The Value of a Smile
It’s been quite a while since my last blog entry, but I have something I want to say. As a portrait photographer, smiles are of great importance to me. However, not all smiles are ‘created equal’ in value. Let me explain.
There are different smiles for different people in different situations for different reasons. Some smiles are esthetically prettier than others. This is not relevant and what I am talking about at all. Some smiles are genuine, while others are simply someones ‘in front of the camera smiley face’. A natural, genuine smile in a photo is the obviously better look. As a photographer, it is part of my job to help my subjects pull that off.
There are lots of other situations where one smiles. The smile I truly value as a photographer, is the one I see on a client’s face when viewing the photos I made for them, especially when given with words of praise for a job well done.
Recently, I did a photoshoot with a handicapped young lady who wanted some portraits of herself for her boyfriend.
After the studio session she sent me the following e-mail:
Thanks. I appreciate how patient and helpful you've been through all of this. Most people take advantage of my vision problems. It was refreshing to have someone work with me. If ever I have friend's express an interest in having professional photos taken, I'll definitely recommend Magic Star as the place to do business.
I was very touched by her words. To me this meant a lot. I also found it disappointing, if not, downright disgusting that people do take advantage of someone like her. I don’t know how they live with themselves.
Anyway, the point is this. Yesterday, I delivered her finished prints to her. She and her mother had smiles on their faces that had far more value to me than any price I could have charged!
Photography is truly an art form. I am not the kind of artist who can paint or draw. I can’t even draw a straight line. However, a beautiful photo is an art form, whether it be of a scenic landscape, a portrait, wildlife, or whatever. In my case, portraiture and sports photography have been my only forms of artwork up until a few months ago.
Recently I learned some tricks with photo software where I can take a photo of something like a flower and manipulate it into a piece of abstract art. My partner thinks I am talented! Me, I’m not so sure, but take a look at a couple of these and decide for yourself.
I’m sure they are not for everyone’s taste, but many people do seem to like them.
If you would like to see more of this let me know. You can email me at MagicStarPhoto@hotmail.com. If I find that people like them I will consider selling them online.
If you are still with me, thanks for reading my blog. I’ll add another chapter soon.
Click on the thumbnail below...
I was telling a friend of mine that I was doing a senior photo shoot. He asked if I do a lot of portraits of old people. When I stopped laughing, I explained that I was talking about High School Seniors (as opposed to people my age). But, to be fair, I do shoot lots of portraits of “old people” too. Anyone from an infant to a grandparent, if they are in the range of my lens, well, that’s what I do.
So anyway I had this very nice young man who is about to graduate from high school come to my studio for his Senior Portrait Session. He came with his grandma, a very nice lady who hired me for the shoot. The young man is planning to go into the military after graduating. He likes to hunt, so I told him to bring his rifle if he promised not to shoot me. He assured me that it would not be loaded, and he kept his word.
I was really impressed with his politeness and maturity for a boy his age. I know grandma is very proud of him for good reason.
I took my photos of him in various poses with different outfits in my studio. Then we went outside in my backyard to do some outdoor shots of him with his rifle and hunting attire.
A good hunter usually has a trusty hunting dog at his side (not that I know the 1st thing about hunting). My idea of hunting is trying to find a decent restaurant that’s not too crowded. Well he didn’t have his dog with him, so we substituted Slider the Wonder Dog. You know if you read Chapter III that he is one of my favorite models. We armed this young man with doggie treats to get Slider’s attention and cooperation.
Here is a shot I took of them together.
As you can see they became friends quickly, and I was able to get a few nice shots of them.
I thought the shoot went very well and they were well pleased with the resulting photos. It was a fun afternoon for all, but mostly for Slider. When the shoot was over, Slider looked disappointed as they left, so I had to give him a couple more treats to cheer him up.
Thanks for reading my newest addition. The next one will be a total surprise, because right now I haven’t a clue what it will be about.
“My Favorite Photography Models”
I would love to say that my girlfriend and partner, Magee is my favorite model to photograph. However, that would be a lie. Getting her in front of the camera is like getting me to eat broken glass. She whines and complains, makes faces like she is in pain, often puts her hand in front of her face, middle finger extended with the ‘Bronx Salute’. I don’t need that kind of photo. I will admit, if given enough wine, I can sometimes get her to allow me a good shot.
That being said my most cooperative model is my cat, Tucker. Even if he scowls, he will pose for me, but usually enjoys the attention.
Slider, our cute little beagle, who isn’t always totally agreeable to posing, (he would prefer to run amok and chase Tucker or chew on something expensive), will often give me some great photo ops. Some of my favorite shots of him are just snapshots I get when he least expects it. I think he and Tucker are very photogenic, as long as I can keep them relatively still while I click the shutter.
I have used them as models for testing new lenses, flashes and other photo equipment. They never really complain or give me the ‘salute’.
Some photographers pay big money for models. I just give mine treats, biscuits, and love. They seem happy with that, although lately Slider does ask for trips to the Dog Park at the most inconvenient times possible. I guess we owe him a one soon.
