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KJ and Cara – Art, Photoshop and Story telling

Part 4 of Stories behind the Photos. This a photo of one of my daughters and her dog Cara, it was taken at Cara’s 1st birthday party which was complete with doggie friends, doggie games, specially made doggie donuts and of course cake … and no, I also had no idea birthday parties for dogs was a thing either !?

This photo won a first place and a Champion photo at the local show this year, but to be honest this is more of a ‘snap shot’ than a portraiture but I really feel likes it captures something of their character and the kind of bond they share.  There was a nice soft afternoon light falling and got the two of them on the grass with the light falling gently behind them which brings a nice highlight around their outlines. We didn’t have a lot of time so I took a few quick frames before they went of to continue the festivities.

What you (hopefully) don’t see in this photo is that is actually two photos that have been blended in Photoshop. If you have ever taken a photo of more than one person you’ll understand the difficulties in getting everyone looking in the same direction at the same time with an appropriate expression on their face, and the challenge get exponentially harder as you increase the number of people. And if you have ever photographed a hyperactive puppy you’ll understand that large groups of people are comparatively easy! So the face of Cara is actually from another frame which I have re-positioned and blended in so it looks natural – I chose the two frames which gave me the closest depiction of what that moment was like and tried to create an image that captured that.

The use  of Photoshop and other editing tools often stirs up controversy and a variety of opinions. ‘Photoshopped’ has come to mean fake and people frown on ‘doctoring’ your photos by the use of editing tools, they hearken back the the days of film where images were ‘pure’.  In my humble opinion these are grossly misguided positions. They ignore the significant work that went into customising developing film ‘back in the day’ , the use of a wide variety of techniques that were used to make prints to enhance contrast, make parts lighter or darker and so on. They ignore the editing that your camera does for you; After it captures the raw data your camera by default adds contrast, sharpening, contrast, lens correction and a whole host of adjustments to produce what it thinks is the best version of that data. All that a photo editor does is make those decisions themselves and doesn’t allow the camera to dictate what the image should look like.

But I think this image shows something more significant that gets ignored in the debate; the story. When I take an image I am trying to show you something about the world, whether it’s the incredible detail on the skeleton of a leaf, the tender care of a bird tending its young, the awe inspiring beauty of a sunrise, or in this case a shared moment between a girl and her dog. This image tells that story, to me it captures the enigmatic creativity of my daughter, the fiercely independent nature of Cara and yet they strong connection they share and finally there is a moment of connection with the viewer which always leaves me asking ‘What’s going on in that head of hers?’

The fact that this comes two frames is actually irrelevant to my mind – this composited image actually tells the story of that moment much better than any single frame ever could.

I’d love to hear your thoughts…

or share with your friends and see what they think?


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