L J Zuber Photography is currently assisting in the development of college student, Danny Clewes. Danny is seventeen and currently studying media, photography and business at Holmes Chapel Comprehensive while building his own photography business alongside. Danny has been taking time to do some work experience with me by taking on themed tasks and learning about his experience through each project.
PROJECT SIX: TEXT AND IMAGE
For this project, I was in Cyprus and because my task was to add text onto the image, I wanted to try and create a postcard theme which captured Cyprus. So I decided to take images of landscapes, sunsets and animals as these were on common postcards you would find here.
I like all of the images which I’ve taken for this project because I thought that the colours and composition were great therefore I didn’t think I needed to do a lot of cropping or editing. It was more a case of positioning where I wanted to place my font and adapt the size of it so that the quotes didn’t get in the way of the photograph.
It was tricky at first to get the right font because I wanted to use a website where I could download more custom and specialised fonts and place them into Photoshop that way but when I did this, the font looked very low quality and blurry so I decided to use the fonts that were on Photoshop and they worked very well and it was easy to position and adjust so it was fit for purpose.
I decided that for the quotes, I wanted to focus on song lyrics such as Fields of Gold or quotes from books such as Slow and Steady Wins the Race. For the rest of the quotes, I made up the captions in order to convey a message such as Love Comes in Many Forms or just to add to the postcard theme of my photographs. I didn’t really take any reference from other photographers or films I also tried to get the right font for each picture, some were more fun and some were more contemporary style.
I’m not sure if I would work too much with graphics which are incorporated into my photography again but I think I found it more difficult than my previous tasks because I don’t really use graphics very much. However having said that, I believe that this technique gave my images even more of a story to them which contained deeper meanings therefore thought my work did look successful.
I have fond memories of studying this topic during college and was excited to see the work that Danny produced.
By the late 1970s and early 1980s combining words and photographs had become a genre of art photography with wide and varied practice, ranging from simply writing on photographs to the first experiments with digital collaging of word and image. At the same time, the photograph had long outstripped the word as the mass media’s choice of descriptive system. We’ve all heard of the phrase ‘a photograph speaks a 1,000 words’.
During my project I studied PostSecret which is an ongoing community mail art project, created by Frank Warren in 2005, in which people mail their secrets anonymously on a homemade postcard. Selected secrets are then posted on the PostSecret website, or used for PostSecret’s books or museum exhibits. I found it fascinating that what we see determines our view despite knowing very little about the depth of the picture (hello, Photoshop, fake news and photojournalism). I’m someone who is biased towards portraiture, therefore I took images of my family and paired them with quotes I’d observed them saying.
I appreciate that Danny therefore chose to take landscape photographs of scenery and things he’d observed on holiday in Cypus. Danny’s strength is clearly in landscape and animal photography, he has a natural eye for seeing something while out on a walk and capturing that moment in time. I think it was an excellent idea to use the holiday theme and pair it with creating postcards and using song lyrics, especially as music is something we all relate to and like photography, becomes a shared passion and a memory.
Next time I would advise Danny to look into other photographers or film makers for his work, I learnt a lot from observing how creatives before me used specific ideas and techniques to develop their ideas. Inspiration can go a long way towards expanding work.
Otherwise, I admire that Danny has been strengthening his Photoshop usage and didn’t use the same font and style through each image. Photoshop can be a monster to tackle and he appears to be learning it very well, a skill that’s adaptable through many different careers.
I particularly like the Fields of Gold image. There’s strong correlation of the theme, text and his choice of lyrics. I love his use of shadows, depth of field, colour and the angle he’s taken it from. Danny once again has proven to take any task and turn it into a beautiful set of images.
PROJECT FIVE: THE PASSING OF TIME
For this task I wanted to explore the Passing Of Time in different ways such as through the use of day and night, old and young and time to express how we’re all on a journey. I have chosen these pictures because I think that they all tell a different story and really show the different ways how time passes.
