It took much more than looking at someone doing it.
It took me (only) a couple of years of unsatisfied feelings and confusion.
Feeling like you are missing the point, or more precisely, that you are doing some of the right things, but not enough of them to be completely happy.
I’m taking about photography. I am not saying I’m completely satisfied with my work, but I’m ok enough to know which way I have to keep trying. I know which direction I have to work the most. To get better I mean.
I thought this epiphany would have been smoother, at least I was really sure I had some ideas. I had NO idea. Not too long ago I decided to start over, and it was a good decision. It will probably have to happen again and again in the years to come.
The reason why it came to me is because I kept processing, until I realized part of the answer is in the way I interpret other photographer’s work.
When people ask me what was like to be working next to David, I always think about being precise. Never let anything to the case, be prepared. I’ve never seen such an efficient crew around a photographer. That same attention to detail can be (should be!) translated on smaller productions as well. David LaChapelle does one thing particularly better than many others in my opinion, he thinks better. It may take three days to build a set that corresponds to his vision, but that is exactly why the final images look great.
You know when people tell you “get the picture right already in the camera” ? I’m sure you’ve heard it before, at least once. Did you think about it? I mean, did you really think about it? It doesn’t really matter whether your shoot produced or very low budget, either way it will make the difference. Maybe not everyone will be able to see it. But who matters will, trust me. And most importantly you will know, you’ve done that shit right.
I haven’t gotten to that point, it’s a goal. I am not even 100% sure it needs to always be that way (there must be exceptions), but you need something to look up to. For me that “something” is the research, preparation, focus and precision the people I worked with put in their art.
I want to quietly thank everyone who helped me understand this. If we’ve worked together you, are definitely on that list. Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to learn.
I thought it would have been nice to share some backstage about this. These are some of David portraits of Uma Thurman and Katy Perry on which we broke our backs on, building up, moving, lighting, refining, laughing, sweating, getting yelled at, to get it just right. Every little detail in these images is real and well thought, in their own way these images are honest.
Build the set, tear it down, clean up. And do it again. Hopefully for the rest of your life.