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Concept of shooting the $2million image

Martin Turner (Martin Turner)


Keywords: martin_turner, studiophotography, concept, planning, composition, lighting, shooting, postprocessing, pro, professional_photography, studio

This is the second part of the series Studio Photography: Shooting the $2million image.

Concept beats everything else in studio photography. I want to share with you an image shot outdoors, in the dark, with no lights, no photographic equipment apart from a camera and a tripod, but which epitomises the studio method.

We shot the image for a Christmas campaign about five years ago. It may look old-fashioned now, but the trend for this kind of image was just coming in. Almost all of the pictures you saw done this way were either done badly in software, or ‘look at what I’ve done’ images that weren’t about anything in particular.

The key to powerful and effective studio photography is not to begin with the image at all. The image comes last, as the end of the process.

For years now I have been sharing with people a simple method for developing these concepts.

The diagram shows how the four essential components of any kind of communication relate to each other. If you are trying to achieve something, then there has to be an outcome. If you are communicating, there must be an audience. There must be something you intend to say or show, the message. Finally, there must be a physical process by which that message reaches your audience, the delivery.

Photographers typically start with the delivery. We like to think what kind of image will be striking, or what kind of technique will challenge or interest us. However, this approach will produce a great, but probably ineffective image.

To create effective studio photography, we need to start instead with the outcome: looking back at the end of a successful campaign, what will we have achieved? An outcome is a goal with its method of evaluation built into the way it is expressed. For this particular campaign, the outcome was that 300-400 people would attend a Christmas event. With the particular organisation, 200 people could probably be gathered just by word of mouth. Over 400 and the venue would be too small.

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