We are all in the business of helping others solve problems.
The Madison Avenue media machine uses the tool of digital photography to bombard us with the glossy results of this advanced technology. It includes touched and re-touched breasts (yes, I just wrote that), eyes that look brighter and younger, and bodies that look more toned than they really are. And hair. Perfect hair.
We have all been there, standing in the checkout line at the grocery store. Our eyes seem to have a mind of their own. We don’t want to look, but we do. Our gaze wanders from headline to headline, heralding the latest celebrity gossip. And as we scan from cover shot to cover shot, we often ask ourselves the same question: “Are those real?”
We know the cover pictures and the ads are put in front of us to engage our senses, ultimately, in order to persuade us to buy stuff that we are made to believe we want and need. That’s how the ad world is ostensibly “helping” us.
But how can the same technology and techniques that are routinely used to make us feel more than a little inadequate be used to improve the lives of real people like you and me? That’s what the interview in today’s post (and two follow-ups) is about.
The digital age is here. And with it the opportunity to make the real look unreal, to make the good look better, and to make ourselves feel better, or worse, depending upon the view we have of ourselves.
I recently gained some valuable insight into this dynamic when I sat down with a very talented professional photography team: photographer, Corey Schatz, and his partner, Kat, the administrator and booking agent at their very clean, very busy, cutting edge, custom-built photography studio in Lakewood, Washington.
Specifically, I wanted to know why, in trying economic times, these small business owners are so busy; what obstacles they have overcome to achieve their success; and what, if any, obstacles they are good at helping others overcome.For starters, I was given a quick tour of the facility, which features a photo studio, the interior of which is two stories high and boasts enough space for vehicles, large group shots, but can easily be closed-in for single person photo sessions.Another separate room upstairs is home to a small video studio for taping video blogs, interviews, etc. These spaces are lined by a shadow-free, soft, bright white background.
Many of their projects also utilize a “chroma key” background (commonly referred to as “green screen”) that, in post-production, makes digital layering possible. It is the same technology weather anchors use on the evening news. The desired background is digitally inserted into anything green. This makes it possible for the subject to be digitally inserted anywhere in the world and/or in just about any situation imaginable.
After the shots are taken, some pretty high-end software comes into play to do all kinds of cool enhancements to those shots. Hence, the business name: DigiShotz, a direct reference to the state-of-the-art technology they bring to bear in every project.
So, in addition to sharing the secret to success in this industry, if anyone can speak to the ways in which the latest photographic technology reflects where we are as a society, it would be these two.
Over the years, Corey and Kat have interacted with a few thousand individuals who have utilized their photographic expertise. Most of DigiShotz’s work comes from professionals who want to harness the power of branding; people who wish to upgrade their “look” in photographic form. As such, this duo has a fairly up-to-date and unique perspective on the impact technology and the popular culture has on the rest of us; the consumers.
I posed my first question to Kat because she is generally the first contact person between the company and its client. She speaks with the clients on the phone and is the first person greeting them when they first arrive at the studios.
Jim: So, can your company be blamed as part of our society’s shallowness problem, or credited as part of the solution?
Kat: I don’t think we can blame technology for bad things, or give it credit for solving anything for that matter. [smiling at this point…] People can either use technology to do good things or bad things. Technology is just a tool. So, if anything, I think we are part of the solution. We are people who use technology to do good things.
Your True Self in Photographic Form
Corey began by discussing how today’s photography client expects the finished product to look: “Now that airbrushing can be done digitally, people are overly expectant of their idea of perfection. So strong is our desire to improve our looks – like the people we see on magazine covers are made to look better – there have been times when I have told clients what they usually already know: that that isn’t real.”
Jim: So, as a professional photographer, what problem would you say you are you solving for your clients? What obstacles do you help people overcome?
TO BE CONTINUED