Challenges of Getting the Shot

It's been said that, "Good design is obvious. Great design is transparent." (Joe Sparano)

Which means that a good designer's work will seem effortless. But in reality, the creative process is anything but effortless. Especially as a solo freelancer. 


Most of the time, I work completely alone.

While at one time in my life I would have thought this would be fabulous, I now realize how handy it is to have other people around to bounce around ideas with or help out with little tasks - such as taking portraits. I do a lot of photography, but am often limited by what I can do based on the fact that I am working completely alone. I do my best to not let it hinder things, but if anything, tasks require more time to complete to get just perfect. 

Take this image, for example: 

This image took me over half an hour to get right.

Because I wanted a shallow depth of field so that the viewer would first focus on the message and then my blurred out face, getting the composition and focus correct was a huge challenge. I had to set a tall trashcan with a long tube in the area where my hand would be stretch out to in order to focus on the area where my hand would be. Then I would set the self timer, run and squat in front of my background (which was a piece of black foam core crudely balanced on a couple of sawhorses in front of my basement window), and then remove the trashcan. As the camera would take 6-9 shots, I would slightly move the paper around in hopes of getting it positioned just right in the frame. Then, I would analyze the photo, and do it again. 


I took 127 images before getting my keeper.

Sometimes the focus would be good, but my face would have a weird expression. Sometimes my face and focus would be great, but the card was covering me up a little too much. And while it can be frustrating and tedious to run back and forth and back and forth, I'm always much more content with my final product when I persevere and get it right. I ended up liking this image a lot.  

Take a look through the contact sheet that led to my one, single, final image. I even changed shirts in the beginning after seeing how wrinkly it was. You can also see that it took some time to get my positioning right with the depth of field. 

What are some tricks you all use when taking self-portraits? Leave a comment below! 

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