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In the Douglas Kirkland on Photography series, well-known photographer Douglas Kirkland explores a variety of real-world photographic scenarios, sharing technique insights and critiquing the results.
In this installment of the series, Douglas goes on location and shows how to shoot photographs for publications. He begins with a look at the planning and packing involved in an on-location editorial shoot. Next, he shows how to construct a photo that tells a story about its subject. He demonstrates how to light and position the subject and use props to best tell the story. After getting the shot that will be on the article’s opening pages, he shoots documentary photos that show the subject in action.
Finally, he reviews the best images from the shoot and shows how he uses Photoshop to complete his workflow and refine the images. Douglas also shows how the final images were used by the magazine’s art director and describes how editorial photographers must compose shots with page design in mind by leaving space for typography and other elements.
Douglas Kirkland> Okay, now I knew the lighting was right. We had that wired. The next thing that I had to think about as a photographer on this editorial assignment, as I would on any, is working with Hannie who is not accustomed of being in front of the camera everyday. She is not a pro and she is what we call in the business "real people." She is a very much a real person. In any case that requires her feeling confident, feeling good, and certain of what she is doing and that's my job as a photographer at this point, or it will be yours if you're shooting.
Let's take a look. So what I did is quickly took a few images, just to warm things up. She felt the flash go off and she felt the environment but I did everything just to show her how great she was. I mean I compared her with my movie stars, which for me at that moment she was the most important person in my world and she has to feel that. Now, at certain point, I wanted her to relax a little, so I suggested that she lean on her hand just to give her something to do. It's a very simple gesture, and make sure that she doesn't push too hard, distort her face or anything like that.
She did it beautifully. And I let her know I was pleased and it was working well. But the shoot went on. We kept going and I saw her after a certain point, she slouched. And you know what it is? You as a photographer have to see that and you have to realize it's happened in your mind, but don't say to them, "Hey! You are slouching! Get up!" No, that's not the way. You say, "You look wonderful but I think you're just a little lower You can look even more beautiful if you will just stretch up and you will look statuesque." "You will look beautiful" and here's what happens. She feels beautiful and she is more beautiful.
That's a great part of it. The psychology of shooting and frankly it's three-quarters of what I do, because they have to feel good. And at a certain point I was aware of her husband Leo in the back of the room watching everything and the psychology is that he has to feel okay too, because if he feels good she will feel good. And so I asked him to come on in and I took this picture of him. I asked him to first put arm around her and then give her a kiss.
And that's it and we have sent a print of that to them and they love it of course. And I am glad to do that. I love to work with people, and it's all part of the process. She glowed as you can see here. And then we went on to this picture, which really was her final image, the one that the editors chose and I like it very, very much. A couple of little things I want to show you. As she leaned, and they decided to use one of the leaning pictures, she leaned just a little too hard. I saw it at the time in little camera but I would not stop the positive process that was going on, because I knew it was a very easy fix for me later.
So I want to quickly show you. Also there were couple lines here because of the position, but overall, she was glorious and I wanted to get that in my camera and it was a very easy fix, just to fix these things. You see I have fixed that. Very simple in Photoshop and this was the picture that became the lead in the story, although I did many many others. I did a lot of documentation, which helped fill the story out. This was the lead picture but in documentary work or editorial work we do much more, because as I have told you earlier we are telling a story through our images.
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