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Life Before Photoshop: Kawasaki Shoot

Look Ma, no Photoshop.

Look Ma, no Photoshop.

Back in the old days, when I was shooting film (that would be right after fire was invented), I never thought anything about shooting everything “in the camera”. I didn’t think anything about it because there were no other options available. It was a way of life and that was that.

If an Art Director called me to work on a project, he expected me to come up with whatever solution there was to come back with a great photo. If I couldn’t do it, there were plenty of other top shooters that could. Sometimes his job and certainly my reputation was on the line. That old adage that you were only as good as your last photo was true, at least in the eyes of most advertising agencies across the country.

The key was to give the agency just enough of your idea to “wet their whistle”. If you gave them too much, they might take your ideas and pass them along to another photographer who charged less…sound cheesy? It was, but that’s the way it went way back when.

A big part of my love for photography was in the planning stages. That’s where all the crazy ideas came from. That’s when I thought up as many ideas as I could, because most of them were not feasible. Thinking up ideas in the studio, and making them happen on location were two different animals.

In my online class with the PPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet, I want my students to do as much in the camera as they can. That’s where the challenge is, not in front of a computer with the help of Photoshop. I want them to become good photographers, not good computer artists.

Coming up with an idea in your imagination, and seeing it become a reality is the best feeling in the world…well almost the best feeling!!!

In the above photo taken for Kawasaki, the Art Director wanted the feeling of speed, and taken from the point of view of the person riding the four-wheeler. I decided on the huge forests in the Pacific Northwest because of all the trails designated for those machines. Once there, my assistants helped me rig my camera with a 20mm lens on it to my chest with a whole lot of duct take so that It was ‘hands-free’. I ran a long electronic cable release from the camera, up my sleeve to my hand inside the glove.

As I was driving through all the trails, I was firing my motor drive at the same time. I shot just about every combination of shutter speed and aperture as I could so we would have choices in the amount of blur and motion. It was great fun!!!! A lot more fun than the quick and easy way it would probably be done now. It would either be done on a blue screen in a studio, or we would just sit the four-wheeler on a path, shoot it, and add the motion and speed in post production…HOW BORING!!!!!

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com and check out my 2013 workshop schedule at the top of this Blog. Come shoot and have fun with me sometime.

Don’t forget to send a photo and question to: AskJoeB@gmail.com.


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    { 2 comments… add one }
    • Gary Thursby April 5, 2013, 1:27 am

      Hey Joe! 
      I think it’s really cool you taped the camera to your chest firing it remotely. Proves cameras are just tools to create our visions and not something to put on a pedestal and lust over! Ohh I want the camera with the red dot on it, hardly ever shoot it and then take boring photos with it. The speed of the quad and slower shutter speed really gives a sense of energy, excitement and motion. I like it!

      • Joe April 6, 2013, 9:05 am

        Thanks Gary,

        It’s sooooo much fun to create an idea in your head on the spot, then make it happen in the camera. Plus the fact that you’ve actually accomplished something. In my opinion far better than sitting in front of a computer to do the same thing….boring!!!!!!!!

        I’m only interested in being a great photographer, not a great digital/computer artist.


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