Art is a journey that you never reach the end of, a mountain you never reach the top of, because as soon as you feel like you have nothing more to learn, you become stale and, at least for me, that would make it uninteresting.
For artistic photography there are basically three elements.
1) The set up. This can take many different forms but as simple as getting in the right position at the right time for the landscape you are photographing, to creating costumes and special effects. For me, it almost always involves setting my lights where and how I want them.
These clients sewed their own costumes. I brought the smoke and set the lighting. We went to a location where we would have the sun on the horizon to simulate the Aaron Burr/Alexander Hamilton duel at dawn. These clients wowed me with their attention to detail, wearing period costumes, period spectacles and bringing period weapons.
2) Taking the photo. This involves getting in the right position, testing the lights and then taking many different photos from different angles. If you have gone to a lot of effort in step 1, there is no way you want to take one or two photos and be done. One of my teachers told me, “Never assume you have the shot. Keep shooting.” Excellent advice.
3) The last step is finishing the photo. Some photos come straight out of the camera nearly perfect, but that’s very unusual. On the computer you can reframe a photo with cropping, you can remove things in the photo that you didn’t see at the time you took the picture, you can change exposure levels to get more or less contrast, and on and on and on.
It is this third step that is the point of this blog. Some months ago I photographed a very pretty and charming young woman, Erica Ly. Her mother Kim Ly assisted. A week or two later I showed them the photos and they loved them. But recently I have been learning a few new things for processing photos on my computer. I went back and took one of the photos that didn’t make the cut back last year, and re-processed it.
Here is the original photo, unretouched. Yes, it’s pretty darn good, but we had a lot of very good photos from that shoot so I passed this one over back then.
Then I learned some new computer techniques and tried them on this photo. Here is the result.
And finally, this is where I got wowed. I showed the newly retouched photo to her mother. Her mother posted it on Facebook with this caption, “A Hal Masover photo portrait is more than an image - it’s an investment to treasure for a lifetime.” Kim Minh Ly