Here I shot a wonderful environmental portrait of a shop owner. Her colorful clothing, wonderful expression and contagious smile in front of the background of her little shop make this a nice image. It was shot on a Nikon D800, with a 24-70mm lens. I did not add any vignette but also did not correct for what the lens gave me.
I did a great deal of detailed work on the contrast to make sure the image popped properly. This accentuated the vignette a bit. I shot it at ISO800 which is high for the D800 yet I did not reduce the grain at all. I kept the image with all of its imperfections, because in an image, as in a person, the character is hidden in the imperfections.
How many times do you go to a party and find yourself speaking to the cookie cutter suburban homeowner? How many times have you longed for the imperfect person who took far too many wrong turns? The person who jumped off the fashion train and is marching to the beat of their own drums?
You should look at your images the same way. Why have the perfect lens? Why not shoot with a lens that is imperfect and full of character? Why not leave your image with those small distractions we are taught to cut out? In this example I have a white string tied to the shelf on the right of the image. It is bright, distracts and does not contribute to the image. Cookie cutter photo editing would tell you to remove it, or at the very least darken it a bit.
But in that little piece of string, you have a story. A story of a little shop that is held together by hundreds of little strings just like that. The woman is smiling through cataract filled eyes, missing teeth and a wrinkled face yet she tells a wonderful story too. That story needs to be told as it is. To whitewash, dodge, burn and surgically alter the storyline is to tell a different story. One that does not exist, never did exist and never will exist. That is fantasy which has little place in a environmental portrait.
Patrick...confirmed film & digital photography addict.