I have to brag on my editor here. Dude. Has. Game. And yeah, I’m also bragging on my senior model, Anna from Sparkman High School. She is a natural!
I’m not, however, bragging on myself.
This isn't a typical "out of the camera" shot from me. That should please my clients and surprise my photographer friends (who think this probably IS my typical OOC result! :) ). This shot wasn't intended to be edited, posted, or even LOOKED at--by anyone. Even myself!
This was supposed to be a "test shot." I was balancing the exposure at this tricky time of the evening--dusk--when the light is rapidly decreasing and camera and studio strobe settings are constantly having to be tweaked. It's a negotiation between making sure the strobes are lighting Anna nicely and making sure the camera has the ambient light covered. Obviously, there isn't enough of Anna's face being lit on the left-hand shot below. Usually these shots are sure throw-aways, because I know the exposure isn't correct yet. And also because I know that the subject isn't paying much attention, since I told them that "these shots don't count, so you can just relax."
So yeah, Anna knew these were test shots. But she didn't relax. I don't know if she was just trying some new expressions, new poses, or what. I really wasn't paying much attention to her at the time, but whatever it was she was trying....worked! I just happened to be scrolling through my test shots--likely to check some random setting--when this shot caught my eye.
After I regained consciousness and got up off the ground, I told her...."Keep doing whatever you were doing in this shot!" ...as I showed her and her mom the screen on the back of my camera. But by then, we already had this shot--the shot that didn't count. The shot that no one was supposed to see. But thanks to my friend on the other side of the country, it would be the shot I couldn't wait to share.
By the way, this wasn't Anna's senior portrait session. It was just a typical "warm up shoot" that I like to do with my Couture Senior Models to get them comfortable in front of the camera. Regardless of the kind of shoot it is though, I don't normally send my editor photos to edit until I have gone through them, culled out the best ones, and sifted through those to get to the 'cream of the crop.' But this picture had grabbed my attention at the actual shoot when I just happened to notice Anna's amazing pose and even more amazing facial expression. And despite the fact that the lighting on her was very under-exposed, I knew that this shot was going to be a special one. I didn't hesitate that night after this shoot to go straight to this singular, underexposed photo, single it out, and export it to a shared folder on Dropbox where all of those 'cream of the crop' shots will later go.
And on the other side of this shared folder is......
".....THE GUY BEHIND THE GUY, BEHIND THE GUY"
($1 to whoever guesses this obscure movie reference).
Yes, he's amazing. And no, my dear photographer friends, I'm not going to tell you who he is! :p But yes, my dear current and future clients, I use a professional retoucher. I'm not talking about using Photoshop. That's a professional photo retouching application. I use a human being, who is an amazing, talented artist. And, dear client, he is the one responsible for making your pictures, or your son's or daughter's pictures, absolutely gorgeous. Sure, I had a hand in it too, but let's just say that I bake the cake, and my editor puts the icing on it. I used to do my own editing, color correcting, and retouching. Then I realized that, hey, I'm a photographer. Let's let someone else more capable than I be the editor.
Regardless, the important take-away here is this: Sometimes the expected throwaways end up being unexpected keepers, so make sure you take nothing for granted. It could be a seemingly meaningless moment with a loved one that you will later cherish as one of your favorite memories. It could be someone at school or at church that is nothing like the rest of your friends, and later becomes one of the most important people in your life. And certainly, it could be a photograph that starts out as a snapshot swimming in a sea of cell phone pics and snapchats, but ends up telling your story--that "throwaway" that turned into your treasure.