Portrait of Jared Platt by Calros Martín

Story Telling: an Interview with Jared by Blurb Books

This interview with me from Blurb Books just ran via PDN. I thought you might be interested in the content of the interview as well as the great discount for blurb books. Enjoy the interview…

Jared PlattBlurb
Photographer
Spotlight:

Jared Platt

Jared Platt is a commercial photographer, portraitist, and educator based in Arizona who regularly runs workshops and webinars for Profoto and CreativeLive. He’s also an Adobe® Lightroom® devotee and a strong believer in the power of photography to tell stories. When he recently appeared on a CreativeLive segment, he impressed us with his thoughts on music, rhythm, and the photographic story arc.

Why is storytelling so important to you as a photographer?
Photography is storytelling. Some people tell a story in one image, which is always awe-inspiring, and some people tell stories over a series of photographs. But, all photographs have the aim of telling a story. Whenever I am taking a photograph, whether it is at a wedding, on the street, on a commercial shoot, or of a child, I am always looking for the story I want to tell in that one image—or series of images. I have an intense need to tell these stories that I see to everyone who will see my images, because I believe those stories will touch them, matter to them, and make some kind of an impression on them.

How does Lightroom help you with that aspect of your work?
Lightroom is essential to the process of selecting and editing the extreme volume of work I have in front of me constantly. A photo historian, the late Bill Jay, used to remind me that a project (no matter how perfect it was) was of no value until it was completed and available for people to experience. Lightroom helps me get superior work completed efficiently, so I can share it with the world and get busy telling the next story. Companies like Blurb, who connect with Lightroom, have made the process of sharing stories with the world even easier. Producing a masterful photo book is within any photographer’s reach.

How do you use books in your professional life?
As a photographer in the digital age, I transmit images via Facebook, blogs, websites, iPads, and FTP servers. But there is something extremely special about quality paper, printing, and binding. My clients receive physical proof books made by Blurb, which I create directly in Lightroom. I never tire of hearing the exclamations from my clients about how beautiful their books are and how much they love them. Books are also essential in selling my services to future clients. Photo books and magazines are so comfortable and accessible to the client who is relaxing in the studio showroom, and as the client is looking through the book, the book is selling them on my vision and educating them on my style.


Learn More
Whatever your passion—whether you chose it, or it chose you—turn it into a book with Blurb.

Take 20% off any print book order. Use the code PDN11 at checkout.*


And naturally this is related to storytelling…
Making a book takes the opportunity for storytelling to a whole new level. With multiple images spread over days, months, or years, it can come together to make extremely poignant statements. Add titles and graphics and text to the mix and you have limitless opportunities to connect with people and help them see what you see. I think when people say, “This is beautiful,” they are really saying, “I see what you see, and what you see is beautiful.”

How does your personal work differ from your client work?
There is no difference between my personal work and the work I do for my clients. I let one inform and alter the other, so, as my personal work shifts and expands, so does my commercial work. I am simply a visual storyteller. I tell stories about my clients’ lives, products, and events, and I tell stories about my life. I hope they are all interesting to the viewer. If they aren’t, I need to improve.

If money and time were no object, what project would you most want to take on?
I find creative people fascinating. Money and time are always an object and yet I am still on a quest to photograph and interview creative people of all types, from all genres of creativity, to experience their energy, understand their methods, and tell their story. So if money were no object, I would continue full steam ahead telling the story of the creative mind. In a creative way, of course…

At Blurb, we celebrate creativity in all of its myriad expressions. Photographers like Jared embody the creative freedom that our self-publishing platform enables.


Child Life | Jared Platt

Learn more about Jared Platt

> Jared’s website
> Jared’s Child Life book

Photography by Jared Platt


Tell your story with photography in a beautiful book and save

Take 20% off any print book order. Use the promo code PDN11 at checkout.*

Learn More

*Offer valid through December 31, 2014 (11:59 p.m. local time). Valid for printed books only. A 20% discount is applied to your print book product total with no minimum purchase required. Maximum discount is USD $100, AUD $100, CAD $100, EUR €100, or GBP £100 off product total. This offer is good for one-time use, and cannot be combined with volume discounts, other promotional codes, gift cards, or used for adjustments on previous orders.

