Beyond Photography: Honing Your Inspiration into Photographic Fine Art | David Samuel Stern | Skillshare

Beyond Photography: Honing Your Inspiration into Photographic Fine Art

David Samuel Stern, Photographer / Artist / Teacher

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10 Lessons (1h 21m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Class Project Overview

    • 3. Finding Inspiration

    • 4. Inspiration Image Binder

    • 5. Sketching Your Photographs

    • 6. On Set: Working With a Crew & Arranging a Form

    • 7. On Set: Shooting in Series & Making Adjustments

    • 8. Reviewing & Selecting Photos

    • 9. Making a Mockup

    • 10. Conclusion


About This Class

When art is the goal of photography, you need to hone your ideas and make sure that the resulting images reflect what those ideas were in the first place. This means shooting with a heightened degree of concept, preparation, and purpose—skills that are essential in developing a consistent yet evolving personal style.

In this class, David Samuel Stern will share with all levels of photographers, artists, and designers a template for using photography in a calculated way that reinforces personal direction. Students will then follow David on-set, where he and his team put these preparations into meticulous practice.

In this class you'll learn a framework for honing your interests into deliberate, art-oriented photographs. Students will be able to post their own inspiration images and preliminary sketches, along with their photographic results.

A basic knowledge of photography, art, or design as well as a camera (phone is fine!) is required.

This class was written and taught by David Samuel Stern. It was produced by Daniel Halper, Lee Cohen (filming and editing), and Gabriel Reyes (Color Correction) on behalf of Skillshare.


