by Skip cohen
Twenty-three years ago, Don Blair and I wrote a book together, Don Blair's Guide to Posing and Lighting Body Parts. Working with our good buddies, the other two Musketeers, Tony Corbell and Terry Deglau, we shot all the images for the book in Las Vegas. Of course, this was all pre-digital, so the storyboards were taped to the wall, and as we completed each page, the Polaroids were added to the illustrations.
There are few projects from my career that make me smile as much as this one. It was a lot of hard work, but the four of us were the very best of friends, and the energy, the laughs, and the success of creating each page made it an incredible memory-maker - perfect for Throwback Thursday!
Parts of today's posts are from the SCU archives, but there's a definite reason for sharing the two pages I chose below.
Click on either page to enlarge in the SCU Lightbox
There are too many of you who know virtually nothing about lighting. You call yourself "natural light specialists," suggesting it's a talent to always go with available light. But it's so easy for you to learn more about lighting with one goal - to exceed client expectations and make yourself habit-forming,
I was looking through "Life's Little Instruction Book, Volume II" and I found this piece of advice...
916. Learn the rules. Then break some.
Most of you never knew Don Blair. He used to tell people, "You have to know the rules before you can break them!" His favorite "rules" were about lighting and posing. He respected the rules because they represented the primary tools he had to create flattering images of his subjects. The rules were all about his ability to exceed expectations...EVERY time. Remember, there was no Photoshop for Don...he couldn't take twenty pounds off a subject in post-production. He had to rely on his skill as an artist and get it right in camera!
I apologize for the quality of the scans; these are from an old copy of the book we did together. However, there's enough here to help you understand my point. Every image on those two pages is exactly the way they looked...right out of the can.
Now, think about your work. It's holiday time, and most of you will be in a position at some time to capture a few portraits. So take the time to pay attention to your lighting, posing, exposure and composition. And going into the new year, learn everything you can do with your skill set, before post-processing. It'll not only save you time, but you'll elevate your work as an artist and be on your way to becoming habit-forming to your clients.
And...when you need to break the rules, for whatever reason, you'll have the incredible satisfaction of understanding them and elevating your work to becoming one of the great portrait artists. Every artist can break the rules; the key is to know them first!
Happy Throwback Thursday!
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.