A Clean Style

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I recently bought a pack of VSCO filters. I have yet to use any of them.

For those who don’t know, VSCO are post-processing filters that replicate a selection of the best and most popular film photography from back in the day. It supposedly gives modern digital photography a vintage film look.

Normally I like this look. Filters like VSCO and others get flack from some photographers because they believe it is a lazy post-processing technique, or that people are simply using these filters to copy popular Instagram or Tumblr looks without developing their own style.

From what I understand, most good photographers can uses these preset filters as a starting point only, and then alter and adjust as needed until they have something that matches their own style, or the needs of a client.  VSCO is just another tool in the toolbox.

I take back my original statement: I have used one VSCO filters a total of four times.  Here is one example.

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I started with a filter that simulated old Tri-X black and white film, and tweeked until I got something I liked.

But, for some reason, I just can’t bring myself to do that with other photographs, especially photographs of people.

I like a simple style. I have tried to cultivate a simple style.  I have worked very hard to never rely on fancy edits or post-processing trickery.  From searching for basic geometric shapes that exist in suburbia air-conditionerlight-pole-shadowsuburban-mailbox

to trying to get the cleanest, straightforward shots of cars and other cool stuff, I like to think of my style as bare bones, letting the objects and colors speak for themselves.

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Sometimes I watch cooking shows.  I don’t cook, but my wife does, which means when she is watching cooking shows, I’m watching cooking shows.  While never actually learning how to cook, I have learned one thing from watching cooking shows; when you start with really great ingredients, a good cut of beef or fresh vegetables, you don’t need to do a lot to them to make a great meal.  If the ingredients are delicious to start with, you’re most of the way there.  In fact, pouring heavy sauces or using too many spices over good ingredients can actually serve to wreck a decent meal.

This is how I approach my photography.  I want to start off with something great in camera.

This doesn’t mean I don’t do post-processing work.  It means I work to make sure my post-processing work isn’t noticed.  Sharpening, gradations, dodging & burning, cloning, curves adjustments, these are all tools in my toolbox that help me create the best final image possible.  But my goal is never to draw attention to these edits. My goal is to make sure you, the viewer, never notice them.  I can do several dozens of tweeks, adjustments and changes to a final image, hundreds even, and my hope is that you’ll never be the wiser.

I like a clean style.

On Inspiration

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When I started Generator Photography I didn’t have any concrete goals or specific metrics laid out to gauge success or failure, but I did have a fair idea of what I wanted to do, and a general direction of where I wanted to go.  Maybe that’s not the best way to start something, but I reasoned that if I waited around to formally form a business plan, with everything that entails, I would have never got started.  And, at 45, time isn’t necessarily on my side.

I felt it was better to just jump in and see if I could swim later.

However, within these vague goals and ill-defined plans, there have been things that have come up that I would have never anticipated.  In a million years.

In the last few months, I have had several people contact me and tell me how I’ve inspired them.  Either someone has seen my Blurb books and said I have inspired them to start organizing and showing their own photographs, or they have seen a particular shot of mine and told me they have tried to emulate it in their own photography.

This, friends, blows me away.  Hand over heart, I would have never seen that one coming.

And it makes everything so worth it.

So, I just want to say a quick thank you for everyone’s kind words.  Again, what ever happens to Generator Photography in the future, whether this becomes a huge success or a crashing failure, to know that I have inspired people to look at the world differently, to up their game, to have more confidence in their own work, that alone would be its own reward.

Keep being awesome, friends.