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Friday, February 29, 2008

Three Versions Out Soon!

It won't be long until you see these three versions of my magazine, Total Image, on the shelves of your local photo retail specialty store. Total Image and Better Pictures have been around for some years now, but Photo Plus is a new version of the magazine that will be distributed around Australia by member stores of the Photo Plus Group.
It is a wonderful thing to have Photo Plus on board, and the advertisers benefit from an extra 10 000 copy circulation. I am pleased that another 10 -20 000 readers or so will benefit from my little, but powerful, publication.

Monday, February 25, 2008

When Your Little Sister is the Boss

Like her elder sister before her, my little sister, Natasha, (left) has recently become a qualified Make Up Artist. She is very good, so let me know if you need an MUA for any events, ok? To initiate her folio and have some material ready for an upcoming Expo, she called on her big brother to shoot some of her friends. I was happy to oblige. I have shot some of her friends before - in the nicest possible way of course!

So, on Saturday morning, it was up early to drive the one and a quarter hour distance to her home where the marathon shoot was to take place. We started at around ten, and finished at around ten. But it was a fun twelve hours! I used various combinations of studio lighting and the fabulous natural light that Natasha's place has plenty of. I was able to create different kinds of images in short spaces of time and with minimal need to change location or lighting. It was a great lesson for me and gave Tash the chance to see how her make-up photographed. It was a confidence boost for her and a whole bunch of opportunities to learn some new lighting techniques for me.

I am sure there will be more shoots like this one, but I know that I won't be the only photographer who sees the benefits of her art. She is a very talented woman and I am very proud.

Love your work Tash! Love you.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

An article in The Age about my workshops

The Grand Illusion
by Terry Lane
February 14, 2008
Imaging motored out to Eltham last week for a one-day workshop designed to help photographers improve their people shots. The day was organised by Camera House and was run by professional photographer Shelton Muller.
Shelton loves doing wedding photos, which makes him something of a rarity among professionals, most of whom seem to do it grudgingly to make a living. But Shelton is a showman who enjoys nothing better than directing a cast in a big production.
There were 13 of us there in the chapel at Montsalvat. For $249 we had the run of the grounds, lunch, the co-operation of three models and the experience of the professional.We were a motley crew with varying degrees of expertise. One wanted to take better pictures of his bonsai. Another had been sent by his wife to learn how to take better photos of her with the camera she gave him. There were a couple of camera club enthusiasts and one chap who just wanted to recapture the pleasure he got taking photos for the school year book a long time ago.
There was a bloke who took pictures of yachts and a couple of women who wanted to take better photos of their children.
We got started with the warning: "There's no more difficult subject in the world than people." Then we learned about light - avoid the on-camera flash, use available light wherever possible and become an observer of light and how it falls. Look for the most attractive, diffused light - think Rembrandt and window light streaming in from above and to the side. When you find the light, place your subject in it.
Then attend to composition. It isn't a good idea to place the subject's face in the centre of the frame with lots of "negative space" around the head. Put the eyes of the subject a third of the distance from the top to bottom of the frame.
A medium telephoto lens, preferably a prime, is best for portraits. Shelton's in love with his 85mm Micro Nikkor. It gives a flattering perspective and keeps the background attractively out of focus.
Now comes the hard part. We all want to take spontaneous, unposed, relaxed, natural pictures. As our teacher said: "Often the spontaneity is contrived." You have to work at it. The photographer is the director, drawing a performance - an illusion of spontaneity - from the subject. Which is where we shy introverts are at a disadvantage.
Shelton has a personality somewhere between Jim Carrey and Tigger. When he pulls a face and bounces, you smile. His exuberance comes from unfeigned pleasure in his work and in making people have a good time while he is buzzing around putting them into their contrived, spontaneous poses. He is free of the embarrassment that most of us feel when pushing people around in front of a crowd.
Imaging, being a fairly dour party, is confident that we know all about the rules of lighting, composition and lens selection. But when it comes to energising the subject, we can only envy Shelton. We don't think that wedding photography is for us.
We will stick to still-life capsicums and zucchinis.
This story was found here

Friday, February 08, 2008

Make it a Hero

My client calls. That's always a good thing. You know that the conversation will lead to work, and that's a good thing, right? It also means that once again you will be called upon to create heroes. I was told we needed a double page spread and perhaps a cover image. That is a fairly daunting request considering that what I was given as a subject was not particularly visually dynamic. As I have often said, that seems to be what photographers do more than anything else. This time, I was asked to make something visually heroic from a fairly basic machine in tin shed. The machine saves tens of thousands of litres of water each day, which is a great thing in a drought ridden country. However, it in itself is a fairly basic looking piece of equipment in an even more basic context.
I think it is here that photographers earn their real keep. My client had already taken some photographs and sent them to me. Clearly they were not dynamic enough to use in their magazine, so I was called, and yes, I had to earn my keep.
So, using a combination of my personal vision, experience and equipment, I managed to create images within this context that were more visually dynamic while also keeping to the editorial. Therein is where photographers work their way into the hearts and chequebooks of their clients.
Successful professional photography is not about photographing beautiful swimsuit models on tropical beaches. Well, sometimes it is, but lets face it - you have a pretty good head start there. Photographers who can make something from nothing are valued by their clients. In this regard I know I have several clients who turn to me when this is needed.
Apparently they get the other guys to shoot the swimsuit models. Where did I go wrong?

The Life, Times and Images of photographer, Shelton Muller

Images on this blog are copyright Shelton Muller