Helping others – The Phil Jacobs Benefit Auction

Those that know me will know that I often end up helping others. In fact for about 7 years I was a volunteer member of the Adobe Community experts programme that supported Dreamweaver developers.

So it should come as no surprise that when I heard about the appeal to help Phil Jacobs that I just had to help by offering both my time and an image. This shot, which was taken just south of Palmerston North earlier in the year, was framed and at the auction tonight sold for $200.00. It was one of 66 images that went under the hammer.



Misty Morn

How do you look at images

Earlier this year a lady on a Facebook forum posted an image and invited comments. I told her honestly that I did not like it as the highlights were seriously blown, there was no focal point in the image and that it did nothing for me. She took a little umbrage at this because for her the image was fine. The reason for this though had to do with the back story behind the image that I was not aware of. Because there was nothing in the image that grabbed my attention I had judged it essentially on the technical merits.

This was further brought into focus when I helped out with the Phil Jacobs Benefit. Donated to be auctioned where images by some well known New Zealand photographers and in fact one of the images came from a reasonable well known set. What struck me was that several images if entered into a competition today would likely be given a “not accepted” grade. So this got me thinking about what makes a good image and how should we view it.

I believe that when we shoot with our cameras we essentially have the choice to take snapshots, documentary images or create photographic images. When entering an image in a competition the last thing you want to hear the judge say is that it is a snapshot because generally it is a derogatory terms in such circles.

But what is the difference and why it is important. Basically I am going to define the terms as such.

This image was deemed to be a snapshot in a competiton entitled "In the Kitchen"
This image was deemed to be a snapshot in a competiton entitled “In the Kitchen”

A snapshot is a photo that records a person, event or location that’s primary purpose it to capture a point in time. The main value is the image lies not in what is on the screen (or paper) but rather in the emotional connection that the viewer has with the background that the image represents. As the adage that a bad photo is better than no photo totally applies to snapshots, we will accept poorly composed, or lighted images.

A documentary image is also a photo that records a person, event or location however it is not intended to stand alone but rather it will be used along either text or other images to tell the story of the event. Sometimes these images are strong enough to stand alone but not always and again the same adage as above applies.

Same category of the competition but the judge liked this image
Same category of the competition but the judge liked this image

A photographic image is also a photo that records a person, event or location, however the image is strong enough to not rely on a knowledge of the background story. A photograph also has to be technically perfect to the level that the photographer was attempting.

So does this matter. Bruce Girdwood who is a very talented photographer and judge spoke to the Hutt Camera Club earlier in the year and he stated that you should make images based on what you like and not what another judge thinks because ultimately it is you that you are trying to please.

Trash the Dress Workshop

“Trash the Dress’ is a concept that arrived from America a number of years ago. Basically it is a series of photo taken of the bride in her gown well after the wedding in which she does things that would send her into major fits if they were done on the wedding day. They do necessarily involve water, but given our proximity to it they generally do.

Some months ago a Facebook group was set up to encourage photographers to get together and stage some shoot. The closest one to me was organised for Greytown in the Wairarapa by Masterton photographer Liz Rikiti. Liz really excelled arranging for 7 models, hair and makeup and an excellent venue fully catered that gave up a wide range of different locations to shoot in. She spent months buying dresses on TradeMe.

In the morning we concentrated on shots that were slight more traditional in that the dresses did not get too soiled but then after lunch it was all on with our “brides” ending up in a pond, in mud and in the creek. At the end one was even covered in paint, which unfortunately I was not able to stay around for. All of the girls were great and all seemed to be having a lot of fun, which ultimately is the whole idea behind a TTD shoot.

Although the images below were taken in a workshop situation, so it is likely you will find similar ones on the internet, in all cases the models were posed by me.