What goes into a professional photograph?

Put sim­ply: a pho­to­graph is a snap­shot of a moment in time. They are per­son­al to the tak­er while the result can pro­vide a visu­al souvenir…

And it is this that makes them such a special art form. Whether taken by an amateur with minimal or no set-up, or by a professional who can massage their environment, it can capture a split second that human observation will sometimes miss. 

But returning to its roots, to ask ‘what is photography?’ is to ask a vast and emphatic question. In layman's terms, it describes capturing light with a camera to create an image. 

But a photograph’s real charm is that it can capture a connection, emotion, feeling, or any other slight, often underlying, nuance. And as Warhol hints at below, that picture forever stays the same, even when its subjects change over time.

"The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people in it do".

Andy Warhol

Surrey Model Fashion Charlotte

Visual Species

Both imagery and words play such a big part in how we consume information, but primarily, we are a visual species and it is believed that it takes us just 13 milliseconds to identify any image. 

The first permanent photograph was captured in 1826 (some sources say 1827) by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in France. It simply shows a roof of a building lit by the sun. 

And it was clear from this very moment that interpretation would play a key part in how photographs are received. 

And in our current climate, for any kind of setting or industry that you can think of there is likely a style of photography associated with it: landscape, aerial, sports, architectural, fashion, etc., — this list is so very broad. 

While in a professional capacity, photographers thrive in such environments and understand the techniques required to bring them to life in a still shot.

Mark ACCA Magazine 023

Less is More

We have worked with commercial photographer Nick Bond on several projects and we spoke to him about his trade. 

He explained that there is more to photography than merely aiming the lens and firing. Client expectations are a constant challenge, but these are just one of the complexities of a professional shoot. 

“They've (the client) a massive list of images to capture within the given day and you simply need more time to set up each shot. It's generally best to try to manage the expectations by guiding them through the visual process to deliver less images but better composition. 

“It's far better to have say 20-30 great shots rather than several hundred rushed, or not appropriate ones.”

Having studied photography design, Nick then initially focused his career on design, and it was the visual aspect of creative design that he really enjoyed, and now he is now unequivocal about his preferred photographic style. 

“In portrait photography, it is 'open aperture'. Whereby the eyes are pin sharp, however, the surroundings of the face are out of focus along with the outfit — this technique delivers a really striking portrait, yet it looks natural.”

Charlie 2395 Sml

And when asked about a typical day of portrait location photography, Nick was clear that preparation and groundwork is as important as the creative aspect, while hinting at the intricacies that go into getting the right shots.

“On arrival, I'd set up pro lights and paper backdrop, this takes around 20 minutes, conduct several test shots and we're ready. Ideally, I'd allow 15-20 minutes per person for a stylish business portrait, which can be longer due to outfit changes.”

Though upon packing up his equipment the process is far from finished, as he then returns to his studio and reviews his shots while applying some gentle finessing.

“The 'selected' portraits need to be colour balanced and then hand retouched to remove blemishes and enhance the eyes, whiten the teeth etc.”

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Royal Focus

Nick also explained that his subjects — even those with royal blood — can sometimes prove as problematic as anything that equipment or settings can inject into the process.

“Having photographed Princess Ann on three separate occasions, each time, she's always been very camera shy. 

"She'll never look directly into the camera and has the ability to keep moving out of shot — quite a challenge, but respect and patience generally pay off.” 

Princess Ann MG 0067

With such vast opportunities, subjects and environments; from architecture to aviation, and business portraits to property, Nick is always busy. He is continually foraging for new ways to approach fresh challenges within this multifaceted, truly unique and complex profession.

Thanks to Nick for his time and you can find more of his work here:

The Guildford Photographer

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