Story and Photographs © Art Ketchem
|Creating a photographic style is probably one of the
most difficult things to define and create photographically. For many years I knew I
wanted to create a unique photographic style like many of the big name photographers I
would read about in books and magazines. Names like Ansel Adams, Bert Stern, Avedon,
Robert Farber, Diane Arbus, Jeanloup Sieff, Art Kane, Helmut Newton, and the many dozens
of other equally great photographers that have developed unique photographic styles. How
did they do it? It took a long time for me to figure out how to develop a style, but after
many years of photographing people, I have finally figured out my style.
|Through all the many years I have been in photography, I have discovered a
style emerges after creating hundreds or possibly thousands of images. You begin to do
many of the same things over and over and apply your personality into your photography.
Deborah Turbeville has created a style that is unique to her, using elaborate room
settings with high fashion models and exotic lighting. Helmut Newton style is to use high
fashion models in bizarre poses and usually adding an erotic element to his images. Each
of the names I have mentioned above have also created their own unique style.
|Most styles are created by seeing other peoples
photography and emulating the images you see. I know in my case I have always been
fascinated by poster art and poster photography. I want the image I create to be strong
enough to be considered for a cover shot or poster. Creating an image intense enough
requires some planning, the right model or subject, a pose that is dramatic and dynamic,
lighting that is well balanced and designed to create a separation from the subject and
background, giving a three dimensional feeling to your image. The image you create may
also require staging or set design to build the dynamics of your image.
|One piece of advice I give to photographers that attend my Seminars and
Workshops that I have given all over the country is to start building an idea file. You
can not remember hundreds of different poses, unique lighting situations and great idea
photos you will see. When I see a great photo that I may want to build on, or an image
that some very creative photographer has produced. I save the image in my idea file, if I
feel it has merit in my future photography. When I am shooting with a model or subject
that I believe may be able to work with me on one of these ideas, I brainstorm with my
model and try to create a poster type image. The image may never be produced into a
poster, but I want people to see my photography and recognize it as an Art Ketchum Photo.
The image may hang on someones wall, be in a models portfolio or composite and
eventually may be produced into a cover shot, or an article like the one you are reading.
|When I show my portfolio to potential new clients
they realize I do the type of photography that fits their catalog cover requirements and
my ideas are powerful enough to make into possible posters they may wish to create. The
image of the Dancer with the intentional blurring is my latest creation for the cover of
one of my clients catalogs. When I was asked to create these ethereal dance images, my
assistant and I did over 500 images in less than 4 hours and the net result was that I was
given an award by the New York Art Directors Guild for one of the top 100 photo designs in
the country over the many thousands of entries.
in this article were produced for various reasons, sometimes the model needed an image for
her portfolio and in many cases I decided to create an image for myself or a client I was
working with. While most of my photography is done in color for my clients, I personally
like to work in Black & White because of its timeless beauty. Through the many
years that I have been involved in commercial photography I have produced hundreds of
catalogs, have many magazine covers to my credit and produced calendars and posters for my
clients and myself. If there is one common thread in all my photography, it is my desire
to create three dimensional lighting.
The Studio Images were in many cases produced for Backdrop Outlet
for their catalog and you can see hundreds of my images and get a FREE catalog by calling
1 (800) 466-1755.
|While photography is basically a two dimensional medium, it is not
difficult to create three dimensional lighting by using background lights, hair lights and
rim lighting. In order to style my images I look for symmetry in posing using diagonals
rather than verticals or horizontals, I look for the S-curves and try to use the triangle
method of posing with groups. In most cases I suggest a make-up artist for my model as it
will add a professionalism to my finished images and create a more professional look for
my model or client. My lighting style outdoors is the same as in the studio. Create more
light behind the subject that the light that falls on the subjects face, that will give
you three dimensional lighting. Simple, but not used by many photographers, all it takes
is a small Vivitar, Sunpack, Nissin or one of the many on camera flashes that allows you
to choose an F:Stop on the flash that is one stop more open than the background light.
Almost all the outdoor images illustrated were created with my Sunpak 383 or my larger
Nissin Professional handle mount flash on my Hasselblad, Pentax or Contax to create the
images illustrated with one stop less light than the sun created as backlight, and this
simple technique gave me the separation I wanted in my finished image.
|The most important tool for doing any type of flash
or creative photography is a good incident daylight and flash meter. By attending one of
my seminars or workshops you will come away with a new outlook on creative lighting
whether it is in studio or outdoors. But the important thing is to realize how film sees
your subject not how you see. Film has very limited ability to see slightly more than 2
F:Stops while it has been reported the human eye has the capability to see about 11
Applying the same basic rules to outdoor
photography or Studio photography will give you the same spectacular results. Three
dimensional lighting and images that appear to jump off the page with hair that does not
look like you applied it with a felt tip marker.
|When I experiment with a new idea or concept, I show my clients what I am
working on and in many cases I am asked to do images with my new style for my clients
catalogs and other projects they are planning. By always experimenting with new posing and
lighting ideas, it keeps me on the cutting edge with my clients and allows me to keep when
other photographers are losing clients.
Almost all of the
images reproduced in this article were produced with Hasselblad 2000 FCW cameras, Pentax
PZ-1 or Contax G-2 cameras and various lenses, all images are tested with Polaroid Pro 100
film. All the studio photos were created with White Lighting Ultras. To create the dynamic
lighting I want in almost all of my photography, whenever possible, I use a hairlight
and/or background light to give my images the three dimensional quality I want in my
images to create my signature style of lighting.
|Creating your own photographic style will come from
emulating other photographers work and experimenting with different techniques in lighting
and shooting. But most important is to keep shooting and trying new ideas on your
subjects. And start your own idea file.
||Don't Miss Arts Great New Book "
information about Art Ketchum workshops see the Events Section. For more information on
Art Ketchum the photographer please visit our Faculty
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