This is a photograph from the first fashion shoot I did with Gregoire at the Lightspot Studio in London. It was this shoot and in particular, the advice from fellow fashion photographer Diego Indraccolo that sold me on single light source photography.
The dark sides
There are a lot of fears (or reservations) in photography, e.g. the over manipulation of images in Adobe Photoshop in contrast to the ‘purity’ of photographs shots and fully realised ‘in camera’ without any help from the digital darkroom. So, just to be clear, this image of Gregoire has been sharpened and lightened (or “dodged” to give it’s technical name) in the dark areas. Why?
When I started off shooting ‘chemical’, developing my own film rolls etc., dodging and burning of images was part of the process as taking the photograph – at a least when it comes to fashion. In photojournalism the whole essence is different. The audience’s expectations are different. In documentary photography you are showing ‘the truth’, so there isn’t same latitude available to alter and manipulate. But so far I haven’t seen any digital printers produce the same sharp-as-razor-blades tacky sharpness to photo printing as I used to get moving between different speed photo papers in the chemical darkroom. So this is why when it comes to fashion, I dodge, I burn, I sharpen – and keep it to that.
There’s also this nervousness about going to the other dark side, going high contrast / pitch black. Now that a lot of photographers shoot digitally there is also this unspoken pressure to rescue everything in your RAW file – because you can – but that doesn’t always necessarily serve your aesthetic. I love shooting high contrast, but in saying that, I still have to be aware of how the mid-tones in an image (like this one of Gregoire) might eventually print out. If you crush the highlights and a shadows to a point where the photo looks like a screen print, you’ve lost all the subtlety. Go far by all means, but not completely over the edge in your exposure settings.
The whole kernel of the Steve Jobs and his introduction of WSIWYG computing was that what you saw was what you got. As already mentioned, digital printing for me isn’t ‘there’ yet. I still feel the need to tread careful for fear how an image might be printed, particularly if it’s going to a magazine or photo agency. In the old days you sent the print. Now we send the digital negatives for somebody else to print. Big difference.