It's the start of the year again and the previous year in particular has just flashed by (no pun intended). This is the perfect milestone to take stock of some of the challenging projects that have shaped and developed my work in 2011.
My experience as a professional photographer is that once the images have been delivered to the client, the emphasis rapidly moves to the next creative project in the pipeline and quite often the reflection, critique and lesson learning takes a back stage whilst you're producing work and trying to get paid.
For me the most challenging and rewarding part of this year has been learning to develop an ambient light only mentality and a few projects over the past year have demanded a new 'non-flash' approach.
Having worked for many years in hospitals, clinical healthcare and research environments they often require additional light shaping to create images that look clean, sharp with lots of detail and provide a greater than normal depth of field. I have to confess that over the years my default setting has been to reach for the flash gear and use or mix with the ambient as a last result.
However this year I set myself some growth projects to free up my dependancy and develop my commercial photography style. A few of these were personal projects (see below) that would develop a new approach and a few 'flash prohibited' work projects to see how I could translate this technique to commercial work.
Personal project - 50mm series
This gave me plenty of opportunity to develop a bunch of new camera techniques to help me pull the most from low light scenes. Yeah sure, you gotta crank the ISO up and boy sometimes really hard, but most importantly choosing areas within the interior environment that offers the best natural light.
Here's a few examples commercial project just using low level ambient light.
Theatre photography - Anshen+Allen
Course tutor - University of Salford
Camera operator students - Media City UK
Old habits die hard and after 20 years of crafting light from flash, even now I still carry the flash kit round as some sort of comfort blanket, just in case. There are of course some projects/environments that demand the power, control and crispness that only flash can provide 'out of the box', however my approach now is to check out the natural possibilities first before breaking out the flash gear.
There are loads of creative projects in the pipeline for the forth-coming year which I'll tell you about soon, but for now have a great and prosperous 2012.