More and more often I hear potential customers admire my work but then decline my services. The reason they give is that they’ve found somebody else who has a good camera and will take pictures for free. It’s hard to argue with that, but sometimes you get what you pay for. While there are a lot of good amateur photographers out there, having a fancy camera does not necessarily make someone a good photographer. There’s something to be said for experience, and I still feel like I’m improving all the time.
The other day, my daughter and a friend were playing on an old oak tree, and I snapped a few quick pictures. Most parents probably would have been quite pleased with the picture on the left. I’d been using the flash with a diffuser to fill in the dappled light under the tree when I turned around and saw my daughter in this great pose. For the first shot, the flash was still on. I saw that the lighting was better without the flash, so I quickly turned it off and snapped another shot. After the fact, I made a few adjustments of color and contrast and added some extra shading around the edges. The result was the shot on the right, and that’s the difference between a snapshot and what I call a living portrait. While there are a few small adjustments I would have made to the pose had I arranged the shot, the spontaneity and natural facial expression definitely make up for it.
After taking these pictures, I zoomed out to get a shot with her friend too. That picture has a different mood to it, but I think it turned out quite well too.