I had experimented with longer exposure for the motorway shot in order to capture the light trails from the cars, it was the first time I had done this properly so although it wasn’t perfect, I was really happy with the result. I cropped the image so the motorway was running straight through the centre of the image therefore creating a leading line. This was something which photographers such as Bill Brandt and Fay Godwin had done in order to make the composition look more visually appealing. I also had adjusted the colour by adding more contrast in order to capture more of the sunset colours around the cloudy sky.
For my image of the clock, I had also cropped it so that it was positioned in the centre so that the picture became symmetrical and I achieved this by using the rule of thirds grid on Photoshop. I had also straightened the image slightly because the original picture looked a bit lob-sided. I also had put it in monochrome to enhance the tones and shadows of the hands of the clock.
My sunset image only had a small adjustment which was enhancing the contrast a touch so that the light appeared ever so slightly darker and showed even clearer the passing of time from day to night.
My favourite images of this project was the two sheep silhouettes. I wanted to also show the contrast between young and old with the mother sheep and the lamb. The contrast between the orange glow of the sunset and the silhouette looked amazing. I had cropped one of them so that all you could see was the lamb running but on the other one, I had mainly adjusted the sunset colour a touch just like in the previous sunset image.
I would say that this has been one of my more experimental projects but I enjoyed it as it was a very broad theme which challenged me but enabled me to work with a variety of subject matters and look at the multitude of ways to show the passing of time.
Once again Danny has captured some wonderful images, he has used a variety of lighting styles and been braver with his editing techniques.
I asked Danny to consider clocks, daylight, night, ageing, weather, time lapse, travel, movement, crowds assembling and dispersing. Thinking about time in photography is key when capturing a day like a christening or a wedding and in any category of photography when it comes to capturing light and movement.
I suggested perhaps capturing a scene at several times in a day with the use of timer and shutter speed. Researching photographers who have recreated childhood photographs or taken self-portraits to show ageing and to look at flip books of movement and painting with light. Photography with movement such as sports or transportation is also key when adjusting your camera and shooting styles.
I loved the photographs of the lambs in shadows, they are truly stunning images that show real sense of aperture and shutter speed control. I also feel they tell the story of spring and the changing seasons and movement of nature over time.
Danny has considered the famous ‘Golden Hour’ among photographers and found the perfect time of day where the sun naturally casts the perfect glow. I also greatly appreciated how he drew from other photographers for inspiration.
Perhaps next time I would recommend that his next project had a consistent story running throughout, each image is beautiful on its own but as a project I would struggle to find the consistent theme without previously knowing it was referring to time, the images together don’t build a story.
However, monthly I see Danny’s sense of confidence and control over his work improve and grow stronger. His dedication to his passion and work even when away from education is commendable and gives me no doubt that he will succeed in not only his talent for photography, but for his passion to drive himself forward.
PROJECT FOUR: SHOOT A FRIEND
Throughout this Photoshoot, I wanted to capture my model in natural expressions such as laughter, happiness and thoughtfulness.
I wanted to have a green background such as a garden for this shoot as I felt that this contrasted well with the model. I didn’t really have any lighting difficulties outside however I did have to lower the exposure because some of my images were overexposed. I took my photographs at a variety of angles as this was something I hadn’t done very much in my previous projects.
Because I specialise in nature and landscape photography, doing portrait photography is a bit different for me but I had enjoyed it! Although I did try to keep the shoot as natural as possible and I tried to refrain from asking my model to pose as I didn’t want the expressions that I captured to seem forced. For example, for the photographs of her laughing, I had told her a joke in order to get that particular expression. Despite portrait photography not being my speciality, I would definitely do more portrait shots again.
For the editing process, I had experimented with different tools such as the vignette in order to darken some of the edges to draw more attention to the focal point of the model’s face.
I had also desaturated some of my images to create a different mood to them and enhance the tones. I had also experimented with highlights in order to darken parts of the image which I felt looked too overexposed and create more visual weight between the lighter and darker tones.