I really love to shoot photos of animals. I like doing pet portraits as much as I like doing humans. It is just a different type of challenge, in many ways easier. I never have to worry about an animal complaining that my photo didn’t capture his good side, or made him look fat. With people, obviously I have had to learn proper techniques to avoid that sort of thing. Lighting and posing becomes far more critical, as does the perception of the subject. Like any pro photographer, I have had to learned how to do that. It is a different type of skill, but I really enjoy doing it because when people see themselves in the portraits I do, and I see them smile and tell me that is the best photo they ever saw of themselves, it really makes me feel great. I get a tremendous feeling of satisfaction from getting those reactions from my clients.
My next chapter will be about a photo shoot I just completed. I hope you find my stories interesting and come back for more of my ramblings. Thanks for your interest.
"The Real Truth About Who's Fault it is That I Play Baseball”
It all started on Christmas Eve, 2009. My girlfriend headed south in her car to do some last minute shopping, while I headed north to do the same. I called her to see if she wanted to meet for dinner. We picked a restaurant about half way between us. She got there first and started a conversation with the girl behind the bar.
Somehow, the conversation turned to baseball. The lady mentioned that her boyfriend plays ball in a league for guys over 55 years old.
Well, I walked in and when I heard that, I thought that if I was in better physical shape, that would be fun! My girlfriend Magee is of the belief that if it is fun and the only thing keeping me from doing it is the fact that I am physically disabled, I should go for it!!!
Well, go for it I did. We got the necessary contact information for the team this man, Raul played on. His girlfriend said to call him around the 1st of March. The rest of the winter, that was pretty much all I could think about. I weighed enough for two ballplayers, but started to shed some of it.
I went to the tryout, an overweight out of shape guy, who at one time had a pretty good arm for pitching, but the day of the tryout, I found out that my once strong arm was now like the arm of a little girl who never threw a ball before! That was a shock.
Anyway, they were a totally awesome bunch of guys and didn’t even make fun of me, (not too much anyway), and added me and one of my best friends, Joe to the team! Boy was I delighted, even though as a ballplayer, I really sucked.
I’ve been playing ever since. I’m still overweight, but not as much. My arm is starting to get a little better. I still suck, but I am having a blast! I play on a different team now on Saturdays with a bunch of total lunatics. These guys are so much fun to be around. Every one of them can make me laugh until it hurts, but we have an awesome team. Even when we lose, we have a ball.
Last year when Larry, our manager was taking some photos, I told him that I am a photographer. He and some of my teammates encouraged me to bring my camera to the games. Finally, they found a way to make me productive on the field!
Oh, they still let me play, because they are great guys, but when I am on the bench, I take photos during the game and afterwards when we go out to party a local pizza place after the game.
They liked my photos so much, that they advised me to make CD’s of them and sell them to the guys.
More importantly, through baseball, my girlfriend and I made some really great friends. I’ve been so lucky to have met these great people who have become like an extended family to us.
The bottom line is, if Magee hadn’t met Raul’s girlfriend, I’d still be obese, bored and without all of really awesome people in my life that I met while playing in the league, so it’s all her fault that I play baseball. Thank you Magee!
The next installment will be “My Favorite Photography Models”
My name is Dave Levin. I would like to tell you a little about myself and how & why I became a photographer. Most of my life, I enjoyed looking at and taking photos. Several years ago, people actually started telling me something I did not know. They said I was really good at it!
I retired from being a TV repairman after an injury, that at the time left me in a state my doctors called "Permanently Disabled". I have always had great disdain for the medical profession due to my personal experiences. Because of this contempt for the diagnosis, I was not willing to be this handicapped individual forever. I got myself to the point that I was determined to have fun even if it kills me. Over time I was able to recover to the point that I was able to do physical things that doctors said I would never do again.
In March of 2010, I guess my insanity led me to start playing baseball again as I did years ago, (only with much less skill), in a league I thought was for old farts. Well, I was partially right. The league is for men over 55 years old. I was definitely old enough to join. What I did not know was that I was the old fart playing with guys about my age who really are not old farts. Many of them are really good athletic ballplayers.
Two years later, I started playing with another team in a similar but younger league, where I began taking action photos of my teammates and some of our opposing players. The guys loved the photos so much that they talked me into charging them to make CD's of their photos.
My niece got married a couple of years ago and urged me to bring my camera to the wedding. They had a hired team of photographers there, but wound up liking many of my photos better than the ones they got from the hired crew. I will never do a wedding as a gig. For my niece it was a pleasure because I had no pressure and gave the family all the photos they wanted as a gift.
The self-satisfaction I get from the positive way my photos have been received got me to thinking it is time to come out of retirement. As a result, I have diligently studied photography, photo editing & restoration and continue to do so. Now, I would like to share what I can do as a professional. Who knows, I may even make money at it!
I'll be back with more soon. The next installment is "The Real Truth About Who's Fault it is That I Play Baseball".
MagicStar Photography of Loganville