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Who Are Your Photos Really For?

(By Olaf Blecker, via The F STOP)

When you make a portrait of someone, who are you trying to please? The subject? Yourself? The editor of a publication?

All three? (Heaven forbid.)

As an editorial shooter, I was always trying to please me first and the publication second. And if I made the subject happy, too, that was fine. But I never expected to please all three.

More after the jump.

Olaf Blecker, who is featured in the current edition of The F STOP (and who shot the above portrait of author Phillip Roth) is absolutely not trying to please his subjects. In fact, some people specifically request that they not be shot by him. Which, IMO, is one of the main reasons why his photos are so interesting.

Magazines (WIRED comes to mind) do not exist only to be filled with namby-pamby, flattering photos of people. (How boring would that be?) And yet, if your first goal is to please the person sitting for your photo, that is exactly where you might be headed.

Finding a unique (and perhaps less-than-flattering) lighting style can be the first step in defining a new look for yourself. In its current issue, the F STOP magazine interviews Blecker, who shares lighting info, post-processing techniques and weaves a very interesting discussion on the different forces at play in creating an interesting portrait.

For instance, in the photo above, he is working with two lights (one in an umbrella, one in a diffused reflector) with some very simple post processing. I wouldn't shoot my mother-in-law like that, but I find Blecker's approach very interesting. And it has me thinking about my own lighting.

See the full interview at the F STOP mag here, and see more of Blecker's work at his website.


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