 

Documentary photographs of Mindy Gledhill in the recording studio in Nashville (7)

Creativity in Action: The Business of Creativity

Mindy Gledhill writing at the piano during her studio sessions in Nashville TN

When the man or woman on the street thinks about the process of making music, they think about a musician and a piano, or a guitar.  Sitting down and playing for hours, perhaps making notes on some blank sheet music, writing some lyrics under a sycamore tree on a funky hand made notebook, and maybe the younger among us add in a snapshot of the musician playing music on their iPad into Garage Band.

But the creative process is goes beyond the romantic and requires organizational skills and business acumen.

Documentary photographs of Mindy Gledhill in the recording studio in Nashville (2)

When I walked into Cason Cooley’s recording studio in Nashville, TN, to photograph Mindy Gledhill, the first thing I noticed was the wall sized blackboard with a production grid on it.  You can see the songs that are being recorded and the series of steps that each song must go through during the production of Mindy’s new album.  There are a lot of boxes to check.  During short recording breaks, Mindy wasn’t relaxing in a chair, shooting the breeze with the studio musicians, she was fielding calls that were clearly about business.

blackboard checklist for album

So, while it is true, that musicians and artists spend a lot of focused time writing lyrics in notebooks and making sketches on napkins, the majority of any successful artist’s time is spent in managing production and business and checking off boxes on an excel spreadsheet or its funky blackboard equivalent.


Mindy Gledhill making notes on her lyrics for her new album

If you want to be part of the creative life, and “live the dream,” you had better be aware that the “dream” includes spreadsheets and task lists and business goals and production schedules.  That’s just part of the creative life.  Anyone who tells you something different is selling something.

Thanks to Mindy Gledhill for allowing me to invade her creative space as she worked.  You can be a part of her creative venture as well by pledging to her album production at Pledge Music.  The beauty of it is that you will also get some very cool things in return.  One of my favorites is a signed lyric sheet.  I think that’s about as cool a memento as you can get.  Of course, I am biased, I was always the lyricist in the band.

If you haven’t heard Mindy’s music, here is a taste of it.  You can get more at MindyGledhill.com.

Photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography

Location: Cason Cooley Studio in Nashville, TN

Slideshow music by Mindy Gledhill, courtesy of Triple Scoop Music

Here We Go! The Lightroom Workflow Workshop Tour Kicks Off – July 17, 2010

It is that time of year.  I am heading out to cities across the United States to teach my Lightroom Workflow Workshop.  In this workshop I teach professionals and enthusiasts how to take control of their post-production workflow.  I have just released the trailer below.  Take a look at it.  And I will look forward to seeing you out on the road somewhere in my travels.

To book a seat at the workshop, go to www.jaredplattworkshops.com.

The Lightroom Workflow Workshop Tour 2010 from Jared Platt on Vimeo.

Conquer your workflow demons with Jared Platt as your instructor. The Lightroom Workflow Workshop Tour begins on Saturday July 17, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. We will then be off to Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Boston, New York, Syracuse, Los Angeles, Vegas, Cincinnati, Louisville, Miami, Jacksonville, Orange County, San Diego, Raleigh, Nashville, New Orleans, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle and more.

Come learn how to cut your workflow time in half or more and win some great prizes and get free product and services from our sponsors. And learn Adobe Lightroom 3.0 in the process.

The Lightroom Workflow Workshop will pay for itself on day one!

www.jaredplattworkshops.com

Guess that ISO – a lesson in film and digital grain structure

(First Published on the Pictage Blog, Thursday, Feb 11, 2010.)

So I have a little game I first played with Elizabeth Pratt from Canon. The game is called “Guess that ISO”. We are going to play it here today.  for those of you who are not professional photographers, ISO is the sensitivity rating of the film or chip in the camera.  Lower ISOs are best in bright lighting conditions and higher ISOs allow for proper exposure in low light situations.

Here is the image we are going to work with. It was shot with a Canon 1D Mark IV. This is the final image with various adjustments and increased noise reduction etc. I just wanted you to get a feel for the image we are working with.

