The Biggest Lesson I’ve Learned in Photography with Coloratti Ashley Karyl
by Dave Mobbs – August 20th, 2018
The number one thing I have learned in my photography career is really simple: always practice good photo technique. If you avoid errors when shooting, you won’t have to fix them later.
Get the basics right
This comes down to the basics. When I first started shooting I made a lot of mistakes through lack of experience; I had been to art college where I had the opportunity to experiment, but a couple of weeks of interning at a studio showed that I was very unprepared for the ‘real world’.
While photography is an art, if you are pursuing it as a career then it is also a business. You are employed to deliver a job according to the brief, on time and within budget. The moment you start cutting corners things tend to go wrong. Therefore, it’s important not to lose sight of good basic technique, such as accurate exposure, good lighting and colour control.
Sometimes you’ll be under pressure from external factors, like a challenging location, late courier or even horrible loud music nearby. If you concentrate on the basics, none of those distractions need ruin your shoot. It’s a bit like golfers that practice simple shots day after day to make sure they don’t mess up on the final hole at a tournament.
Above all else, clients want to know you can deliver the results as expected with 100% reliability. If they cannot depend on you, they’ll go elsewhere.
It was only over time that I nailed down a very methodical process so that good practice became second nature. As an example, I once photographed a beauty cosmetics campaign in South Africa for an Italian client. The shoot lasted a week with numerous locations and different lighting. However, I came back to Milan with a pile of images that were near enough all perfect, requiring little or no adjustment in post-production before going to print. That was because I had followed the basics before each shot. Nobody is perfect, but successful photographers will develop a workflow that they refine over the years to ensure they make very few mistakes and that any problems are minimal at worst.
There is a tendency nowadays with digital to think you can fix everything in post-production. Unfortunately, this is a big mistake based on laziness and it is actually counterproductive. It will save a lot of time, money and stress if you shoot with a more methodical approach; once you are confident in the basics, you can experiment more creatively and still deliver technically solid results.
Colour accuracy is a must
A fully colour managed workflow is part of that process, but one that you should include from the outset as part of your workflow before you even press the shutter button.
A big part of beauty photography involves accurate colour, and I started at a time when photographers had little real control compared to now. Colour management was still limited in scope, but I became one of the early adopters because accurate colour was essential on big budget productions for advertising campaigns.
The particular importance of colour management is that it saves you a huge amount of time and money, because everything works first time, every time. It is the biggest investment you can make in your photography. In addition, you can maintain this consistency when you change camera, computer display, printers or even move to the other side of the world. Colour management allows you to pass images seamlessly from one stage to another without ever needing to colour correct.
At the point your images come on to the computer, they should essentially be ready to send anywhere with no nasty surprises. You can apply a camera profile with X-Rite ColorChecker charts for better colours, and you should always edit on a properly calibrated display using an X-Rite calibrator.
- Good lighting that takes account of contrast ratios between shadows and highlights.
- Avoiding lens flare that will ruin your images. You should light the subject and not the lens, so it’s good practice to use a lens hood and mask off any areas of the scene that could bounce light onto the lens surface.
- Accurate exposure is linked to the lighting and has a big impact on the quality of your images, including the dynamic range.
- Correctly focused images without camera shake. Somebody once told me to work FAST (Focus, Aperture, Shutterspeed, Think)
- Accurate white balance when you shoot, rather than correcting randomly in post production (X-Rite ColorChecker)
- Shoot Raw for best quality with the above points in mind
About Ashley Karyl
Ashley is a Commercial, Fashion, Nature, and Celebrity Photographer, based in the United Kingdom. After leaving Art College, he spent some time in London before moving to Milan where he began working as a photographer, moving from fashion to beauty and later including both still life and other subjects before moving back to the UK in 2002.
Over the years his work has been used by clients such as Cerruti 1881, Collistar, J Walter Thompson, Rimmel, Kérastase, Marie Claire, Young & Rubicam, Ogilvy One etc.
In 2015 Ashley published a book called Colour Management Pro that covers every aspect of colour management. From choosing your lenses right through to dealing with prepress printers and working with video.
More about Ashley on his website.