1. Introduction: When you hone what you find interesting and incorporate it into your photographic process, there are no wrong answers. My name is David Samuel Stern. I'm photographer, but more accurately, I'm an artist who uses photography as his medium. I've been teaching photography for 11 years, and most of the work that I do is aimed at being shown in galleries. My work's been shown in magazines such as California Sunday magazine, Juxtapoz magazine, GUP magazine, American Craft magazine. For the last six or seven years, I've taught at Brooklyn Brainery here in New York. I've been working on a series of artworks that are photographic based artworks called woven portraits, which requires me to work with the images in a very physical way. I want this class to be about putting your inspiration into action, and about activating your ideas. Because when we shoot with art as the goal of photography, we need to hone those ideas and we need to make sure that the images reflect with what the original idea was in the first place. So that's what this class is about, it's about using photography as an art medium, which means you have to be deliberate. Only a basic familiarity with photography, art, or design is required for this class. If you're a designer or an artist who doesn't use photography as your primary medium, this class will still apply to you. Because this class is about honing your ideas and using photography to get what you want from those ideas, and then you can incorporate the images that you get back into your main medium, whether it's design or whether it's art, or any other creative name. By the end of this class, you will be bounded to the traditional aesthetic parameters of photography. You'll be able to put your inspiration into practice and literally bring it with you to the shoot. I'm always interested to see what people do when they're given a camera and especially when they're asked to make images with it that they find personally interesting. So I'm excited to be teaching this class. All right, let's get started. 2. Class Project Overview: The project for today's class, the goal of it is for you to take a series of photos that are based on your own ideas and your own inspiration. But all of the photos in the end will be thought of in advance. The project has three basic parts and you can read the full description below in the class description section. The first part is going to be making an inspiration image binder. The second part is going to be to plan and execute a small photo shoot. The third part is going to be review those images and then post the ones that work. The first part of the project, making an inspiration image binder. We'll talk about that in detail in one of the next videos, but the main parts of it, are you're going to curate a selection of images that you find useful. Then you're going to make sketches of photos that you might possibly be able to make that would fit in with that group of images that you have in the binder. Then you're going to plan and execute a small photo shoot. You're going to gather any materials you might need and find a suitable location. You're going to take pictures that relate back to the images that you already have in your inspiration image binder. Then you're going to look through the results and you're going to pick your three best photos from your photo shoot. You're going to pick three of your key images from your inspiration image binder. One of them should probably be one of the sketches that you make and you're going to post those results in the student work section. Don't worry if you don't have a lot of photo gear or if you don't have access to a photo studio, all you need really is a phone and a space to photograph in. You're going to see me do my shoot here in a photo studio with a crew of people. You don't need any of that. I chose this project because I want you to make images that are the results of your own ideas because that's what we're doing when we do fine art photography, we're being deliberate in our process of executing those ideas and coming up with photographic results. The lessons in this class are meant to facilitate that template for honing your ideas and coming up with a very deliberate, specific, premeditated, photographic result. I'll walk you through my own work and how I calibrate my own process to give me images that are useful for exactly what I need. Finally, I'll ask you to execute and upload your own project. You'll show me and the other students, not only your final images, but also some of the inspiration images and your sketches that led to the images that you wound up taking. I want you to get into a certain frame of mind. You're not here to take photos about what's in front of you. You're here to take photos that you are planning on taking anyway, this class should be a peek behind the scenes into what it takes to make those images actually happen in reality. For the next hour or so, if you're a photographer, you're actually an artist/photographer. If you're a designer, you're an artist/designer. If you're already an artist and you're an artist who uses photography as your medium. Let's begin. 3. Finding Inspiration: In this lesson, I'm going to briefly go over some of my own work and how I got into my particular fine art direction. I just want to stress that what you're going to be seeing me doing and the things that you're going to hear me talking about are not necessarily going to be the same things that you're interested in or what you are going to be doing, this is just how I'm going to be using the template that I am trying to make this class about. As I mentioned earlier, I've spent almost a decade now working on a series of images called woven portraits, and those are actually a pretty good example of using this process of honing ideas and making images that fit in with a pre-existing set of, I guess you could say, inspiration or influences. Some of the most recent pieces, for example, are really highly influenced work by Richard Learoyd who may not seem like it first, but is also working in a very physical way, assembling a giant camera obscura that makes a single non-editioned image, just a one-of-a-kind image of a model portrait subject that is actually bigger than the portrait subject, her or himself. That piece of paper that was inside of the camera obscura was actually in the same room as the model was when the exposure was made, so that's a very physical object. I really like that work as well, there's something very visceral about it. It's a physical object, the photograph as itself, but there's also something very physical about the person in the photograph too, there's almost like an uncomfortable proximity and a vulnerability on your part as the viewer, but also on the portrait subjects' part being examined so closely by you. A lot of the work that I do originates with sketches. Those sketches sometimes come from figure drawing sessions, they sometimes are the results of just sketching something out of a magazine that I found interesting or tearing the page out of the magazine, sitting on it for a few weeks, and then sort what I find interesting about that image that I tore out of the magazine. Some of the most recent poses that I use in those portraits are directly from sketches. The woven portrait series, it's influenced by a lot of artists, but it's also influenced by George Seurat. I find his work to be incredibly process-oriented and I love that there's a certain poetry and just plugging away at process. Somebody said to him, your work is so magical and he said, nope, I just apply my process and that's it. Again, I think that sounds robotic and a little bit dismissive, but actually I think I love that for him, the magic is the process, everything you need to know is in the process. I think there's also a certain aesthetic that I admire about his work to the way that figures tend to dissolve into darkness or they tend to materialize out of points in the universe that you can't really identify. There's definitely a poetry there that I think I aim for with my work. Another series that I've been working on for the last few years is called Winter Solstice Pinhole photographs. The idea being simply to take a picture using a pinhole camera on the winter solstice or the days surrounding the winter solstice, when light is so scarce, something seems really appropriate about using light in this very raw way during the time of year when we have the least of it. I use expired photo paper, vintage photo paper. I also enjoy the idea that the paper itself