Building a Photograph vs Taking a Picture

January 9, 2012 § 2 Comments

"Kate, The Empty Pool and Beer"

After spending the last few weeks blogging about studio still life images and how I light them, I decided to blog about building a composite image from images I already have in my files.  You’ll recognize some of the component parts of the final image since they appeared in previous blogs.  Before I get into what I did to get to the final images, I want to mention that I was a guest last August on  This is a fantastic site for discussing all things photographic with co-hosts Michael Stern and Lee Love.  The guests on the show are truly amazing, and I feel very honored to have been one of the guests on the show.  Like the title of the show implies, they discuss how to “build” a photograph rather than just take a picture.  I don’t want anyone to think that I’m putting down “taking” pictures…most of my website is just that, but with some post processing done to produce the final image.  O.K. let’s get on with the two images that I have here.  The first one of Kate at the empty pool with a beer, started off with a shot of the empty pool at the local rec center after the summer season was over.  I was wandering around with my camera, and noticed the empty pool with the ladder off to the side.  Something about the composition struck me, and I knew that I’d do something with that image someday.  I added the sky to get rid of the boring background, and then did some editing in Photoshop using my PhotoTools and LucisArt plug-ins.  I actually liked the shot at that point, but decided that I would hunt around my files to see if I could come up with another element.  I remembered the shot of Kate in a previous blog I did where I placed her in a nature setting sitting on a rock.  I went back to my files and chose another shot of Kate that I shot on seamless in my studio, but this one was from the back.  I stripped her out of the original background and placed her “in the pool”.  After looking at the shot, I thought the location could very well be a rooftop.  Next I asked myself, “what the heck is she doing there, what kind of story do I want to tell”?  Is she just chilling…naked on the roof of her apartment building?  Is she reading, contemplating her existence, looking at the stars?  I wanted to put something else in the shot, but couldn’t come up with anything…until I remembered my last blog with the beer in the fridge.  I stripped out the beer and added a slight glow.  Now I have three shots I like, the empty pool with the new sky, the pool with Kate, and the pool(or rooftop) with Kate drinking a beer.  That’s the fun of “building” a photograph!  It’s all up to you.

"Empty Pool Right Out of the Camera"

"Empty Pool with Sky Background Added"

"Empty Pool, New Sky and Kate"

"Add a Little Beer"

My next composite image is pretty simple.  I took one of my images from my “Shooting Booze” blog and stripped out the booze and my hand, and placed it on a couple of different textured backgrounds.


"Textured Background One"

"Textured Background Two"

Hope you all enjoyed this, and don’t forget to check out the Build A Better Photograph site.





§ 2 Responses to Building a Photograph vs Taking a Picture

  • Lee Love says:

    Jon nice work as usual. Your studio lighting is fantastic and inspiring.

    I know I speak for Michael when I say we really enjoyed having you on the show and look forward to having on again.

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge and expertise.


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