OPS Front Page 3
Low Tide, Bali, Indonesia
Dawn over Bryce Canyon, Utah, USA
Bryce Canyon Hoodoos, Utah, USA
Rice Farmers Walking to Work at Dawn, Burma
Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy
People on a Ferry, Gambia, West Africa
Ghanaian Fishermen, West Africa
Children Playing, Gambia, West Africa
Dunn's River Falls, Jamaica
The London Eye, UK
Gentoo Penguins, Antarctica
Tribesman, Highlands of Papua New Guinea
Reflected Beauty, Prague, Czech Republic
Church on the Island of Santorini, Greece
Plaza de Espagne, Seville, Spain
Roof of the Esplanade, Singapore
Western Reef Egrets, Gambia River, West Africa
In everyday life we hear a number of flattering terms used to describe women with good looks - pretty, lovely, photogenic, beautiful etc etc. However these terms are not used particularly carefully and in any case are not easy to define. The two most meaningful words to a photographer are "beautiful" and "photogenic". They are not the same thing, and "photogenic" is the more important of the two.
A model can be beautiful but not particularly photogenic. She can also be photogenic although not notably beautiful. Finally, as is the case for the fortunate few, she may be both beautiful and photogenic.
The meaning of beauty is discussed in another article, but a photographer discovers whether a model is photogenic when he or she has spent some time photographing her. There is no scientific process that can be used to determine whether someone is or is not photogenic, but experience behind a camera provides the answer.
Some women have physical beauty in abundance yet somehow do not make good beauty photographs. The look is just not there and the images don't really work. Perhaps it is the inability of the model to relate to the camera, or something wrong with the relationship or communication between photographer and model, or perhaps it is something about the facial features or a personal characteristic buried deep inside the mind.
Many times over the years photographers work with models who turn up at their studio in a T-shirt and jeans and an old pair of trainers. They dump a bag of clothes on the floor and go looking for a cup of coffee. Sometimes the heart sinks because the model does not at first sight look particularly stunning. Some may look rather plain and others have strong features.
However, a good make-up artist is worth her weight in gold because she has an eye for the special characteristics of each model and also knows how to use them in practice. The girl that emerges from the make-up or hairdresser's room may consequently be transformed. Models with strong looks may be more difficult to transform to a particular image and hence not suited to every role, whereas the appearance of those with plainer or more bland looks may be more easily adapted. Some talent spotters look for an "unwritten page" in the face of a potential model, but others would not agree.
Personality contributes much to being photogenic. Yes, physical beauty is always an advantage. However an ability to hit the right positions and poses, and a personality that reveals itself through attitude, facial characteristics and sparkling or alluring eyes, are both priceless. A really good model delivers excellent images one after the other. The photographer does not have to work quite as hard to achieve results - they just keep coming. The feeling is different for both photographer and model.
Not sure if you understand the significance of the various colour spaces? Can you honestly say that you are clear about the differences between Adobe RGB (1998), sRGB, Apple RGB and Wide-gamut RGB? Well, colour is a complex matter and you could spend the rest of your life studying the science of the subject. In an effort to help, and with the assistance of Bruce Lindbloom, we have introduced a 3-D gamut viewer which displays a variety of commonly-used colour spaces. The viewer even allows you to compare two three-dimensional RGB working spaces by drawing one inside the other. The whole display can then be rotated in any direction, or zoomed in and out, to help you focus on those crucial areas of difference. At last it is possible to visualize clearly how switching, for example from Adobe RGB (1998) to sRGB, imposes significant changes upon your images.
For photography to progress it is necessary to have an overall vision and reasonable clarity of purpose. Successful photographers understand the impact of an image. They visualize a message as the image is composed, and decide how it should be interpreted and conveyed to the viewer. Simple images suggest the most powerful messages, and are more likely to be understood when viewers re-interpret the visual information in the light of their personal values and beliefs. Only by developing such vision can we hope to produce an image that might, for example, come to represent a particular crisis or war.
A broader type of vision derives from clarity of purpose. Images accumulate as projects come and go, and it can eventually become difficult to see the wood for the trees. Those who view images inevitably detect uncertainty of photographic purpose arising in the mind of a photographer. Indeed, an image or photographic project without an identifiable visual message will probably fail. It will confuse those who view it, just as poorly composed letters leave readers unsure of what the writers intended. Without vision, clarity of purpose and the ability to interpret a subject we are lost.
It is all too easy to get stuck in a rut and follow the same unadventurous path, always framing similar pictures in the same way. At such times it is worth reviewing past work and asking how things might develop. Look for unexplored areas and identify consistent successes and failures. Ask what you saw in failed images, and how the subject might be approached more successfully. Objectivity is fundamental because exercises of this nature can be painful as well as stimulating and refreshing. Reviews may bring a photographer face-to -face with unseen aspects of their work, but consequent recognition of personal strengths and weaknesses may prove to be the catalyst for beneficial change.