Photography as an art is so much more than the technical. It doesn’t matter what equipment you use as long as your images have something to say. In this monthly column, photographers Laurie Klein and Shelley Vandegrift offer words of inspiration followed by our monthly photo challenge assignment to help you tap into the art and soul of your photography.
Laurie Klein and Shelley Vandegrift, The Invisible Story Team, bring their shared love of infrared photography and teaching to workshops and events all over the world. Each brings her unique gift to the team. Laurie’s incredible heart and one-of-a-kind creative soul leads participants to discover the stories they hold inside and how to express them. Shelley, with her knack for making post-processing techniques accessible to all, guides students in discovering the skills needed to craft those stories.
In undergraduate school, I was taught that everything in an image is there for one or two reasons: composition and/or content, especially with infrared photography. I often find my students don’t worry so much about capture and content, feeling they can change it enough in post to tell their story. Neither is right or wrong; it just depends on the photographer’s workflow.
I love placing my models in the landscape. Often, I see/feel a scene in nature that calls out for a model. With this image, I saw the root in a half moon and thought it would be an excellent place for my model to sit. I could feel the movement of swinging. The background had textures but was not distracting. The light was dim, allowing the infrared capture of skin tones.
I knew tattoos would come out dark because of the blue and black ink showing deep black in infrared.
I asked her to point her toes and curve her legs to make triangles. The diagonal lines created a dynamic composition. I hoped the image would ask questions so my viewer could become a part of the story: Why is she looking up? What is there? And did she grow wings to swing or to soar?
I also used a vignette so the viewer’s eye would stay in the lightness of the cameo I created.
I especially loved how the tattoos gave her wings. I added the glow, which I do in all of my infrared images, creating drama, mystery, and magic. Lastly, I directed her to look up, which added to the story of her tattooed wings. By looking up, she was dreaming of the future and possibilities.
A computer is an artistic tool to me. While I am intentional about my compositions, I view them as the canvas and the computer as my brush and paint. I feel most at home creating images that tell stories from the world of my imagination.
This image is a composite of three different images: the dunes, the birds, and the sun behind the fog. Added to those images were a plugin and a texture to complete my story. The dunes and sun were both infrared images.
The base image was the dunes on a foggy day with the sun peaking through. Although the fog gave me a mostly flat sky, it spoke to me and felt like an interesting start to an image. The sun in that scene was a bit too small to properly balance the composition, so I took the sun from another photo I had captured of a similar scene and composited it to replace the original sun. Birds often appear in my images as a representation of growth and the mystical. In this image, I wanted to contrast the slightly gloomy feel of the fog with the hope and beauty of rising doves headed up to the light.
The bottom of the dunes was flat and distracted from the feeling of the majority of the composite, so I used one of my favorite plugins to add water. My final step was to make the composited parts cohesive. One of my favorite ways to accomplish that is to apply a texture on top and blend it. A little dodging and burning and a vignette kept the viewer’s eye where I wanted it and smoothed out the composition.
I love the story this combination offers to the viewer, one of mystery and hope.
September’s Infrared Assignment: Whether you are a capture or post-oriented artist, produce an image in your style that tells a story. Post your photo on Instagram, tag @kolarivision, and use #kolariphotochallenge to submit your work. Winners will be selected the first week of October. Tap into your art and soul of infrared.
Challenge Winner: Josh Kline | @joshkline3298