 Child-Portrait-Feet-1

The Fine Print:

The zoomed in detail images below have only one adjustment applied. I have to be upfront here, I am not going to show you the original image with no noise reduction because that is not practical, no image is used without a default noise reduction. So, what I am showing you below is the image with absolute “normal” noise reduction in Adobe Lightroom. I have the NR set at 25, witch is the default for Lightroom for basically every camera on the market.

With the fine print out of the way, let’s play.

GUESS THAT ISO…

Look at the grain structure and noise levels and tell me what ISO did I use?

 low-noise-markiv

Now for a little lesson on color noise and grain.

In the beginning, was film. Film is made up of millions and millions of floating silver halides (little flex of “want-to-be silvers). These silver halides float in a gelatin emulsion (like jello but harder – made mostly of cow hooves etc…). So, no film image is ever a continuous tone. Even the best film image has a grain structure to it. The image is made up of tiny little randomized dots that, when seen from a distance create the illusion of an image. George Seurat made paintings in this manner, which is known as pointillism. His paintings were constructed from random specks of paint placed in proximity to each other. Colors were mixed, not by blending pigment, rather, several dots of yellow and blue were mixed by the eye to create the illusion of green. As the dots got closer together, the tones became more dense and vice versa as they grew further apart. The further back you stand from a Seurat painting the better and more continuous the tones and colors in the painting appear. If you have ever seen a color newspaper or magazine up close, you have seen a very large and pattern based version of pointillism. Photographic grain (color and black and white) exhibits with the same principles.

Film’s inherent grain structure was a necessary part of the photographic image making from the the 19th through the 20th centuries. We accepted it and grew to love it, because it was the only option available. Slower films, which required brighter light, had less grain and more continuous tones; faster films, which could be shot in lower light situations had more grain and created a more pointillistic effect. We came to see grain as part of the art form. Larger, more prominent grain structures felt gritty and press like. They insinuated “documentary” and “reality”, while tighter, smother grain structures presented a cleaner, cleaner view of the world, so we saw them as more controlled. Landscape photographers and commercial photographers shot this way, so naturally the images were typically more perfect and therefore a little less believable than the gritty “documentary” style images with all that grain.

Originally, photographic emulsions were mixed in only one variety: the grainy, gritty kind. But, with the advancement of the science and the introduction of finer grain structures and faster emulsions, photographers began choosing film speeds, not just to deal with different lighting conditions, but also to create a different mood or feeling in their images. Selecting a 1600 ISO press film for a commercial fashion shoot was a choice specifically made by the photographer to suggest reality, documentary or art! Films were chosen based on their color bias and for their grain structures. Some photographers loved large grain, others loved fine grain. But grain was always a part of the photographic life and we all accepted its existence and learned to manipulate it to our advantage.

With the advent of digital photography as a viable photographic medium, photographers no longer had to accept grain. Unlike film, digital captures are made up of a grid of pixels, and those pixels are so close together that from one point of color or tone to the next there are no gaps. This means it is a truly continuous tone. Digital presented us with a grain-less option that was so clean and so flawless that the visual language began to change. Photographers expected more out or their image making tools and started seeing grain as a flaw in the image as opposed to a beautiful part of it and, to some degree, some clients have rejected that gain as well. Seurat would be agog at our negative reaction to grain in a continuous tone digital age. He went through great pains to create paintings completely out of this grain-like effect and here we come in 1010 thinking that grain is an eye sore? Strange indeed.
While it is great to know that I have the option for grain-less images, the fact still exists, that grain has a purpose in image making and when used well, enhances the photograph. But, one thing digital has not done well, in the past, is grain.

Our love affair with the cleanliness of the digital capture, only lasted in the lower ISOs of the camera. Digital cameras had a problem of color and luminance noise in the higher ISOs. I remember shooting with a Nikon D1x and then a Canon 10D. Both cameras were absolutely worthless at 800 ISO. Even if you could stand the blocky and offensive grain structure, the color noise was so atrocious, you could only keep the file if you were willing to turn it to black and white. Even just 3 years ago, when comparing film to digital, one would have to admit that while the digital capture did a better job at creating a continuous tone in the lower ISOs, films were far superior to digital in the higher ISOs with its beautiful grain structures. If a digital photographer wanted beautiful grain, he would have to shoot his image in a lower ISO and then digitally manipulate the image and render the gain into the image. This is no longer the case…

Recently, camera technology and image software technology together have reduced the color noise and randomized the grain structure in the higher ISOs to the point that a side by side film and digital grain comparison at 800, 1600, 3200 ISO will leave film in the dust for continuous tone and fine grain structure. Our little guess the ISO game proves this point. In a dimly lit room, the Canon 1D Mark IV can record details, brighter than the eye can see them, at a 100th of a second and yet the grain structure is tight and beautiful. It seems that with each new generation of cameras, film looses another unique feature. Beautiful grain in the higher ISOs is the just the latest.