has waited past its expected service in order to receive this tiny amount of light. When I can, I also try to go as far North as I possibly can on the winter solstice, just so that the light is a little bit scarce. How does all this influence the final image? Well, I think that photographers and even people who have some vague understanding of photography are capable of having an idea of what they want the final image to look like but maybe it's not so specific, and they usually don't know how to get there. I've spent the last 10 or 15 years doing fine art photography in a very deliberate way. The steps that I've tried to put into this process of getting to the final image are what I've found to be useful in my work. When I'm talking about the woven portraits, I have to talk about some of these other artists that have influenced me. I have to refer back to previous iterations of the woven portrait series, and as I did earlier, I even sometimes have to refer back to the initial sketches. Start gathering a set of inspiration images. We'll talk a little bit more about this in the next video, but start gathering a series of images that you find to be useful in some way, even if it's an abstract indirect way. This can mean tearing images out of magazines, it can mean the next time you go to a museum or a gallery, just snap a photo of some interesting artwork on your phone. It can mean sketching out your ideas, they don't have to be good sketches they can be stick figures. Also think of words that you would use to describe their mood or atmosphere. Filter them out later. For now, go overboard. Even something that might seem interesting to you in some way that you don't understand for now, take a picture of it, tear it out of the magazine, sketch it, hold on to it, it'll be useful at some point. In the next video, we're going to take all of this a step further. We're going to assemble an inspiration image binder and I'll take you through my process for how I did that for the shoot that we're going to do a little bit later today. Soon a lot's going to happen and people will be waiting on me, and when you're in a photo studio, the rule is if you're five minutes early, you're 10 minutes late, so let's go. 4. Inspiration Image Binder: Now that we've talked a bit about my fine art direction, we can get into how you can establish something that's more cohesively yours. I think that that's when we need to start talking about how to assemble your inspiration image binder. I would strongly suggest that you physically assemble an inspiration image binder that you can pick up and take with you and show people, and it exists in a physical form. But if you don't have access to a printer or if it's just not your thing, a Pinterest mood board or a Google document, that'll work too. I want to stress that your inspiration image binder is not a general purpose binder. This is specifically for the shoot that you're about to have, so everything that you put into this binder should relate to the idea that you're going to be executing in the shoot that you're about to have. Your inspiration image binder is going to be your guide for this shoot, and you'll see me reference it throughout the shoot that we're about to have, and it's going to keep you on point. In the class project description, and in the earlier videos, you heard me mention finding images to put in your inspiration image binder, and it could start with something as simple as a Google search for artists that you find interesting or for particular artworks that you think about from time to time. But it also can encompass things like pulling images from magazines or snapping pictures on your phone of something that you happen to see on the street or making your own little sketches, but everything that you put into your inspiration image binder should have a reason for being there. As you're going through looking for images, try to look for images that you find interesting due to pose or mood, or maybe there's some particular motif that you find interesting, color. Anything that you find interesting that plugs into some of the ideas that you want to make this shoot about. Make your own sketches or even detailed drawings to put in your inspiration image binder, and think about how they reference back to some of the artists that you originally Google searched to start this binder. Also, include images of your own previous work in the binder because that's going to give you a jumping off point. If you need a starting point for where to look for images, think about the last time you went to a museum and try to think of something that maybe stood out with you, it could be a vague or a really general topic like Ancient Egypt or Impressionism. Google search for images that would fall into that category. Also feel free to write notes on them. It could be something like why you even are putting this image into your binder or what you find interesting about it, or just a vague thought you had, it could be simply the date that you saw it. What is the purpose of all these images? Well, these are not going to be images that you replicate or that you're emulating when you do your shoot, these are going to be more like starting points and they're going to be something that you can reference back to, to keep yourself on point as you start to do your shoot and things start to move really quickly. Just a quick note about my materials, these magazine cutouts and drawings and printouts of other artists' work, sometimes I hold onto these for a long time before they actually get used. I just put them in a folder, keep it on my shelf, and eventually I can go back through that folder and find something that is relevant for the shoot that I'm about to have. On the other hand, sometimes I draw or search through images or print out other artists' work specifically for the shoot that I'm about to have. The binder itself is, this is just a 11 by 14 Itoya presentation binder. I think it cost $17 at B&H. I've written today's date on here and the shoot that we're having and our location, which is Richard Queens. This is the wardrobe for today's shoot. The section of the shoot that you're going to see me do involves this red fabric. This is what the model is going to be wearing, and we're going to be photographing the model wearing this red fabric on a red background. The model is going to be facing away from us, so I've included an old photograph of my own that has that same mood of the model facing away from us. These aren't in here in any particular order. They don't necessarily need to be as long as you're including images of your own work. Reference images that you're taking out of magazines, other artists' work, and your own sketches. You can put them in here in any order you want. This is a magazine cut out of some fabric that inspired the fabric that we wound up going with. Another magazine cut out of a pose where the model is facing away from us, because again, that's going to be we're doing work by Barrington Helaba here. The pose that we're going to be doing today where the model is facing away from us is a motif that I particularly like because it really has something to do with the vulnerability of the model and our inability to necessarily make a portrait in the sense that we're looking at somebody that we recognize so that we can identify facial features of. These are sketches of mine from life drawing sessions, which I'll talk a little bit more about later on, but I have a bunch of poses that are specifically of a model looking away from us, the viewer. I have several poses of models looking away from us that we can cycle through in the shoot that we're going to do. These are all two or three-minute sketches. This is actually often where some of the ideas for the photos start, is a simple sketch. I tend to draw figures but it doesn't necessarily have to be figures, it could be a still life or just an abstract arrangement of shapes and forms, but I tend to start with a sketch. These are actually pretty important to me. Some magazine cutouts here of an interaction between the garment that the model's wearing and the backdrop. Like I said, we're going to be photographing a model today wearing a red patterned garment on a red backdrop. This is doing something similar, a little bit more complex, but same idea. This is work by Richard Leroy. I talked about his influence on my work a little bit earlier. I think it has a lot to do with the tangibility, the vulnerability of not just the model, but also us as viewers looking at the model. You can see here, he even has