Tips + Techniques

What Would Jerry Do? Real Shooting Scenarios from a Pro

February 21, 2014

By RF Staff

Many photographers in today’s industry are guilty of overshooting and overzealously using Photoshop. How many times have you clicked the shutter on your camera and taken an image that you knew you were going to delete later? How many times have you been lazy during a shoot and said to yourself, “I’ll fix it later in Photoshop”? I have no problem with the use of Photoshop or other postproduction software. After all, photographers rarely provide completely untouched proofs to their clients. But I do take exception when photographers try to use postproduction to create a beautiful image that could have been created in-camera.

Believe it or not, after 20 years, I still don’t know how to use Photoshop. I know the basics and what is possible, but I have never retouched a single image personally. It is my firm belief that a businessperson should work on his or her business more than in it. Some might say that you are saving money by not paying someone else to do your post-processing for you, but I’m not making money while I’m sitting behind my computer.

How about the 30 to 40 hours a week you would have free to market your business more effectively and be more profitable? Not being proficient in Photoshop has been a blessing for me. I try to create in-camera what other photographers produce with postproduction. This mentality has undoubtedly made me a better photographer. Think of it as a singer who doesn’t rely on auto-tune; the way a singer uses his or her voice as an instrument, I want to use my camera to create my art and then use postproduction to enhance it.

Whether photographing a drop-dead gorgeous bride or a challenging subject or location, it is our job to bring out the best in any situation. Below are before and after examples of how to think like MacGyver (if he were a photographer).

Camera: Nikon D3s
Lens: Nikon AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED
Shutter Speed: 1/100 sec
Aperture: f/3.2
ISO: 1000
WB: Daylight

All Photos © Jerry Ghionis

I positioned my model close to the window so the light is illuminating her face beautifully.

I used the Nikon Macro 105mm f/2.8 lens to crop close to her face. I focused on her eye, which was reflecting a strong catch light from the window. Her eyes were on the same focus plane as her lips.

Camera: Nikon D3s
Lens: Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II Lens
Shutter Speed: 1/1600 sec
Aperture: f/2.8
ISO: 200
WB: Daylight

Simply backlighting a subject doesn’t always mean the light on the subject’s face is flattering as well. As you can see in this image, the location is beautiful but the lighting on the bride’s face is very poor. It’s flat and completely lacks dimension and depth. This was taken without a reflector. You can see the drastic difference that is made by simply adding a reflector. The model kept blinking as she couldn’t open her eyes in the bright reflection.

I asked her to open her eyes on the count of three and made her laugh just before the count. Notice how I turned her body away from the light but turned her face back into the light. This makes her appear slimmer and brings out the texture and dimension in her dress and chisels her face. 

Jerry Ghionis’ WPPI presentation, “What Would Jerry Do,” takes place the evening of March 1 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. A live shoot with audience members will be followed by a party. Ghionis’ seminar, “Creativity, Composition and Cropping,” is on Tuesday, March 4, from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. He will also be at booth #1225 during the tradeshow from March 3 to March 5. Check out the Ice Light for information on the Westcott Ice Light designed by Ghionis, and the Ice Society for information on the subscription-based photography training website created by Ghionis. Download the “go to” app for inspiration and education, Picpockets: World’s Best Photographs.