However for other images, I didn’t feel that this was necessary so for some of the images I had simply cropped them down slightly so that the model was positioned in the centre of the picture which in turn made the composition look a lot better.
For one, putting effort into shooting your friends reminds you to focus on truly seeing the things that are familiar to you. It’s a constant challenge of being a photographer—to avoid becoming blind to what you see repeatedly. You need to notice those details that most people overlook. And it’s surprisingly easy to overlook the people you see most often!
So, when you endeavour to photograph your friends, you’ll push yourself to keep noticing the little things. The exercise will help you with all types of photography, where the details can take an image from good to great. If you want to photograph people, then understanding facial expressions is going to be a BIG part of your job. While the stereotypical smiling and looking at the camera shot is always a winner (and a seller) I’ve personally found it much easier to appreciate different expressions when photographing my friends. I know they have a lot of different expressions. So, in photos, I really like seeing them in a variety of ways. Happy, silly, peaceful. I also appreciate the kind of expressions that reflect real life—like tired or thoughtful, annoyed or excited.
When you get to know someone, you start to recognise their own unique expressions. This takes time though. It’s not easy to do with clients you meet for the first time while shooting! It can be as simple as a full-framed portrait of someone pulling different faces to following someone around all day and capturing them naturally in a documentary style. Perhaps the most valuable thing you can learn when you photograph the people you love is what really matters to you in a photo.
That’s the nature of working for money. And, as I said before, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that. Photographers are generally in business to make money so they can keep shooting! But that’s a very superficial level of photography—shooting what is saleable so focussing on those natural moments is key for me which Danny has excellently demonstrated here.
I gave him this challenge because I know he was comfortable with landscape and static subjects, I wanted him to work with a new topic. Danny embraced the challenge by finding someone who was happy to work with him and by adapting to a new situation. I admire his adaptability, his willingness to learn new methods and for embracing an entirely new topic.
Once again I am delighted with the work he has produced, his editing skills are continuously improving and his understanding of subtle changes is impeccable for a beginner. His willingness to accept new challenges and overcome any obstacles will make him an excellent photographer.
PROJECT THREE: WINTER
For this project, I wanted to show off winter in the UK. I wanted to take photographs of the snowy aspects of the landscape. I paid close attention to the lighting conditions because of the weather being more unpredictable this time of year but I made sure to capture the right amount of exposure in my images.
I also focused on composition as well to make sure that my focal points were positioned in the correct place to make it look more visually appealing.
The main edits I made to these photographs were using the hue, saturation and selective colour tool on Photoshop to highlight the winter colours and one or two of the photographs I felt look a little underexposed, so I thought they need to look brighter.
I had learnt some more technical editing tools during the project such as the selective colour tool to exaggerate certain colours. This is also a tool I don’t always use but now I can use this editing technique more confidently.
One thing that was a bit difficult with this project was that because of the weather conditions I had to be careful of snow falling onto the camera and damaging it. I also found it difficult trying to capture the individual snow droplets falling down because it was tricky to focus on them.
However I really think this was a great project and I felt that I had experimented very well with different angles in order to get the best composition. I also think the editing was successful because although it was minimal, it was very effective!
Winter photography can be extremely challenging. Photographs in low level lighting in winter can have a high noise-level so I advised Danny to learn how to adjust his ISO levels on his camera and to play with shutter speeds to allow more light into the lens too.
I asked Danny to research and learn to use the physiogram to make the saturation pop and to play with levels and enhance the dark and light tones. I asked him if his camera had any issues with climate change and condensation? Did he have any lighting difficulties? Were there weather issues? What camera settings did he use to adjust the noise and lighting affects? Did he need to do many editing adjustments?
Danny has produced some of his best work on this project. A theme with a clear style and consistency throughout. For a project to work I believe all images should look as though they have the same flow and have distinguishing features which label them to a particular photographer, it is evident form these images that Danny is developing a style for himself and a unique niche within his final products. I particularly like the use of blues within the images, they create a sombre tone which matches the elements and contrasts the dark lines and shadows. His use of editing has heightened the colours without over saturating them.