quite a few images where the model is looking away from the camera. I wrote some notes here that are just vague ideas of what I find interesting about this image. I wrote; proximity, vulnerability, tangibility, human object, human subject. This again is just a magazine cut out. These are some watercolor studies actually of the particular model who we're going to be photographing today. Three different angles on the same subject. In most cases she's also looking away from me. These are watercolor ink wash. Obviously today we're going to do photographic versions of this, but these are here to provide some context for the image that we are going to be executing. They're based on photos, they're just photos that I had from the shoot that I didn't use for making a woven portrait but I felt that they were worth making a watercolor study [inaudible] that I really knew the lighting situation and I really knew the features of the model well enough. These are watercolor wash and ink wash. They are, I guess artworks in their own right, but I put them into this inspiration image binder because they're very relevant to what we're about to be doing. Even the pose is relevant to what we're about to be doing. These are some older photographs of mine where the model is exposing his back to us. Again, I think it's a portrait, but it's not a portrait in the sense that we're looking at facial features and then able to identify this person as a particular human. The model is going to be wearing a boldly patterned fabric today and even before I knew exactly which fabric she was going to be wrapped in, I knew that the pattern had to be something kind of bold. Even this magazine cut out, which is just meant to advertise some fabrics, I knew that something like this would be contextually important for this shoot. I've held on to this image probably for four or five years and it finally is finding its application. Again, sometimes it takes time, you need to hold onto an image that you find interesting even if you don't exactly know why and in time maybe it becomes apparent. This is another figure drawing that was probably a three or four minutes sketch from a couple of years ago. This isn't at all the pose that we are going to be doing today, but I thought it was important to put into this inspiration image binder because in the course of the figure drawing session, the model hits maybe 25 poses and this model did this kind of really intimate pose. She got down in child's pose, like a yoga child's pose on the stage and put up her hands in this prayer, this interlacing her fingers in a prayer format and almost prostrating herself on the stage. I thought it was so intimate. There was so much vulnerability there that I thought, even though this isn't really the pose that we're going to be doing today, the mood of this sketch was important to have with me during the shoot. The process for getting everything into this binder, all the inspiration images, sketches, the magazine cutouts began probably four weeks before the shoot. Once I had the date for the shoot, I began assembling this binder and that gave me enough time to do it. Again, it's a compilation of printing out images of other artists work from the web, tearing images out of magazines that were maybe more like context or reflected something that I was interested in doing with the shoot. It's also my own sketches. Some of those sketches are more based on pose. Now I want you to start to populate your inspiration image binder. Think about words that you might use to describe the image that you're interested in making and start to filter out those images that you've begun collecting by seeing whether that word or that group of words applies to those images or not. Look at your past work as a group and see which kind of words you would use to describe that group. Now after you've found that initial set of images, think about whether that word that you would use to describe your past group of work would be the same or would apply to the group of images that you've found already. Now use those words whether they're the same or not to form a new filter and weed out some of the images that you might not want to put into your inspiration image binder. Go ahead and create your inspiration image binder and next, we're going to talk about the final piece of the inspiration image binder, which is making a sketch that is particular to the photo that you want to create. 5. Sketching Your Photographs : We've talked about the importance of assembling an inspiration image binder, but one key part of that binder is the sketch that you'll make that's particular to the photo that you want to execute in your photoshoot. One way that I do that is I try to sketch out as precisely as I can what I think the photo should look like. I highly recommend attending a figure drawing session, not only because it's a good way to assemble a collection of interesting poses, but also because it keeps your observation skills sharp which definitely apply to anything photographic. Let's make a sketch of what I think this pose is going to look like. I already have a vague line drawing of what I think this pose is going to look like, but I want to get a little bit more specific than that. A woven portrait is assembled from three separate photographs that are printed out, and then woven physically together. I need three poses that are ultimately going to combine into one. Fortunately, because I have so many figure drawings, I already have an assortment of poses. Let's make a sketch of what this pose should look like. Our model is going to be sitting on the floor, wrapped in fabric, facing away from us. Here are two examples of poses where a model is sitting on the floor and facing away from us. This pose isn't going to be detailed in the sense that it's going to be extremely realistic. It's just going to be detailed in the sense that it gives me something specific to aim for when we're onset. I'm just going to start by making a general shape of somebody seated on the floor, facing away from us. In general face shape, maybe we catch a little bit to the side of the face. Legs are up and some of the fabric and the legs go off to the side like this. Let's make that a little bit more clear. Her hair is going to be back, because in some of these photos, her shoulders are going to be shown and in some of them, they're going to be more covered up by the fabric. The fabric is going to be red. This really doesn't need to be that painstaking. We have the red fabric wrapping her body, shoulders, neck, and head, and her hair is black. Just to make sure that that outline is really visible. I'm going over it with a pen, just to make sure that that outline is really visible, then we'll just say, that's photo number 1. Now photo number 2, maybe like in this sketch here, maybe this time her arm goes out to the side, maybe her foot becomes a little bit more visible. Let's have this second photo. She leans a little bit to the left. Again, the fabric is covering the majority of her body. But this time, more of her shoulders are going to be revealed, so there's going to be a little bit more of a scoop in the shape of the fabric. Then the head moves off to the left a little bit, the hair is back, and her arm becomes visible on the left side. I'm just going to go over that with a heavier pencil, so that the shape is little more obvious. Maybe she faces a little bit more to the left, so that we catch the other side of her face. Let's start with the head this time. We want to catch the other side of her face. We're going to see the left side, so just a hint to the left side of the face here. Then with this photo, even more of her shoulders are going to be revealed, like almost down to the small of the back. The majority of the body is still going to be covered. But this time, that scoop is going to be quite obvious like this. Because this sketch is by no means about details, it's mainly just about the way that the poses should interact with each other, which is mainly because of my process. I'm not really paying attention to details. Nothing here is in proportion, nothing here is anatomically correct. It's just a general shape that gives me something to talk about with my crew, so that we're all seeing the same thing. I chose to align these three poses this way, because I find that generally when I'm making a woven portrait, the images that work the best are the ones where some body features are lined up, like hands and eyes. Or some correspondence between identifiable features happens. In this case, I've tried