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Andrew Billington Photographyon

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

An email to Andy Pickard

I was asked by another photographer Andy Pickard about post-production and photographer's personal style. He'd produced one of my shots in the style of Jeff Ascough and we really just had an exchange about taste, fashion and style. Here is my emailed response:

" Hi Andy,

It's a great idea to have a look at a lot of people's work and see what you like about it. You are right that I don't like to over process (it's taken me a while to get there as I used to do a fair bit) but that is to do with confidence and belief in what you shoot. Some images need more 'direction' in them in terms of guiding the viewers eye by dodging and burning but for me if you have to process it within an inch of it's life then the shot probably doesn't work.
I have started doing less and less recently - crop, colour balance, contrast, sharpen, dodge and burn if needed and add a vignette (strong or weak depending on what works for the shot). Black and white treatments are just a conversion in Lightroom (occasionally adding a bit of warmth by subtle split-toning). That's about it.
Don't get me wrong I love some of the images by Jerry Ghionis et al but it's not my style and I would say to a couple who wants that to get someone else. I'm still struggling to develop my style and identity, moving closer with every wedding, and it take a great deal of time to have the confidence to say to people 'This is what I do and how I do it. If that's what you want 'I'm your Man' if something else there are plenty of others who will do that for you'. I'm nearly getting there.
I like a lot of the processing I've seen on your portrait images - it looks very polished and professional - but I think it is about creating a continuity of work. It'll take time to develop a style that works for you, it's taking a long time for me. I also think it's not a fixed thing - you have to constantly develop and refine what you do based on outside influences. I go to galleries, I look at other photographers work, I look at advertising and fashion mags - but it's taken me a while to not keep jumping on the next 'big thing' and just do that all the time (see 'Off Camera Flash' or 'Cross Processing'). Know about them, practice them, see how they work, see when they work, use only if it will enhance what you are trying to say in your image...
I've had a fresh look at the image you worked on to get the 'Ascough' look. It's one that lends itself to that style of processing as you have to lose the centre of the photograph in order to connect the two subjects - I did this on the original I sent to you by burning you both and dodging the rest of the image, although not to an Ascough level. The image is weak in the sense that your best woman is quite prominent but in an awkward position and you both have head popping over your shoulders but I tried a subtle 'save'. Have a look at the image variations I've attached - I think they are subtler and work in different ways, it's how I would process that shot now.


Andy B "

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