I had an epiphany on the plane on the way home from Seattle.
Lunch was being served and I had the choice between steak, salmon or pasta. I was wavering between the more adventurous choice of salmon and the safe choice of pasta and finally chose the former. The flight attendants came around with the meals and I noticed that the woman in front of me got the pasta. It looked GOOD. It smelled even better! Suddenly my decision to order salmon seemed like the wrong one. When my meal arrived, it just seemed bland compared to what looked like a wonderful meal in the seat in front of me – at least from my perspective.
As I was salivating over my seat mate’s ravioli, it occurred to me that I do the exact same thing with photography. I make a choice to go in one direction, shoot a certain way, create a specific look and I’m generally happy with the results… until I happen to glance over my shoulder or at a website or on a forum and see what someone else is doing and I think to myself, “Wow, I wish I would have done that!”.
I did the same thing during the Jasmine Star workshop with CreativeLIVE. Jasmine asked each of the participants to select two photos to showcase in class (and in front of the 175,000+ people who were watching on the internet – talk about pressure!!). I agonized over which photos to choose and finally came up with two very different images that I really liked, each for a different reason.
This is the first image. I shot it from a distance with my 70-200/2.8 at ISO 400, f/4.0 and 1/320 sec. I can’t remember the last time I used a zoom to shoot a detail shot, but I really like the way this came out. I was also thrilled that the bright window light did not blow out the white & cream flowers. I achieved that by metering off the brightest spot (and getting a somewhat dark image) and then bringing up the brightness a little in Lightroom.
This is my second shot. I shot it from behind the scenes with my 14-24/2.8 at ISO 200, f/4.0 and 1/800 sec while Audrey was posing Billy & Laura. I bought the 14-24 recently and have used it maybe once or twice, but NEVER at a wedding. I was experimenting with this shot to see what I could get and then I really punched up the saturation in post to make it more dramatic. I liked the effect I was able to create.
I was proud to show this image… until I saw everyone else’s photos. As each participant’s turn came and went, I felt myself slinking lower and lower in my seat. Once I saw all the beautiful, natural-looking, romantic and classic photos from the rest of the group, I immediately wished I had chosen something else to show… something safer. The pasta choice.
But as Jasmine would say, “It is what it is”. As it came up on the screen, I found myself explaining why I liked the shot and the more I talked, the more I realized that I DID like the shot, despite it being so different from everyone else’s - or maybe because of that. Jasmine looked at the image thoughfully and asked me to think about the three words I would use to define my brand and whether or not this shot fit within those parameters. I told her, quite honestly, that I liked so many different styles, that I was having a hard time coming up with three words that made sense – and worked together. My two images were so different, they could have been shot by two different people! How would I ever come up with three cohesive words and one unified style?? The class moved on to other topics, but one question kept running through my brain: “What are my three words??”
Later, Arlene, one of the volunteers manning the CreativeLIVE chatroom, told me that my Theo Chocolate image had sparked a lot of discussion – and even went so far as to copy the chat comments into a Word document so that I could read them later. I found myself re-reading those comments as my salmon sat abandonned beside me on the plane. There was a lot of wonderful feedback (thanks internet!!!) and some people even offered up great suggestions for my three words. As I was thinking about which ones would make sense for me the woman in the seat in front of me leaned over and asked if I was going to eat my salmon. She noticed that I had not touched it and she thought it looked delicious. I laughed and told her about my ravioli envy for her plate, which she thought was quite funny. I wound up eating my salmon cold and decided that I liked it after all.
As for my three words, I am leaning towards Bold, Bright and Beautiful. Like my photography, however, my brand is still evolving and is an ongoing work in progress.