to line up the base of the skull and the peaks of that scoop shape that the fabric revealing her shoulders is going to make. Hopefully we'll see this actually happen in the resulting images. If we have to modify this a little bit, that's totally fine. Again, everything in your inspiration image binder is not something you're going to replicate. It's the starting point. So even though I'm going to be showing everybody this image and say, "Okay, here's what we're going for," this is by no means what I'm expecting to see in the final result. This is just as specific as I can be right now. As you saw, I took elements from these sketches, and also I've done that with some of these other influences in mind here. Here, again, are these Richard Learoyd photographs, where the model is doing something that is providing a very tight context for what I want to be doing with this photo. You can see even photos that I've done before are reflected here. This photo that we're going to do today should fall in line a little bit with even my own previous work. Again, I think it's a good idea that your inspiration image binder be a physical object, because this is something that you're going to have to show everybody. If you prefer not to do it that way, that's fine. But remember that your inspiration image binder is public for everybody that you're working with. It's your binder, but you're going to have to show it to anybody who's working with you. If you're working with a model, or a stylish, or even just somebody who's helping you with lighting. You're probably going to want to make sure that they see this too. Again, you can put as many images into this binder as you want, as long as each image that's there has a reason for being there. As a quick recap for making your inspiration image binder, remember that this is going to be the binder that's specific to this particular shoot and it's going to be your guide for that shoot. Get an assortment of images, starting with something as simple as a Google image search, tear pages out of magazines, take pictures with your phone, and then ultimately make your own sketches that are going to try to become as specific as possible to what you want to do regarding making an image that fits into what is inspiring you to begin with. Some activities that you might want to do are associating words with your images, and then using those words to filter out images that maybe aren't fitting with the general trend of what you're trying to do. Consider attending life drawing sessions and also try sketching out as specifically as you can, the photo that you want to be taken. Your inspiration image binder does not need to be formal, does not need to be extensive. It's just going to be your roadmap for the shoot that you're about to do. In the next video, we're going to execute a photo that's based on everything that you just saw me talk about. We're going to do it using the talents of my crew in the studio, so let's get to it. 6. On Set: Working With a Crew & Arranging a Form: In this video, we're going to start to make some of the images that we've spent some time now planning. My crew is here, and we're going to go on set to start the process. A key concept that I have already sketched out, but that we're now going to start to execute, is the idea of a form. A form is the general shape that the photograph is going to take. We have to take everything into consideration that contributes to the photograph. That includes lighting, wardrobe, pose, and the angle of the camera itself. These things can be adjusted, but we want to set a general form, at least as a starting point. To do that, we're going to rely on the images in our inspiration image binder. Here's where we get to start being specific with the images that we're making. We're going to put into practice the preparations that we've done beforehand. We're going to work from the inspiration images in our inspiration image binder. We're also going to make some decisions on the ground. We're going to hit on some technical points, but I'm going to be a little bit general about that since this class is about something a little bit bigger, and more universal. We're about to have what I call the pre-game talk, which is basically when, like I said earlier, the inspiration image binder becomes public domain. It's your binder, but it's going to be used to get everybody on the same page. The pre-game talk is when I make sure everybody sees it, everybody's aware of what the goal of the shoot that we're about to have is. As you know from my work before, I like hinting at this idea of the vulnerability, and the proximity of the model, but also how that mirrors back on to the viewer. Images like these are really important to the mood that we're trying to create, and I'll keep these close by because this is super important for us. Here are some studies of Tran from a few months ago. Here are some images from last time. This pose where she's looking away is maybe one of the jumping off points to what we're doing today. This is the shot that I think is going to be our initial starting point. We're going to try to go for something like this. The red garment with the shoulders becoming more exposed between each of the three shots that are going to make up the final image. This light is balanced. It's giving us a very good rich image of this tripod, which is our stand-in while Tran is getting styled by Lee. The balanced exposure was F8.0, which is giving us a little bit too deep of a depth of field. I'd prefer something a little bit thinner than that, maybe more like around an F4, so we're going to turn down the brightness on this light. For this vision, I'm going to be rather close to our model Tran. We're probably going to be framing her from where she's seated to just above the head. This is a 85-millimeter lens which means to get that shot, I'm probably going to have to be about six feet away, 5.5-6 feet away, something like that. There should be just enough fall-off between where the focal plane is and the end of her body as it moves away from the camera, that the end of her body should be a little bit blurry. That, in this process is important because when we combine the three images to make the woven portrait, those differences in levels of focus due to depth of field will have a very nice, very interesting visual effect. The wardrobe in this case came from previous shoots when I'd had models, including Tran, wear heavily patterned outfits but then also combining that with a little bit of exposed skin, and a more simplified background. But I noticed that the heavily pattern garments when applied to my process of making woven portraits had a very abstract and very interesting visual effect on their own outside of what the portrait was doing. This red fabric, this is coming from the idea of that, but also I knew that the richness of the red background would interact with this red fabric in a very overwhelming way. So that was the idea behind this fabric. Deciding on the wardrobe is like anything else in your inspiration image binder. It should play along with whatever else is happening in your work. Picking an interesting garments for the sake of the model, wearing an interesting garments, that's not really as effective as it should be, that's only 50 percent. I think that the wiser thing to do would be to pick a garment that contributes to your ideas. Lee is adding some oil to Tran's skin in order to make the skin really pop. We only have a limited space in which to make Tran feel like a fleshy, tangible person. So this oil is meant to be a little bit overdone in that respect, it should make the skin really shiny to the way that the camera is going to see it. I'll take a minute to mention the gear that we're using and why. This is a Canon 5DS R. It's a little bit clunky of a camera. Most people probably prefer the Mark IV, but the 5DS R produces a 50 megapixel file which when you're printing large format, which I'm going to be, is definitely preferred. So it's like it's not a very easy to drive camera, but it produces the resolution that I need to make a big print. This is an 85-millimeter 1.2 ultrasonic lens. Well, I usually use this lens whenever there's a portrait involved because it allows me to keep the right distance from somebody so that, like I said earlier, there's usually a pretty pleasant amount of depth of field falloff between the closest part of the person's body, and the farthest part of the person's body as the camera sees it. Secondly, also there's almost no distortion. So the image that you're seeing