I have never bought into the notion that grain is a negative thing. When I shot film, I loved the grain of 400 TMAX. I loved shooting with Fuji 1600 or Ilford 3200. Now, digital has matched the beauty of those grain structures without any heroic manipulations in photoshop. Say it with me again and again, “grain is beautiful!” And now, in digital we have every option before us: heavy grain, light grain or absolutely no grain. And we don’t even have to change film!

Thanks Canon!

And the ISO is…

So now, are you ready to know the ISO? 12,800 ISO. I am still astounded. The Mark IV, together with Adobe Lightroom’s standard noise reduction creates a beautiful, tight grain structure with no offending color noise whatsoever. You can not beat that. It this point, every ISO from 50-12,800 is usable in digital without a second thought.

 low-noise-12800iso-markiv

PS. Don’t get on me about Nikon v Canon, or Film v Digital. I’m not judging you if you shoot Nikon or Film. I used to shoot Nikon film cameras. To date, my favorite body I have ever shot with is a the Nikon F5. Film still has its place and still beats the pants off digital when there is no electrical outlets to charge your camera or when it comes to latitude of capture. I’m just talking about where we’ve been and how far we’ve come with respect to grain in photography. Think about it. We’ve come a long way.

Jared Platt

Platt Photography

This article was first published on the Pictage Blog on .

Merry Christmas Charlie Brown – Canon Mark IV

I looked around my home tonight and still can’t bring myself to take down the Christmas decor.  It will stay up for at least another week.  So I thought I would record my favorite decorations and Christmas elements before we pack them up for the year.  This Charlie Brown Christmas Tree is a recent addition, but one of my very favorites.  I shot it tonight in available light, with just the general can lights on.  As you can see in the info detail later in this post, it is shot a very comfortable 1/250 of a second because I have my 50mm 1.2 and an ISO of 3200.  On my 5D mark II, this ISO is a bit noisy, but just fine in Black and White and on my Mark III was completely impossible.  But the Mark IV does a create job with the grain structure and the color noise is non-existent.  Now, keep in mind, I am using this practically, I am not trying to be a scientist here, but rather a practical user.  I am shooting RAW and using Lightroom to produce the final jpg you are seeing.  I have added a vignette and adjusted the color to suite my taste and I have used the noise reduction in Lightroom, but nothing heroic has been done to the image.  Basic Lightroom noise reduction has produced a file that I would be completely happy showing my clients.  The grain looks good and the color noise is great for such a high ISO.  Tomorrow, I will pump up the ISO even more and see how it fairs at 6400 and 12800 ISO.
 canon-mark-IV-photo-1

In the detail crop you can see all of the basic setting for this Mark IV exposure and see the grain structure and look into the monochromatic background, that is where you should see the color noise, but without heroic noise reduction plug-ins (just normal Adobe Lightroom – Camera RAW color noise reduction) the file is fantastic for such a high ISO.  And I am so thrilled with Canon’s grain structure, both here on the Mark IV and on the 5D mark II.  Both feel so much like film, that I almost prefer shooting at a higher ISO to give my images a bit more depth and texture to them.  We’ve become so sterilized with digital that we almost can’t imagine a world without smooth continuous tones.  That’s why film shooters always “feel” so different.  They have grain, even in the lower ISOs.

Grain is beautiful!  Say it again and again!  Never grow tired of that mantra.

 canon-mark-IV-detail-1

My Interview on the Pat McMohan Show

I was interviewed recently on the Pat McMohan Show on AZ TV Channel 13. It was a fun interview. Pat is a humorous man. We talked about simple ways to make your photos better. Many times it is the simplest things that make a photograph great, and it is usually not the quality of the camera…



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