When I started editing photography, I spent hours watching Youtube videos and reading articles to learn the best techniques. I thoroughly enjoyed that time spent honing my craft, but I was on the wrong path. It wasn’t a mistake, but my reasoning for doing so was misguided: I thought quite naively that if I just learned some missing color-grading techniques or cool lighting trick, my photography would jump to “professional level”.
From a craft perspective, my photography did improve. But technical craft didn’t help me capture the “feel” of the memory people were creating. Sometimes, more often than I would like to admit, my pursuit of the technically perfect drained the life out of my pictures. Instead of watching a family interact, I would be playing with a light stand.
For example, I’d be taking a family portrait, and a cute game would break out between parent a
nd child, but by the time I tried to adjust my lighting, the moment was gone. In the effort to be technically proficient, I was missing humanity. I was missing the “feels” of the moment.
This is the part where I’m supposed to tell you that I’ve overcome this shortcoming, so book all your picture sessions with Charis Seed. But I haven’t figured out everything yet. But I’m putting feelings first now. I’m still learning how to put what a client feels about their family on camera.
Instead of thinking, “What is everything I can do to light this shot perfectly?”; I’m trying to think, “What is the least I need to capture the feeling of this moment?” Sometimes it means no lights, just sunlight bouncing off a white reflector on a family snuggling together. And sometimes the least means three lights flashing at energetic angles to capture the feeling of riding a motorcycle.
But I probably don’t need three lights to capture the feeling of your grandmother’s smile.
Unless your grandma is riding a motorcycle.