through the lens is approximately what you're seeing with your eyes. For those of you who are interested, or who are maybe a little bit farther along in photography, I just want to make sure to mention that not falling in love with your gear is a pretty good idea, especially when you're taking pictures based on ideas rather than on a consistent commercial basis. I rent all my equipment, well, almost all of my equipment, because it allows me the flexibility to have the right tools for the project that I'm about to do as opposed to being stuck with some format that I've been working with forever. A lot of photographers tend to fall in love with their camera, and they get stuck seeing that way. So I usually rent the gear, I always have the most updated maintenance-free equipment. Well, another tip for shooting whenever you're working with people, is to make sure they all see the image that you're seeing. As you, maybe after five or 10 photos, stop shooting, and make sure everybody onset sees what you're seeing, so that they can adjust what they're doing based on real data, so they can see what it is about the photo that needs to be improved, and what they can do about that. Secondly, I think that it's easy to forget that the photographer runs the show when you're in the studio, but it's also the photographer's job to make sure that everyone's comfortable. So I like to keep the dialogue going even if the specifics of what I'm saying at that moment aren't crucial. I think it's good that everybody's talking, and we're constantly bouncing communication off of each other. Setting up the form is your opportunity to start to become specific, so you need to make sure that everything is doing exactly what you want. This is before we start actually shooting in series which we're going to do next. You're not aiming to replicate the image that's in your inspiration image binder. This is just a starting point, this is just the parameters for the shots that you're taking, so that the shots that you end up with link back to your initial ideas in your initial inspiration. What we're seeing on the camera, and the form that Tran is in right now, is not exactly what's in the binder, it's referencing that. Now that the form is established, and my crew is here, and we're all in a rhythm, we're going to start shooting in series. Then we'll probably make some little adjustments as we go. 7. On Set: Shooting in Series & Making Adjustments: In this video, we're going to talk about shooting in series and making adjustments as we go. The only two concepts that I need to start off by explaining are two that are probably pretty basic, there's angle and adjustment. The angle is simply the angle that the camera is capturing the subject from. An adjustment is an adjustment to either lights, wardrobe, styling, or the pose, but slight enough that it doesn't alter the overall form. We spent the last video establishing the overall form, and we're going to keep that, we're not going to change that, but we are going to make some adjustments. Few of the basic tools that we're going to use today which can make an adjustment without altering the form are tools that are really simple, reflector panel which [inaudible] can use to manipulate the fill light. We have gaff tape which we can use to manipulate pretty much anything. But we're probably going to end up using it for the garment since these three shots, as you saw me illustrate in the sketch earlier, the three images that I need are almost the same except there's going to be some slight adjustments to the pose and the nature of the garments. Trance shoulders will be more or less exposed depending on the shot, so that means we're going to spend a lot of time manipulating the garment. Now we're going to shoot in a series, and we're going to make those little adjustments as we go. I think it's good to resist the urge to make a lot of adjustments, a lot of changes to the form for one shot, and then reset everything. It's much more productive to make little changes as you go into a shoot in series, so that's what we're about to do. I'm going to shoot in series, but I'm going to be looking for different angles on this pose. Then after I do maybe five or six angles, we'll make some adjustments and look at the images. Right there, [inaudible] Come in a little bit closer, [inaudible] can you get the hair just a little bit out of her chin, so I can see the profile of her chin? Can you just put that up on top of the bun? [inaudible] Yeah, there you go. Check it out, Tran. This is what we're seeing. They're very shiny. I see. It's nice. I'm going to do just a couple more angles, and then we're going to lower the fabric down a little bit so that more [inaudible] We're going to change the garment a little bit, and maybe, something more in this category where you're almost leaning forward and dropping your head down. We're not going to put the hand on top of the head because that would change too much, but your legs can come forward a little bit more. Yeah, and then it's just I feel more of the shoulders. Well, I've worked with Tran before, so regarding how I talk with models, I think with somebody else, it might be a little bit different. But generally, I try to identify parts of the body that can be bending points. Like I just said to Tran a minute ago, bend with the base of your spine and tilt your head forward. It's nothing too sophisticated, but I think it's good to be clear about what part of the body needs to be the hinge. Because if you say to somebody, "Look left," there's three different ways that somebody can look left. They can look with their eyes, they can look with their head, or they can turn the whole body. One way around, that is just to be super specific. But again, I've worked with Tran a few times now, and so I think we are a little bit more on the same wavelength than maybe some photographers would be. We transitioned Tran from a more seated upright image with her legs going a little bit further out to the right, and then she's going to be leaning a little bit more forward with the base of her spine, and her head's tilted forward so that we're looking up at the back of her skull. We're going close now. Tran lean even more forwards, overdo it a little bit. Yeah, and then tilt your head forward so that I'm looking at the back of your skull. A little bit more forwards, there you go. A little bit to your right, there it is. We should end up with the legs going both directions. Because at first, it was going this way, then it was more just 10 degrees off. Now it's going to be clearly going to the left, so we'll have the lump of where the legs are simultaneously in the image. Tran, can you lean forward even more than you just were? At this time, to get the head out of that arc, maybe tilt it back to the left. Well, I think we got several angles on all three of the photos that I wanted to capture, which we will then use to plug into the rest of my process in the next video. But for this, for what we just did, we worked through some adjustments to the form and shot in series, making little adjustments between each of those shots and making sure everybody was on the same page as far as what I was seeing when the images were coming off of the camera. We moved from variation on the same pose to two different variations on the pose. While doing that, we adjusted the garment, we made some slight adjustments to the skin and to the hair, and what else did we do? We changed the position of the legs so that in the resulting combined image, which will be the mockup for the woven portrait, we should see the legs on the left side and on the right side simultaneously. Because my process requires essentially compositing three images, I need a lot of options, and that's why the concept of shooting the same form from different angles is really important for me. So I tried to do a sweep of four or five images from maybe waist level, and then I stood up and did a sweep of four and five images from maybe just below my shoulder level. We should have maybe 10 angles on each pose that we just did and that was all within the same form. You'll notice that other than changing a few things with fill light, we didn't really have to adjust the lights. We kept the strobe where it was the whole time. We made no changes to the general pose, we made no changes to the garment, everything was contained within the form. I think even outside of photography, the idea of executing a form, executing different variations of particulars within the form applies Like you can try to make different versions of the same idea and giving yourself different options within a general idea. I think that tends to be how a lot of different artists work not just photographers. People will spend years on a certain format of painting or a certain format of printmaking. Basically, it's about filling in the possibilities within that format before moving on to something else. I think we've got enough images to work with from that form. We're going to take a look at the results now. I should be able to pick some images that are good technically, and be able to make some mockups from those. Then ultimately, that will allow me to decide which photos are worth printing and turning into a physical piece of artwork. 