Leading Ladies Martini Mixer, Valentines Day Edition! [Events]

February 6th was a great evening out with the Leading Ladies of Halifax.  It was a fantastic networking opportunity for all involved, including myself.  Some highlights of the night included photographer Jenn Gregory giving away a boudoir session, the introduction of a fantastic new service called Swapskis and of course, meeting many new and awesome Leading Ladies. 

If you are a Leading Ladies Attendee and you are looking for a new profile pic or Professional Portrait, get in touch!  I offer a 20% discount if you mention Leading Ladies!

 Here's a gallery of the images from the event, click to enlarge, feel free to share but be sure to credit!

Abolishing the Rule of Thirds [Composition]

As a photographer I've been brought up on the rule of thirds.  Get the subject out of the middle of the frame, use this magical grid and everything will be just right.  Use those "third" lines because with them, you can compose a strong image.

Like this shot, where she's framed to one side.  That's what makes the image work right?
 Sort of.

Lately, since I haven't been shooting I've been studying a bit more into composition.  My sources have led me to Ipox Studios "Canon of Design".  There, you will be greeted with the following message:

The Canon of Design stands for artistic integrity. To put forth your best effort no matter what. To leave your mark on this earth as one of the most talented visual communicators ever known. Creating a future filled with art that can stand next to the greatest masterpieces of all time. To share, help others, and communicate the techniques of design which were used by those we greatly admire, and which reflect the beauty prominently found in nature. Enduring the journey to achieve artistic excellence!
All of this along with a tag line: "The Rule of Thirds Killed Design and Left it for Dead.

What?  Dead?  Wait, I thought the rule of thirds was design.

Image sourced via google search, and from This Blog
I mean, that's what we've been taught.  Rule of thirds came from design, and also from Divine ratios and stuff.  It's all connected!!

The truth appears to be that while the rule of thirds is a strong compositional tool, it's hardly the be-all-end-all of composition.  In fact, a lot of images that have great composition are not relying solely on the rule of thirds, but on a much larger set of guidelines, whether consciously or not.  

There's another tool out there, one that emphasizes Dynamic Symmetry instead of four lines and four points. It emphasizes diagonals, and provides guidelines that will help make your images really powerful, and the best part is you'll know why.  This tool is known as the Root-Phi Armature.

This looks way more interesting to the eye than the rule of thirds, doesn't it? Click the link above to see how it's created and why it's more amazing than the rule of thirds. Image source: IPox Studios.
You can use the points on this grid to line your subjects up.  You could also use the lines to help you position your subject matter to create diagonal emphasis in your image.  You could echo the diagonal lines and reciprocals in this grid throughout your composition, rather than placing the subject matter on them directly. This grid can help you with posing, arranging, horizon placement, and so much more.

This is only the beginning; as the late, great Billy Mays would say: "BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!" 
In addition to this tool, there are many other things to keep in mind when it comes to composition including:
  • Figure Ground Relationship
  • Greatest Area of Contrast
  • Edge Flicker
  • Arabesques
  • Coincidences
  • Gamut
  • Enclosures
  • Ellipses
  • Aerial Perspective
  • Simultaneous Contrast
  • Right Angles
  • Radiating Lines
There are also a few ways to view your image that may help you determine how to compose it, such as BW Blur (reducing the image to black and white, then blurring it to see where the strong areas of contrast are, and to check for high contrast areas around the frame's edge).  Don't just trust me on it, Go start reading through the Canon of Design.  

Are you overwhelmed yet?  You should be if you've been using nothing but the rule of thirds and some good old fashioned luck to compose your shots.  

If you're like me, you've probably been using some of this stuff in your compositions without even realizing it! I would be constantly choosing images in the edit that had diagonals, or sweeping arabesques, minimal edge flicker and even aerial perspective.  But I was doing it subconsciously.  I just thought "Wow, that's a nice looking image, I like it better than the 300 other ones I took today."  I hope to get to a point where I don't have to take 300 images to create the one I like.  Even cutting the number of photos in half would save me a boatload of time in the editing suite.

I'm finished ranting and raving, but if you've read this far and you're intrigued then you absolutely should go start into the Canon of Design.  Let Tavis Leaf Glover take you on a journey of introspective and education. You won't regret it, as long as you use it.

