• Alex McNaught

A thought just struck me..

As I was fielding inquiries at the most recent markets it dawned on me the many different roles a photographer can play in someones life.

Normally I expect the selection of an image to be something appealing to that particular person, for example birds, or trees or seascapes.. and it's a great feeling to have something on hand that strikes a chord and appeal enough to purchase and take away..

..and sometimes it can be something more prosaic such as something "nice" to cover up an unappealing part of the wall and I have something on the store that is a handy size or shape to do that.

..and then sometimes it becomes something profoundly meaningful, like a recent inquiry for a particular beach where this man and his wife would regularly walk, but she passed away recently and he was after an image that would bring him closer to cherished memories.

As it happened I didn't have anything suitable either on the store or in my wider portfolio that covered that particular stretch very adequately.

So I made a promise, that I would strive in the following weeks to deliver him a selection to choose from.

So I handed him my card and exhorted him to use the contact details to send me an email so I would have somewhere to respond to and we could have a dialogue and I could send him sample images from different viewpoints with different emphases so he could guide me on what would be the best image for him.

So we begin a multi-phase process.. not spending minutes just walking to a site, taking a few pictures using the conditions at the time and then moving on.. instead it may take many days and returning again and again to deliver a final image.

So the first phase is to see what it is there is to capture, the limitations of the area, and the beneficial spots to show it at its best. Because of the geography that would mean getting up pre-dawn to use the rising sun and to be in position to assess the different viewpoints and what they might ultimately end up like as a final image.

It would also mean doing this for a number of different days to cover the main viewpoints and to have some sense of what would work best.

Once that is done then we begin a new phase.. to translate the potential into something practical using the technical aspects of photography guided by the artistic.

So that might mean thinking on how a higher tide would offer pleasing interactions with rocks in the foreground to fill out a part of the overall scene, and how a long exposure adds a surreal effect.. and how with long exposures the need for tripods, filters and counteracting any winds threatening the need for the tripod setup to be absolutely rigid during each exposure of what might be a 4, 8 or even 10 shot combination.

Of course the right light and tide can't be ordered like take-away, unfortunately, and that means being patient and returning again and again as necessary to get things at their best so a final set of images becomes the raw material for what comes next.

In the final phase, careful and subtle editing is needed to combine images and make lighting adjustments to create a single beautiful whole that may appeal and trigger a response, and hopefully succeed in playing the role of being the visual bridge between the present and the past.

As of this writing it is very much a work-in-progress, I hope that by bringing all my time and efforts to bear and create such a result, then I consider my job as the photographer in this situation is complete and I can be happy with creating one more beautiful thing.

Where I live, and a beautiful part of the Australian coastline it is, and one of my first aerial shots in exploring what new perspectives I can achieve, a post for another time then!

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