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ZugaPhoto.TV is the first broadband network on the Internet dedicated to photography and one of the most popular photography portals on the Internet. Its original programming ranges from portraits to landscapes to glamour with an emphasis on understanding digital photography. It is pure education, and pure entertainment, delivered by a stable of the world's best photographers.
I'm very excited because this week at ZugaPhoto.TV we launched the only online Pay Per View network with photography shows from the world's best photographers! It's very cool. You should check out some of our Free Video Previews. Read on to see how you can get some Free Stuff from Zuga as well in honor of this special occasion! And of course the How to Take Great Pictures DVD is also available from RitzCamera.com and Zuga. When I started out shooting more than three decades ago, I didn't have the benefit of the kind of programming and teaching provided at ZugaPhoto.TV, I assure you…!
…and, after 35 years as a professional photographer and making images for clients as diverse as Revlon, Ford, Esquire and Harper’s Bazaar, you can bet I’ve got some pretty strong opinions about this art of ours. As a pro, I know there’s something more important than pleasing myself; more important than liking my own photographs. I’ve got to please the viewer. It’s the viewer, or the subject, or the client...who determines the success or failure of an image. That’s true for my images and it’s true for your images as well. As a professional it was quite evident, that If my pictures weren’t liked, I didn’t eat. Even as an amateur, you’ve got to think with that same sort of dedication...or else you won’t improve.
Although I love every aspect of photography, there is nothing tougher or more difficult to master than the photography of people--regardless of whether we’re talking about capturing children at a birthday party, a fashion image or a classic portrait. And regardless of whether your medium is film or a pixels...the keys for capturing image beauty and making people look their best will never change. Believe it or not, there are some strong formulas and guidelines to help you along...so it’s not just a matter of luck.
This month’s RitzCamera newsletter shows photographs I made some years back of three women with legendary beauty...Elizabeth Taylor, Farrah Fawcett and Kay Sutton York. Are these ladies picky about how they look? That’s a rhetorical question, because everybody is picky about how they look. These images are what I call Mixed-Media prints. The manipulations you see here were made long before Photoshop was on everybody's computer. You can call these "Polaroid transfers with a bit of extra seasoning." But before we discuss this cool technique of playing with paint and Polaroid films, let’s talk about how the images were made and the thinking behind them.
it doesn't matter if you're printing through texture screens, or selenium
toning, or using Photoshop on your computer. All that after-the-moment-of
exposure stuff doesn’t mean a darn--if you didn’t capture
an original image that the individual likes. So first, you’ve got
to stay in the moment...and get it on the film or pixels. Once you have
an image that’s liked (and hopefully, loved), you’re ready
to rock n roll and do all that cool image manipulation stuff (if you want
to). Again, if you want a shortcut to success, watch some top pros shoot
on our shows at ZugaPhoto.TV.
The image of Farrah was made on slow, fine-grained transparency film with my camera on a tripod (even though the shutter was set at 1/125 and 1/250). Tripods just allow me to concentrate more on my composition so I use them whenever I can.
This is the system I used for making the Polaroid Mixed-Media Images appearing in this issue of the RitzCamera.com newsletter.
Using Polaroid Type 809 Professional film, I begin by exposing the image accurately, then pull the backing from the emulsion after 30 seconds of development time, and immediately transfer the emulsion to saturated water-color paper with a Hunt Speedball roller. I use a sheet of .030 aluminum as the base under the roller.
Using a 16x20 processing tray, I allow the Arches water-color paper (140 pound 100% cotton cold-pressed) to become completely saturated in a mixture of distilled water to which I've added a small amount of baking soda. I roll the roller across the back 3 times in one direction only, and leave it untouched until it is removed after exactly 1 minute.
Once the paper is removed, I begin introducing the paint pigment--a combination of watercolors, Marshall Oils, and Acrylics, applied with everything from brushes, to sponges, to palette knives. If you're doing portraits--and retouching is needed--do it with a single edged razor blade and blend the edges with your fingers.
Allow the finished piece to air-dry (I place the prints on carpeting). After drying, I introduce additional highlights by hand with acrylic paints or by etching the paper. When the original is completed, I copy the finished version on transparency material (if a Cibachrome print is desired) or negative material if an Ektacolor print is desired. Naturally there are a wealth of digital variations as well.