2013 Year in Review, 2014 Goals

I don't really make New Years Resolutions.  My objective is to create my own milestones free from any previously dictated schedule.  It is, however, important to assess and evaluate the state of one's work, and as it happens I had lots of time over the holiday season to do that.   Here's how my 2013 went, in no particular order:
1.  I hit the front page of 500px with this shot of Ashley Shaw:

2. I had this photo chosen by 500px for their Editor's Choice Page:

3. I gave a half-hour long presentation at the Sackville Photo Club, in front of about 80 members, during which I (just barely) made this portrait pretty much from scratch:

I shot two fashion shows, the [PHASE] Designer Showcase for the Center For Arts and Technology Emerging Designers, and the Atlantic Fashion Week show at Gallery 1 in Dartmouth:

Back in April, I did a full blown fashion shoot at London Loft, complete with a creative team.  This was a huge step for me, shooting on location with a fantastic model (Meghan Hale), brilliant make up artist (Bryana Doyscher), awesome stylist (Nicole Dnistrianskyj) and great assistant (Ellen Handyside):

I spent some serious time refining my street photography and even set up a dark room to process and scan my own black and white film.  However, looking back at the results from the Kodak Portra film, I may start getting more colour film to shoot.

I used Blurb to create and print my first Photo Book, my hands-on Portfolio for 2013.

So how did I do?  Here's my list from the end of 2012:
  1. Create at least 12 images over the next year that are good enough to put in my portfolio. I think I accomplished this. My Portfolio actually contains very few images that were created before 2013.  
  2. Get some paying portrait and fashion work and break into the industry. Eehhhhh, not so much.  I did however meet loads of professionals in the fashion industry in Halifax.  This was a great year for me, and while I didn't necessarily make any money shooting fashion, I feel like I made some serious progress. 
  3. Undertake and complete a major creative project (I'm missing the 365 project now) with the end goal of producing a photo book. The photo book happened, but was more of an amalgamation of all my work to date.  I spent more time working on smaller, bite-size projects.  
  4. Do a model/fashion shoot in a foreign country. Sadly, one has to actually travel to a foreign country to do a shoot there.  I'll put this on my 2014 bucket list. 
  5. Get published in at least TWO magazines (gotta be better than last year, right?) This didn't happen.  I did make my first submission to Vogue and though I didn't get accepted, I was confident enough in my work to put it out there.  
  6. Generate enough business to warrant an annual studio membership at a local studio. While I didn't get the business, I did get creative and made up a home studio.  It's not glamourous but in all truth it helps me to keep my apartment clean.  
  7. Improve, improve, improve.  Make strides with my photographic technique, business skills, and creativity. This is a pretty subjective item.  It's a goal that I'm always chasing, though I know that it is a life-long endeavor.  
  8. have as much fun as possible with photography.  I'm confident that I made some pretty good memories in 2013 through my images and experiences making them.  I can only hope that 2014 and future years will be equally as productive. 
In review, this list was a little ambitious.  Getting published multiple times and shooting in a foreign country were good goals to set, but in my first year of shooting with models (let alone fashion photography) I wasn't quite there.  No big deal, because I'm still breathing, and I'm still shooting for me.  Time to dream for this year coming:

My 2014 List:
  1. Get Published at least once, in a local publication, ideally a full editorial shoot.
  2. Refine my style, focus on the images that matter most.  In the last year I've proven myself to be a Portrait and Fashion photographer.  I shoot street photography for me.  What you may see is a separation of the two, where I even create a separate "entity" for my street photography altogether.
  3. Continue my path of self-discovery through photography.  Deep, I know.  I really am stopping to think more about what my photography says about me, as well as how potential clients view my images.
  4. Buy Less Gear, shoot more.  In 2013 I accumulated way too much stuff.  The only good part about the gear that I've acquired is that I use most of it a lot of the time.  Each piece has a specific purpose, and it gets used for that.  
  5. Assist other photographers to learn, make friends and be more involved.  I assisted a couple of photographers in 2013 on photo shoots where I met new faces, learned some new tricks and (hopefully) added some meaningful creative insight.       
  6. Do something new and exciting that I've never done before, in a way that scares me.  
  7. Do a photo shoot in a foreign country.
  8. Build my business and charge what I'm worth.  I feel like I've stepped down the right path on this item in the last month, and I hope to continue the trend.

That's all for today, I wish you the best for the new year and hope you have an absolutely stellar 2014! Thank you so much for reading!

Daily Photo: 26/09/13 - Symmetry in Brass [Street]

Technical Information:
Camera: Canon 5D Mark II
Lens: Canon 50mm f/1.8 II
ISO200, f/2.5, 1/320s
Location: Downtown Halifax, NS
Process: Apple Aperture for RAW processing, Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 for Black and White conversion.

Not sure if it was the lighting, the textures, or the detail that brought me into this shot, but I am very pleased with the result.