8. Reviewing & Selecting Photos: Well, we've now had our shoot and we have some images on the computer. It's time to take a look at the images and evaluate them technically to make sure that the ones that we end up using to make the artwork technically good, and then we can evaluate them on static and mood levels to make sure that they're doing everything that we need to. For my particular process, I need to make mockups of physical pieces of artwork, which requires me to pick three images that overlay on top of each other in an interesting way, like I showed you in the sketch and some of the other images in the inspiration image binder. For some of you, this might be the last step. You might find three good images and they reflect what your inspiration image binder guided you to nicely, and that's fine. But since my process goes a little bit beyond the contours of this class, I want to at least take it to the step of showing you what the final piece of artwork will look like. Then I'll eventually make that piece of artwork physically and I'll post a photo of that piece of artwork, but that's a couple months away. Let's take a look at the images that we have here. I'm using Adobe Bridge. Some of you might use Preview or Lightroom, any image evaluating software is totally fine. I just prefer Bridge because this allows me to compare images side-by-side and zoom in on parts to make sure that they're in focus and all that. If you remember, we took three different versions of the same form essentially. I have all of them here. The first thing I'm going to do is I'm just going to go through and make sure that they're all in focus in critical areas. So like these, for example, these hairs on the back of the neck. You can see here that this particular image isn't quite in focus. Which happens, that's totally fine. That sometimes happens when you're using a prime lens, especially one that you're shooting at. I think I was shooting at F3.5 or F5.0 in this case, the depth of field is really shallow so there's going to be some images that even though they look good, when you look at them as a whole, you zoom in and find out that they're not quite in focus. It's just too bad, but that's fine. The images that are looking good, like this one you can see here the hairs are super sharp. I'm going to give this one a star, and you see a star appear under the file, this one was the one that some of the hairs were out of focus so I'm not going to star that one. I'm just going to go through and do that to make sure that they are technically usable because I definitely don't want to end up using an image that's out of focus. Like this one is not quite at the level of focus that I want it to be so I'm going to let that one go. I've filtered out all of the images that were just a little bit out of focus. That's the first criterion and disqualifiers for images that I'm just not going to use, which it turned out it was almost half actually and were just a little bit off and not really worth investing in, especially when it comes to making a large format print. It's just not worth it. I'm going to take out all of these images here, because these images, well, I do like them, these were before we decided to get a little bit closer. I only have this farther back version of the form for the first version. I don't have it for the other two. These are nice photos, but they're just not going to work for what we're doing. I'm going to eliminate these and now we have only 21 photos to work with out of the 64 that we started with. Not too bad. Now, I'm going to look basically for images that stand out as a group, which means that I'm going to pull an image from the first version of the form, the second version of the form and the third image of the form and try to find a group that might make an interesting combination. I'm going to make a little digital mockup of that combination in Photoshop. Let's take a look at this first version of the form that I think goes from this file to this one. You can see here she started to lean to the right. We have 10 images in the first version. This first one actually looks nice. I like how she's occupying the majority of the width of the frame. Very clearly, this one too. Let's try pairing this one with maybe not that one, may be this one in the second version of the form because you can see here that her shoulders lineup and her head is going in a very different direction in the second version than in the first. Let's pair those two together and then let's pull from the third version of the form, which was when she was looking down into the left and you can see the knees going off to the left here. I want to look for that continuation of the shoulders lining up trend. You can see this one's pretty good. Maybe not quite as lined up. That one's a little bit better. That one's not as good. That one's not as good, not as good. It's going to be this first one. These three make a nice combination. I don't know if this is necessarily going to be the best combination, but let's try making a digital mockup of these three and Photoshop just to see how they look. 9. Making a Mockup: I'm going to open all three of these. It's actually going to probably take me to Adobe Camera Raw because these are raw files. Ordinarily, if we're doing this for real, we would edit these in Raw, which is what you do in Lightroom. But we're just going to skip this for now because we're just making a rough mock-up. We're not actually really editing these files right now. Like I said, the 5DS R makes pretty big files. You can see that these are really massive 50 megapixel files, so it takes the computer a little while to handle them. But we have all three of our files here in Photoshop now. I'm just going to zoom out a little bit so you can see each of them equally. This is really easy. Making a digital mock-up sounds fancy, but it's super easy. I'm simply going to copy the first one and paste it onto the third one. You can see it makes a new layer. Then I'm going to copy the second one and paste it onto the third one. You can see now I have three layers over here. So we're almost done. I'm going to make the first layer. I'm going to change the opacity to 40 percent. Then I'm going to take the second layer and change the opacity to 40 percent. You can see here this composite file is a reflection of all three of the photos simultaneously. This is a digital mockup of the physical woven portrait, which I would then make in reality. Now, I don't know if this is necessarily going to be the best one. Let's make one more or two more before I decide whether this is the image that's ultimately worth printing. It's doing some interesting things. You can see these hairs are making this really nice pencil lines here. The bun that her hair was in is the point where the heads come together. I like that. You can see that it actually does already start to mimic the drawing that we had. That scoop of the pink garment falling down on the back isn't quite going as extreme as I was hoping it would, but that's just the reality of shooting. We couldn't get the garment to go quite that far without having to reset the wardrobe. I'm going to save this. Just to keep things clear, I can just call this version 1. We'll save it as a JPEG file so that it doesn't eat up too much space on my hard drive. We'll make a folder called mockups and we'll just dump it in there as a JPEG and quality 10 is fine. We know that those three make an interesting combination. Now, I'm going to look for maybe a couple more. Here are three mockups using the images that we just took of trend. You can see that they're falling pretty close to how I was hoping they would. Now, we just have to pick which one is the most interesting because that'll be ultimately the artwork that we create in reality. So this is just a mockup. I'm looking closely at where things overlap, like