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April 15, 2006

Diffuse and bounce

I've been conned into asked to shoot my brother's senior portraits, as the studio the yearbook advisor switched the school over to sucks, to put it bluntly.

Back when I was graduating from the same high school, we used a local photographer here in Chandler. Great guy, did excellent work, and his studio was centrally located for the entire population of the high school. And by "his studio" I do mean his studio: it was him and him alone. His wife doubled up as receptionist/salesperson and a realtor, but the actual photographic work was all his.

When or shortly after I graduated, the yearbook advisor left. She'd been working there for quite some time and was due for retirement. The new advisor came along and changed over to an entirely different photographer (ostensibly for reasons I won't get into).

To the detriment of everyone's photographs.

The new photographer, while local in the sense of "Phoenix Metro," is a trek for every single student and his or her family. The new photographer is also a photo mill full of undertrained, inexperienced camera jockeys who couldn't take a decent picture if it was their front-row ticket out of the Second Coming.

I have seen the proofs my brother got back. They're downright appalling. For reference, I learned to set studio lights and shoot portraits in my second semester of high school photography. If you have two eyeballs and four brain cells, you can make passable but uninspiring portraits of nearly anyone who sits down in front of the camera. Beyond the most basic skills, it is a matter of artistic vision and experience, but I could probably train a monkey to set broad and short lighting properly.

The "photographers" at this studio, then, are less capable than trained monkeys.

So now I get to sweep in and save the day by shooting a couple formals and a cap and gown (using my cap, gown, and stole, which are still hoarded away in my parents' closet). While I'm happy to do it, it's insane that I have to.

On the plus side, it gives me an excuse to head to Tempe Camera and buy a couple LiteDiscs (which are deliciously inexpensive), since I'm planning on shooting this without any sort of flash. I dig the natural light look, and with just a little coaxing from a bounce card and a diffusion panel, I should be able to get kick-ass results without having to buy or rent strobes.

Posted by Colin at April 15, 2006 10:53 PM

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