Shoot: Kate & Jesse. Engaged.
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Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Underneath threatening skies, met up with Kate & Jesse at one of my favourite spots, and after the prerequisite warnings about awkwardness, they found their inner-GQ, straddling benches, wading through soggy fenlands and laying on a gravel track, they definitely suffered for their awesomeness... and if this turns out to be a segway wedding, I'm totally taking the credit for that... it's the price I demand for ruining a pair of socks.

Kate & Jesse. Engaged. from Steve Bowman on Vimeo.


I was really happy with this shoot for some reason. Technically, and even aesthetically it wasn't much different from others I've done recently however, so I'm not sure why. One change I made was adapting some of the presets I use as starting places for images, which went from tweaking to creating a couple of totally new ones; I think these subtle changes were exciting to make.

Presets in LR can be a blessing a curse. Firstly, they save you time. A sh!t load of time. For the first full season of shooting weddings, everything I did was in CS5 (that's a version of Photoshop, n00b). Despite killing myself in editing, it still took a solid two days to get done with the first wave of pictures from a wedding. I know that's still meteorically fast, but we're being relative here.. the switch to LR turned that into a matter of hours, instead of days..

The presets I use are constantly evolving however, and so the list gets longer and longer. As I don't use purchased sets, they're all organized by the type of shot they are designed for. This isn't just whether it's black and white or colour, but has evolved into different groups based on urban-based shoots, winter-shoots without much greenery, down to those that suit overcast skies etc..

It may seem like hyper-organization, but it saves an incredible amount of time, and expeditious service and delivery is one of the hallmarks of the business.

The trap is that you need to balance having a style (and undeniably, a photographer's post-processing is a major aspect here) and between making everything look the same. The question is who does it look the same to? Also, does it really matter if it does?

Obviously we're selected by potential clients based upon you work... is it really fair if the work you produce for them is so diverse and wildly different that it might as well have been done by another person? Of course that's a rhetorical question, partly because once again I'm sure no one will ever really read this who would care to answer, but it does play into the second part...

Only one person really looks at every set of work I do who has skin in the game... my clients will each value their own set of pictures, but I'm the only one who sees and evaluates every set, and the longer things go on, the more I do, the more it weighs on me whether I'm evolving as a photographer, or just churning out the same stuff.

As a form of art, a photographer always has to be accountable to themselves first and foremost. It's hard to value your work, and through it, yourself, if it feels stale. Yet due to the amount of work I take on, it's difficult to take time to evaluate what I produce and try and expand upon it. All the while, you have to stay true to your brand and your product. An example would be when Coca-Cola changed their recipe...there was outrage. I'm pretty sure the CEO of Coke doesn't hold his professional self-worth in how Coke tastes, however.

Of course all of this could just be me overthinking again, and overstating the meaning of what I do.

It could also be a short piece of rambling to pretty up another blog post...

It's probably both.

However, if all it takes is a couple of newly designed LR presets to keep me happy, I'd say life is pretty good.

Lessons from this however? When you do apply a preset or action, play with it a little. You may get some really nice results which you should remember to save... don't just move on to the next shot and let a new resource go to waste.

Also, I'll judge you as a photographer if you call yourself creative and don't use presets and actions that you designed yourself.