the bun of the hair and the way that the shoulders play off of each other. I think that of these three, I can probably find something to at least eliminate one. I think if I had to eliminate one right off the bat, I think I'm going to eliminate this one because the scale of the heads is really different. You can see that this area right here where the majority of the photo has fallen on the backdrop, you can see that the head is a lot bigger than the other two. That's mockup 3. I think I'm going to go ahead and take that one out. Now I have the choice between this one and this one. I'm actually drawn between these two. I think I like the way that this line here lines up with the curve of the fabric. I really like these pencil line, hair is falling down on the skin and how contrasty it gets in here. I think probably I am going to go with the first version, the original one that I made. Those three files that comprise this image that you're seeing here, I'm going to go back and actually edit those files in Adobe Camera Raw. Then edit those files and prep them for printing in Photoshop. Then those will be printed out in a large format, probably 25 inches by 33 inches something like that, on pieces of vellum. Then those pieces of vellum will be cut up and physically woven together into a woven portrait. That's going to take a few months. That's going to happen after this class is done being filmed, obviously. When that piece of art is complete, I'll take a photo of it and I'll post it to Skillshare, and I'll put it on my social media and you can see how this translates to the physical reality. But the important thing here is that this image more or less does actually reference back to this sketch that we made. It looks pretty close. It's doing the majority of the things that I hope it would. This sketch is the results of gathering all of the things that were influencing my work into a single source, this inspiration image binder, and basically using this as my guide in the shoot that you saw me execute. In the editing process, I'm not going to change the basic nature of the photo. I might change the levels a little bit so that it's a little bit darker. I might increase the contrast in some really select areas like around those pencil lines of the hair just so they'd jump out a little bit more. I might just touch up a few things here and there. Make sure that the hair in the darker parts is still light enough that it can print on vellum without causing the ink to puddle up. But the basic nature of the photo isn't really going to change. I've been doing this for a while now, so I think the work is fairly consistent at this point in terms of fitting into those categories of description. But I think that I'm satisfied that this work seems to have aesthetic value. It seems to be moody and mysterious enough that I would feel comfortable investing in printing this and actually spending the time to cut it up and weave it together. But that's definitely a good, I think, way to tie this last part of the process back into the beginning. It's just to make sure that you'd still describe it in the way that you want your work to be seen. Now that I've chosen one of the three mockups to actually produce in reality, I think it's a good time to mention that you shouldn't become too sentimentally attached to your images. In choosing these three mockups, it's not that I disliked the other two. I do think they're quite nice, but sometimes I've noticed that people really tend to become attached to it and they resist the necessity of making a choice between images because they feel obligated to one of the earlier versions. Try not to think that way. It's really a time black hole. I think you should go with your gut and choose the one that seems to be the most interesting. This one seems to be the clear decision for me anyway because of all of the things that I mentioned. Even though I don't dislike the other. I should also mention that usually I do this process days or even weeks after the shoot so that I can see the images with fresh eyes. You see me do this right after we do the shoot but in your practice, it might be good to wait a few days at least before you actually go back and then look at the photos that you took during the shoot. Just so you see things without the bias of having just been there doing the shoot itself. So to recap, be critical of your photos on a technical level first. If something's not working technically, it's not worth investing any more time in as much as you might like the image. Then evaluate your images on an aesthetic level. This is a good opportunity to once again go back to that inspiration image binder, take a look through and see which ones are jumping out at you as far as their relationship, back to the mood, or the aesthetics or even some of those descriptive words that you were using earlier on to try to place your work in context. Which of those images are actually relating back into this inspiration image binder? Which of those images could you pull out and put into the binder itself? So now it's your turn to take a look through your photos from the photo shoot that you just had and decide which ones are the best for meeting the goals of your inspiration image binder. Pick out those images. If this isn't the end of your process, if there's some other step after like in my process, evaluate them on the level of how do they plug into that process. But either way, pick the ones that are working best for you. Pick the best three. Post them to the class project section. Also post three of your inspiration images. Maybe one of those inspiration images should be one of your sketches that leads into the photos that you ultimately took. In the next video, we will wrap up and we'll summarize the key takeaways from this class. 10. Conclusion: In this class, we covered gathering inspiration. We executed a high deliberate shoot. We made adjustments on the ground depending on our shooting situation and you went through those images and picked out the ones that related most closely back to your original direction. The purpose of all this has been to make photography that goes beyond the traditional aesthetic boundaries of the medium. When you make fine art photography, that means you have to be deliberate with how you plug your ideas into the images that ultimately gets seen by viewers. Some of the key things that I hope you take away from this class are, firstly, that inspiration is not a light bulb that goes off in your head and suddenly you know what you want to do, it's something you build up over time and have it ready when you need it. I hope you take away from this the practice of assembling and inspiration image binder every time you have photographic shoot. But also for any project that requires you falling back on your own ideas, whether you're doing this for graphic design or whether you're doing this for painting or maybe even if you're a composer, I want you to take away this practice of physically assembling your ideas into something that you can bring with you. If you are having a photographic shoot though, remember that your inspiration image binder is your guide for that shoot, and I want you to be specific with what you want from your shoot, or if you're a graphic designer, or if you're a painter, I want you to be specific with what you want out of your own ideas. Remember that good enough is not good enough. You should be specific and deliberate with what you want in your results. But as you saw from my shoot, you need to keep in mind that you're going to have to make adjustments as needed. But finally, evaluate your results with the rest of your process in mind. This might mean considering what you're going to do next with the image. Whether you're plugging it into a page layout or whether it's a reference photo for a painting. The key to solidifying all of this is to do it yourself. I encourage you to do the class project and post your results to the Skillshare class, and I also encourage you to post your results on social media, tag Skillshare, and also tag me. I am extremely interested to see what you come up with, what you're interested in and also the process for how you got those results. Well, I hope you've enjoyed this class. Hopefully, we'll be making more like it. I hope that you've taken from this class a framework for channeling your ideas into photographic results. I hope that I'll be seeing you in another Skillshare class soon and that you now have a stronger sense of what it means to make photography that functions in the art context.