstract work when out on the street.

Motion Blur

Up to this point, the discussion has been about capturing an image that is in focus, but what methods are available to deliberately convey that sense of movement?

Panning – This idea can be used in a scenario where you stand side-on to the direction of movement and follow your subject with the camera at the speed it is travelling. The objective here is to freeze the moving object and blur its background.  The principal variable will be the shutter speed – which of course will vary slightly depending on the speed of the object.

Moving object – Holding a camera still with a slowish shutter speed such as in this circus silk rope act image - especially with strong lighting, can create dramatic results. The challenge here is keeping the camera still and making sure you get your exposure right. An f-stop of around f11 is needed here to limit the amount of light getting through to the film or sensor for the longer period than normal that the shutter is open.

Combination – If you have a willing participant, (such as my wife during lockdown), you can set up some scenarios and experiment with still and moving elements until you get the right mix of static and dynamic to produce, in this case, an interesting variation on a portrait. The texture in this shot is really important. Adding soft fabric elements can introduce a lovely softness to these types of images.

 

Silk

Silk
Leica Q2, @ F1.7, 1/30s, ISO640, 28mm

Read the full article by Alan Blundell in Issue 55 of NZPhotographer magazine.


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Thoughts Over Morning Coffee

Thoughts Over Morning Coffee

By Richard Young

 

"Photography doesn't start with the landscape or the camera; it starts with us."

As a creative photographer, I think more about why I photograph and what I'm trying to express than I do making or editing photographs. Each morning, I wake up early and make a coffee - fresh espresso, of course - like many things; coffee is worth taking time in its preparation, enjoying the art of creation. I'll sit on the couch for about an hour reading photography books and magazine articles (plus watching the odd YouTube video) from photographers I admire.

Often I will just read, but sometimes I will have a creative thought process, and I have to write down a few notes; this is how most of my articles for the magazine start, a thought over morning coffee. These thoughts are often continuations on topics explored in the two ebooks I wrote with Ken Wright in 2020 on Style & Vision and Expressive Photography.

 

Over the last year, I have spent a great deal of time thinking about why I make photographs, what I'm trying to express, and what stands my work apart from others who work in the same landscapes. I'm not referring to how I can create better images than them. In fact, I'm less and less worried about external validation of my work. It's more about trying to understand why I am creating images to start with. What are my photographs telling me about myself? What is the relationship with the subject that I'm trying to express? 

For me, the camera unlocks more about me than the object I am photographing. And really, this is why I photograph these days. I photograph more to understand myself and express my relationship with the landscape rather than capture images representing landscapes I visit. A great photograph is like a great coffee, not simply the end product but about a process of creation. Of course, there's a technical side, a skill, but the use of this must be guided by intent. We can't simply use a set process to make the best photograph. What are we even aiming for, and how do you define the "best" photograph?

As we grow, our tastes will change, our expectations will increase, and we may be less content with what was once considered good enough. So I encourage you, not just to go out and photograph, not just to spend your time editing images; spend your time thinking about your work, thinking about what you're trying to express. And when you are out photographing, enjoy the process of creation, not just the final product.

Read the full article by Richard Young in Issue 54 of NZPhotographer magazine.


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Get Your Grunge On

Get Your Grunge On

 Fairlie Atkinson

Have you wondered how some photos manage to give off a grungy vibe? Or have you looked at a photo and asked yourself how they have managed to create texture in a shot that would not ordinarily have it? The answer is by using editing software.

Grunges are different to filters as they are an overlay that you pop onto your photo during editing. A filter is what you use when you’re shooting. If you’re of the Instagram era this may confuse you, as you add the filter after you take the shot. What this is doing though is creating a photo that looks like it has been shot with that filter already in place on a camera.

A grunge is an overlay to provide a textured look to your images.

GETTING STARTED

It’s quite easy to find copyright free grunges online. If you go to WikiMedia Commons and type ‘texture’ in the search bar you will find a plethora of textured free images of wood, grains, and grunges that are free to use. You can also find free grunges on Pixabay and other commercial sites but you have to sign up and then the emails don’t stop!

I downloaded a brown distressed concrete grunge from WikiMedia Commons and popped it onto an image I took of a gannet at Cape Kidnappers. The grunge enhances the yellows and browns in the original image and gives it a nice texture, not only does it look good on the screen, it will print really nicely on a canvas for a unique piece of home décor.

Here you can see I have popped the grunge as a new layer over the gannet. I will enlarge it until the entire bird is covered by the grunge, then choose a blend mode, change the opacity and then erase parts of the grunge that cover the bird that I don’t want. We will look at this process in more detail in the next part of this article.

Read the full article by Fairlie Atkinson in Issue 53 of NZPhotographer magazine.


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