The Proof is in The Details - For Beginning Photographers and Hobbyist

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

I've had a lot of emails from beginning photographers about my style of photography and the details that I capture. One thing about shooting weddings is documenting all the important details of the day. Think about it, the bride, groom, and their families have put so much time, energy, and money into this special occasion. You have to honor that by making sure to notice everything! And I do mean everything! Not just something new, something old, something borrowed, something blue.

Back to the Future: When it was time for me to graduate from high school, all of the students purchased these special little books that you were supposed to decorate with all of your high school memorabilia and chronicle your life up to that point. I had a few problems.

1. I had no money to buy the book

2. I had way too much stuff

3. I didn't like cutting paper and gluing images

4. If you didn't have a book you couldn't get your friends' signatures - the uncool kid :-(

5. Most of the guys at school could care less to carry around a memory book

(note: don't worry, I'm taking this story somewhere - keep reading)

So I devised a plan. I went to the local Walmart and bought a huge album for like 10 bucks. Remember the albums with the acid pages. Who ever thought it was a good idea to use the type of sticky pages that would eventually eat through your images in a few years? Come on, you know you still have some of your pictures in those old albums and you can't peel the pictures off now without tearing, right?

Anyways, I created my own book. I had hundreds of pictures, receipts, pendants, award certificates, report cards (dating back to Elementary School), fabric (from proms), newspaper clippings, get deal. I was a pretty huge pack rat. No need for a year book, I could make my own. Or even lend them material.

What I realized when I started doing photography professionally is that I was never a pack rat. I appreciated history and documenting my past. I was creative in ways to display my view of life and what I wanted (or wanted to forget) for the future. I loved details and I noticed things that others overlooked.

The same is still true.

As a professional photographer, now I get paid to document the lives of others. How cool is that! Not only am I keeping up with my own history, now I get a chance to play a part in capturing the history and future of others. Someone 100 years from now (?? guess I may be somewhere else by then) will look at one of my images or flip through one of my books and appreciate (hopefully) what was happening during that time. This may all sound pretty basic to you but it totally excites me. Yet another reason why "...the key is to love what you see." I have no clue who or what I will influence in the future. As long as I show love for what I am doing, I am completely satisfied with where I am going. Was that a quote?

Back to the post and ending my mid-day rambling.

So since I shoot so many weddings and you get to see those details on the site all of the time, let's look at something different. Here is a sneak peek into a portion of what I will be teaching in the workshop.

Take this room:

Nothing too special. It's just a hallway and a room, right? But there are some really important details. And actually some pretty extraordinary photographs that could take place if we added a person there or simply take a closer look.

When thinking of details, you need to figure out a way to capture them and display them in a way that shows appreciation (and love) for the thought of the person and existence of the item.

Here's one view:

And another:

And another:

And yet another: (sorry 'bout those shadows!)

The options are limitless. I could stay in one 10x10 room for a month shooting different details. They are everywhere. Honor your clients and/or your subject material by capturing the details in a different way. Don't just go out and copy what you've seen before. That's what I strive to do and what I always hope my clients appreciate - me paying attention and capturing something different. More on this at the workshop.

The Proof is in The Details because it shows that you have love for what you do and the people that you are privileged to work with.

By the way, I did become the cool kid with my custom high school memory book. It did weigh about 10 pounds but I had more pages than anyone else to sign (when others ran out) and I had more images to back up my stories (that people thought were a figment of my imagination). I still have the book and about 5 - 6 others from college. The next book will document my time in Corporate America.

Back to the Present: So interesting how your past comes back to help you in the future.



Teka-Ann Haynes said...

All I have to say is "u r sic." AND THATS A GREAT THING! Those photos of details had me laughing; u r the truth Ross. Im still laughing. I love your work.

Anonymous said...

You are eons ahead of others when it comes to photojournalism. Everything that you just typed made so much sense, yet, I'd never given it that much thought nor appreciation. This further proves that once God is the giver of gifts and the anointing is on you for what you do. You really are limitless Ross. I've been following you since the infamous Keisha and Robert proposal and you floor me with your wisdom and passion.

Anonymous said...

I'm a huge fan of your work. I absolutely love photography! You are right on when you talk about having the eye for details. I always try to think out of the box and take the pictures most people wouldn't think to take and try taking them at different angles as well. I was married a long time ago (hoping to remarry soon *smile*) and for our wedding as a bride I missed a whole fact the whole day was a blur. All I remember is my best friend forgetting the grooms ring. It was very funn. Anyway, I was looking for my photographer to bring the wedding back to life for me through pictures. Unfortunately he didn't have an eye for detail. He only captured headshots of people vs the decorations, the food, the room, the activities. He was definitely not a photojournalist. I strive to learn the craft that you have perfected. Keep doing and sharing. Love your blog.

Tunji Sarumi said...

This is great. I'm going to lock myself in a room and see how many details I can get out of it.
I got to tell you men!! You have the EYE. Please keep up this work because you inspire me.


Anonymous said...


Deewonda said...

Mr. Knight, I have to thank you for your attention to details expressed in your blog. I have become a student of your work over the past couple of months -- studying the angles of your images, the details, the composition, the lighting, the shadows. I am in NO WAY up to your caliber but I took what I could practice from your photographs and applied them to the recent wedding of a co-worker.

Now, I purposely did not charge her much because I wanted to add some wedding images to my online portfolio. (Note to self: stop selling myself short!) Lemme tell you, it was a total of 6-hours of hard, body aching work at 3 locations in 2 days -- but I got a 675 images of which 317 were good enough to impress the bride (the groom was a rather 'low-key' brother who let her handle the details). Two other co-workers, who were at the reception and who saw my work, have asked me to take family portraits! OMG!

I looked for the usual and unusual (stalking geese!), big and small details, took my time, thought things through and got some really amazing photographs that I wouldn't have dreamed of taking if it were not for your work and your blog entries.

I put together a small slideshow (a fraction of the 317) that I would LOVE to have you critique... but I'll wait until I meet you at your April workshop!

You are so RIGHT ... "...the key IS to love what you see."


---- Deitra

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this lesson, Ross. I'm going to practice with my camera and look for those details I'd ordinarily miss in a room.

I feel challenged by the idea of capturing those things that might often be overlooked.

Anonymous said...

wooo hoooo! Love how you promote my passion...scrapbooking in this confirmed my need to step up my teaching efforts for high schoolers! I've already passed on my eye for detail to my five children, nothings thrills me more than when my 4 year old screams mommy, take a picture!

lisa over at (I was your star struck fan who met you at NMSDC in October)

God's Flame said...

Wow. That was amazing. I am not a photographer or even aspiring to be, but I do love interesting things. And your stuff blows me away. I have a sister however who's very much into photography. And I will be sharing your blogs with her!

guerreiranigeriana said...

Jesus!! are amazing!!...i loved it, loved it, loved it...thank you...