The Thought Process Behind an Image

I wanted to interview a photographer and get their thought process that they go through when they create an image. I asked one of my favorite photographers, Dylan M Howell, to tell me his typical process. Here’s his website:

dylan m howell photo

Dylan is a wedding photographer in Portland and I’ve been following his work for a few years. He was one of the first photographers that I saw incorporating nature with portraits, so I wanted to ask about that mix. Landscape photos can be so difficult because you have to think of them as a portrait, and many people don’t.

Here are Dylan’s thoughts:

Thanks for asking me this question! I’ll try to break down my typical thought process when doing a portrait in nature.

First, I need for the client(s) to be at ease with having their photo taken. Nothing looks worse than a nervous subject. I usually schedule an extra 30 minutes or so of portrait time at the start, that I use to get them used to being in front of the camera. Then, by the end of the session they are super into each other and can forget that I’m there. I also want to get to know them, their personalities, how they interact with each other, and look at how to best light them.

Second, I look for good light. Preferably, this nice light also has a flattering backdrop. I tend to schedule my sessions around sunset, so that my favorite images will be happening just before or after the sun goes below the horizon. I love the soft glow during that time, as well as the color temperature. It is really pleasing on both skin tones and allowing for a less dynamic scene in the background. Most of my images are in these situations.

Third, it is time to start interacting with the couple. I want them to look connected and in love. I want it to look natural and not overly posed. I try to keep them focused on interacting with each other and not with me directly. Most of my images have them facing towards each other. I find this key to having connection in the image.

Fourth, now it is time to start composing. I’m looking at the flow of the image, the client’s placement in regards to points of contrast with the background, and making lens selection to play with background foreground compression, depth of field, and field of view. I want to make sure they stick out from the background, I also want to make sure the horizon isn’t cutting through them in a distracting way. I’ll then also start looking for leading lines in the foreground / background that I could place them in to draw the eye even further towards the subject.

Fifth, now that I have it composed I usually just take multiple versions, trying to get different emotional responses from the couple. I’ll also change lenses and try to attack it from a different point of view. This helps later on, I can decide what I like most when I am looking at them in the computer. I can take time to critique the image and figure out what I can do differently in the future to make it better.

It is super helpful to also get other eyes on your work. I’ve learned so much by talking with other photographers about how they’d handle a situation. It is great to see other ways of creating an image in the same scene.

Thanks again for asking me to be on your blog! -Dylan


Why Should I Shoot RAW instead of JPEG

Why Should I Shoot RAW instead of JPEG

There are lots of ways for making better photographs. Using quality lenses is one way and another way is investing your time in editing images in Photoshop or other apps. One interesting approach for making high quality photographs is to take pictures in RAW. This is the same as making a photo negative. The camera will take the photo in a way in which it is a lot more detailed and sharper than JPEG.

lake canoe photo

What exactly is RAW?

RAW is type of photograph file. When you make images in raw you will get more sharpness and bigger quality of the picture. You`ll get all this contained in the regions of vibrancy, shade, light and hue. This simply means that your camera is getting more information than usual. When you shoot in raw the camera handles this information in a more effective way and also lot faster.

An interesting example is taking picture of a rose. In reality the rose has a dark red color, but when you shoot a photo of the rose in JPEG you may lose some of the color depth. It may look a bit different than natural, and this is because JPEG is not able to reproduce the finer color tones as RAW can. JPEG cannot distinguish between subtle details, while with RAW you can pick up all the fine details of the rose. One minor downside of raw is that it cannot be checked out in any software. You must have special photo software in order to see raw photographs. Depending on your camera type there is different software for raw.

sunset docks

Benefits of Shooting in RAW

One of the main benefits is that RAW photos are clearer, sharper and of highest quality. They are also more durable files than JPEG. Smaller JPEG files can fade in a few years, while this cannot happen with raw files. That is why raw photographs are perfect for keeping in archives. One main question is whether the raw pictures should be amended? Well that depends on personal preference, some photographers do that while others do not. RAW files are usually a lot larger than JPEG files. JPEG photos are usually around couple of megabytes in size, while most of the raw images go around thirty megabytes. The main advantage of the bigger raw files is that due to the fact that the images are larger they come with fantastic sharpness, definition and top quality.

Switching to raw mode is done very easily. You just use menu in your camera. Enter the menu, go to ‘image size’ and make the simple switch to raw. That way all next photographs you shoot will be in raw mode. If you do not want to shoot all the time in raw you still have the option for concurrently shooting in JPEG and RAW modes. However, have in mind that if you select both options simultaneously the pictures you take will take a bigger space on your camera memory card. This is because the camera will need more space to store two shots of different quality at the same time. As mentioned before, RAW files can be ten times bigger in size than JPEG files, so that should be taken into consideration. A good idea is to always have a spare memory card which you can immediately use in case your initial memory card gets filled with images.

The majority of professional photographers today are only shooting their photographs in RAW. This is because raw files come with best quality. If you wish to make a JPEG file for evaluation purposes you can always create a copy of the image later on. In the meantime you can enjoy the best quality that comes with raw. Your pictures will look clearer and sharper and will last for a long time.

Another reason for shooting in RAW instead of JPEG is that raw is a more creative option. Colors you get with raw are sharper, pictures have a better exposure, and all the landscapes are a lot clearer. Highlights and shades are also perfect, unlike in JPEG where they often come with exposure problems. Raw also balances the lightning better as it picks up the finer details from the photo scene. RAW is a perfect option for photographing different ceremonies like weddings and birthdays where there are lots of people, as well as for taking night shots. Natural colors and people`s skin looks much better and softer in the photographs taken in raw mode. That is why most of the wedding photographers are shooting in raw.

night sky

Shooting in RAW is better than shooting in JPEG because you will love the amazing quality of the photo. Photographs will look crisper, clearer and sharper. Light and vibrancy will also be healthier, and all of that will significantly improve your photos.