Friday, March 18, 2011

Anatomy of a Shot



It's a weird thing making images the way I do.  It's sort of like an illustrator - you make something out of nothing.  Very little of what I do is "observational" photography.  In fact, little of it is actually photographing anything the way it is - instead I just use pieces of the real world to construct a different one.  So it's like the way an illustrator would work, but instead of having the ability to draw something any way you see it I'm limited to the mimetic nature of photography - I can only photograph real things, and then construct them into something new.  It's sometimes seems as limiting as it is limitless...

I get into trouble when I fuss too much.  I'm like a teenage girl waiting for her prom date - he's running late so she fusses and fusses with her makeup and hair and by the time he shows up she looks like a scary clown.  There's really no point while retouching where I really solidly go "ok, it's done".  It's so easy to lose perspective when you put hours into an image...  I imagine it's similar to a painter putting layers of oil on a canvas... at what point do you stop correcting yourself? painting over, etc.  It's even harder with photoshop because you can literally edit forever... so when do you stop?

This is a shot I had worked on a while back... after sitting on it for a while I just didn't think the final image lived up to my expectations so I went back and did a re-edit.  In doing so I found some screenshots that I must have taken during the original process.  I think it's kind of interesting to see how these things develop so I decided to share the process a bit here.  The final version is at the top of this post and the working images are in order of the working process.












8 comments:

chrissy lynn said...

cool, thanks for sharing!

nick said...

really cool to see the progression. i think one can stop at any point and it would be 'done'...i think a good point to stop is when it has addressed its initial objective. a drawing can be really unrefined, but if it conveys a mood or concept, it can stay that way. that shot is super cool...because of its magical nature, i can see how you can spend weeks finessing each piece.

Monica said...

Where do you get the inspiration? I'm wondering simply 'cause i think you're such a talent! I really love your work :-)))

Alejo said...

Hi sir, great post and very inspiring work.

I have a question if you dont mind. When working with multiple images, does the focal length matter? I mean, if you are shooting the background at 16 mm and the person at 85 mm...doesn't it look weird and unnatural? (btw im not refering to your work) Any tips?

Thanks in advance.

KevinO said...

I like the pillows on the ground in the studio for safety!

Matt Sartain said...

Alejo,
Yes it does make a big difference. When compositing all the elements of one shot have to match the other. The better the matching the better the final shot will look. This goes for focus, focal length, aperture, lighting, etc. All the elements matter.

Gentlesam said...

It's really cool to see the different steps of your creation concept !
And the result is very interesting!
then, well done :)

Cilla Poa-Heighway said...

WoW I absolutely love it, thank you so much for sharing your process. I've just bought an entry level camera and starting to learn how to use it as well as studying Graphic Design and one of my favourite programs is photoshop. Last year we had a project consisting of three subjects, spacial, wearable and graphic design and I thoroughly enjoyed it. If you had time would you consider critiquing it? As a new designer it's great that experienced ones share.