when i met phillip ritchie he explained his process to me and it was such a deviation from my own process that i was intrigued. he had a vision and pieced everything together around that vision. he got the model, the mua, the set design, like pieces in a puzzle and shot the necessary number of images to get the vision. if he got it then he was done. it's such a different approach from the photojournalist process of a wedding day or the flow posing and experimentation of boudoir photography. and the only person he aims to please is himself. it seems so selfish and yet the results are amazing and the process is efficient.
phillip has taken me on as student, he my mentor and last night was our first session. i had no idea what to expect. i don't think we really talked about it or defined it which put me to a disadvantage. the unknown is a scary thing and the imagination can go crazy. i was intimidated to say the least. the man is a master of his craft and i would be vulnerable in sharing my process or lack thereof. how much i was going to share on the first round was one of my concerns. do i come to the table with my usual arsenal of how i do things or do i break myself down completely to open up to his process entirely? i opted for the latter with one exception. i didn't put much thought into the model and mua situation. as i usually do with my clients i gave carte blanche to my model to take care of her clothes, styling, etc. my only request was that i wanted something glamorous and trusted that she would pull through as i knew she would. whoops. mistake number one and phillip was quick to point it out. "who are you doing this for and why are you doing it?" it was a reminder that if it's my portfolio build and my shoot (with no client to please) then i need to be the one directing everything from head to toe. TAKE THE TIME TO PLAN.
i learned three things from him last night:
- shoot with intent - plan the image and work towards that plan
- be meticulous - care about it enough to think about every aspect that would make the image good
- be tenacious - work towards the best possible version of the image
i made myself completely vulnerable, prepared to take on his process as he walked me through it. i tried holding off injecting my own usual methods because the point was to learn his. it was humbling, humiliating and effective. as we progressed it started to dawn on me that many of the things he does, i already do. our environments are little different, our subjects and purpose are different, but the method itself has the same foundation. like any student, i cannot take his method in its entirety and make it mine. i have to find the pieces that work for me and insert it into my style and make it my own.
after breaking myself down for this i had to put myself back together and evaluate what just happened. the biggest lesson i learned as i tucked myself into bed and reflected on the night ... i am a good photographer. there's always room for improvement and last night i was given some lessons to help.
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