I also admire that Danny’s projects have a clear focus, my aim when giving a task with only one word leaves it open to photographing as little or as many different subjects as he seems suitable. However, Danny doesn’t fall into that trap but decides on his subject and keeps a consistent theme throughout. Danny has a clear talent for landscape photography.
PROJECT TWO: CHRISTMAS
I wanted to try and capture the magic of Christmas with these photographs but I wanted to choose aspects of photography that are still new to me such as indoor work as my photography is primarily outdoor shots.
I also wanted to focus carefully on light throughout this photograph because Christmas is a happy time full of bright lights and vibrant colours.
When editing my work, I once again wanted to use minimal editing. I mainly focused on adjusting exposure because I didn’t want to over or underexpose the images because I wanted to get the light perfect. I also focused on composition and wanted to crop certain images so that the focal point would be positioned in the centre of the image as this makes it look more visually appealing to the viewer.
When editing, to make this more accurate I had used the rule of thirds grid to judge where the centre was and position the subject matter there.
I really like these images as they show off the bright colours and I think capture the magic of Christmas although some of it was very difficult when experimenting with the indoor shots and trying to get the right lighting conditions.
My favourite shot of this project was the image of the robin because I was very lucky to capture it and I love the detail as well capturing the Christmas lights behind it.
It seemed only apt to give Danny a Christmas project since it was that time of the year! There are always plenty of opportunities to develop photography during this time of the year. The lighting can be difficult due to the lack of natural lighting which can create some low-resolution images.
I asked Danny to think about love, relationships, friendships, off-guard moments, natural, documentary, smiles, glances, gratuity, presents, food and to possibly capture the ‘John Lewis’ affect – so the almost cheesy, glittery light innocence of Christmas.
With regards to his editing techniques, I suggested he focused on bright lights and fairy lights, enhancing the already heightened colours using levels and tones – pop colours such as highlighting Christmas colours like red and green.
I particularly liked the use of light within Danny’s images, especially contrasting against the dark backgrounds, he heightened the colours just enough to make them stand out without over exposing them.
I agree with Danny’s comments about the image of the robin, it’s a beautiful image perfectly encapsulating the essence of Christmas with the colours, snow and the bokeh lighting in the background, it’s an image which clearly demonstrates Danny’s natural eye for capturing a candid image. It shows a great use of aperture priority as he clearly shows the subject in focus while keeping the background blurred, drawing attention to the robin.
My only suggestion is perhaps next time Danny tries shooting some of his images from different points of views and angles to show some variety. Otherwise, I am very impressed with his project and his attention to detail. Danny provided thorough descriptions of what he’s learnt and how he develops his ideas.
PROJECT ONE: COUPLES
The below images are of before and after I edited them. I firstly experimented with the tones, exposure and the hue to highlight more of the autumnal colours of the leaves in the images.
I wanted to make the editing on my pictures very minimal as I didn’t want to over-edit them and I didn’t feel like there was a lot I could do to improve the original shots.
I also edited some of the images by cropping them slightly by using the rule of thirds grid so that the models were positioned in the centre of the photograph as this improves the composition.
I really liked that aspect of my work but it was a little difficult to get the correct lighting as the images were taken at dusk so the light was rapidly changing.
However I would do portraiture again because although it isn’t a type of photography which I specialise in, it would be something I would be happy to learn more about in the future.
Danny clearly demonstrates natural talent. From the moment he first contacted me he was eloquent, well written and prompt in his responses to emails. He arrived to the shoot early and well prepared. He was friendly and eager to learn and discuss what he’s currently doing.
I don’t have any doubt that Danny will succeed in any area of photography with his ambition and determination. I admire his work outside of set college hours, especially on the craft fair and his final images were well chosen and edited brilliantly.
I am sure with time his confidence will grow with directing his subjects and in the meantime I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend him and look forward to seeing the work he produces from his next project.