2015 52 Week Project // Week 1 (With A Before & After!)

Camera settings: ISO 1000, f/1.8, 1/50th, Auto WB. 

Camera settings: ISO 1000, f/1.8, 1/50th, Auto WB. 

Hello everyone; WELCOME TO 2015! You know the drill, new year, new project, so here's the first of 52 images you'll be seeing from me this year. I decided 2015 was the perfect time to start a 52 week project, especially since I've been lacking on the shooting lately. This is exactly what I need as a photographer to give me a kick in the pants to keep furthering myself! So for the next year, I'll be focusing on creating fashion and lifestyle directed portraits, once every week. 

When deciding what kind of project I wanted to work on this year, I had a few options to consider. I've seen my friends and other photographers do 365's (where you shoot an image a day for a year) and other variations of challenges that involved the accountability of shooting a certain number of images or for a certain number of days/weeks/months. I needed something that would keep me actively shooting, but I didn't want to do a 365 in fear of 1) shooting mediocre images that weren't very interesting, and 2) getting burnt out and giving up on it. Though one shoot per week may seem like a lot, it's realistically what I was doing when I was still in school and gives me an opportunity to take a break between shoots. It also allows me to truly conceptualize and plan out each image in a much more detailed manner than a 365 day project would. 

Enough about my intentions! On to some more details about this week's image.

The inspiration for this week came from a local fashion photographer, who posted some beautiful headshots that were backlit by window light. Something about that soft, glowy light quality really caught my eye and was the kickstarter for this image! I proceeded to create a Pinterest board of ideas for this image and other future images, which allowed me to build a bank of different poses and angles. (A word of advice to other photographers: Pinterest is you best friend for finding and holding on to photo ideas, I highly encourage using it!) 

On a Sunday, I'd snagged an opportunity to use my roommate and friend, Whitney, as my model for this image. I got to turn her into my personal barbie doll for the day, and did her hair and makeup for this image. I then tacked up an old, unused, and translucent (translucent is KEY here; it allows all the window light to filter in through it!) bed sheet over my bedroom window which not only covered up the cross hatching in the window but also covered up the ugly apartment complex outside, and softened the window light: both a perfect backdrop and light source! 

(If you are not interested in the technical aspects, skip this paragraph.) I had to shoot this image at a relatively high ISO and the widest aperture my lens could go to. The good thing about modern camera bodies is that they handle noise and grain spectacularly, therefore keeping this image pretty clean and minimal in contamination! It allowed me to push the boundaries in post production with lighting a whole lot.

The processing of this image goes a little bit like this:

1) Shoot, weed out bad shots, pick a few images to edit.
2) Make basic adjustments in Lightroom to white balance, exposure, and shadows (which were definitely the biggest adjustment in this image; brightening them allowed the image to look more realisitic and the lighting better matched the background).
3) Pull the image into Photoshop to do retouching (frequency separation was the method used here) and area specific color correction (warming up the hair, desaturating some redness on the chest, etc.).
4) Bring the image back into Lightroom to make a final crop, fine tune exposure, and add some color grading and contrast.
5) Export image.

Even after all of this was done, I still went back and made tweaks and changes to the photo. I always send my images to a few of my photographer friends to get opinions and critiques, which helps me see the things I miss and get an unbiased perspective on the image. I ask these people to be super critical and take their best shot at me (no pun intended), with the intention of making the image as good as it can get. 

Once all of this is finished, the image is ready to post for you all to see! 

Hopefully that gives you a bit more insight on my personal process as a photographer! I know everyone does things differently, and sometimes I get questions about how I edit or what order I do things in. I can't wait to continues this project throughout the weeks, and share with you some new images. Thanks for coming along for the ride, see you all next week!

Jessica MummComment