You may remember an album I created specifically for the WPPI 16×20 Print, Album & Filmmaking Competition a few years ago which was made up of several polaroid collages.
If you want to see the entire original design, visit my Good Gallery client web site, found here.
I use the competition to reinvent myself. It puts a deadline on my creativity as I challenge myself to produce unique albums and enter fresh prints each year. The album was one of the most ambitious, challenging and difficult album designs of my career. The design created a sense of movement in each spread. It makes a 2D image almost appear 3D. It was like creating a puzzle from the inside out with no knowledge of the final image. When I began creating it, I was in a creative zone like never before. Each image had to be placed individually and carefully. It took me six long days with very few interruptions to produce this album. Since all the images had to be placed into position one by one, a reasonable knowledge of Photoshop would be required. I am by no means an expert in Photoshop so I called my good friend Andrew Funderburg from Fundy Software Inc He created the base templates for the book and after a short tutorial, his software made it easy to bring my vision to life.Thank you Fundy!
My inspiration for this design came from the master of polaroid collages, David Hockney. I usually prefer a simply designed album but as I mentioned, the WPPI competition forced me to think differently. I try to disguise my entires so the judges don’t assume it’s a “Jerry Ghionis” album. Well, I was rewarded! I won the album of the year award for the 8th time with that very album!
It’s a love or hate album. It’s deliberately chaotic and it was a huge risk but it was designed with purpose. It is truly one of my favourites and it is the most difficult design I have ever attempted. I have featured the design on my web site ever since and thought it was like the “Ferrari” in the showroom. Most will stop and stare at it but will most likely never buy it. Well, last year a couple booked me for that very album. I am currently putting the final touches on the album and presenting it to the couple tomorrow. I’m so excited that a couple has the guts to order this kind of album. The moral of the story? You sell what you show. Don’t believe that the industry forces you into a particular style of photography. Love what you do and put it out there. People will book you for your unique perspective. Unashamedly and unapologetically be yourself. Put your heart on your sleeve (and your web site) and you may not be the most popular photographer but people will book you for the work you love rather than the work you have to do.
Here is a sample from the new design:
Love what I do!!!
I am 42 years old today. I never celebrated my birthday growing up and it has been only in the last few years that I have paused to acknowledge that it’s a way for those you love to celebrate the love they have for you.
I woke up today feeling very emotional. 42 years ago my mother brought me into this world. If you know her, you would describe her as fun, crazy, dramatic, sentimental and fiercely loving.
My mum had a very tough life growing up and she also survived breast cancer with a double mastectomy in the last several years. On February 16 of this year she suffered a massive stroke. She wasn’t found in that “ideal” 4 hour window to get her to the hospital to hopefully prevent long term damage to her brain. Melissa and I were in the US at the time when we got the phone call from my brothers. We immediately raced to the airport but we were told that by the time we land in Melbourne, she may have already passed away. It was the worst 14 hours of my life. I didn’t know whether she would be dead or alive by the time we landed. The good news is that she was still alive, the bad news is that as with most stroke victims, people are left with half their body paralyzed and with incoherent speech. I can’t tell you the sadness I felt seeing someone so close to me looking so helpless. My body literally ran out of tears that day as I suspect will happen again by the time I finish writing this post.
All our family have taken care of her in our own different ways over the years. When we are in Melbourne, Melissa and I used to visit her at least once a week and spend half a day eating, drinking, playing cards and laughing until it hurt. My mother lived for love. She wanted nothing more than time with her family. When Melissa and I would leave for the US, we would send her on a trip to be with our extended family in Greece.
Melissa and I made the impossible decision to return to the US to attend WPPI this year. We were told that she needed as much rest as possible and there was nothing more we could personally do in the early stages after the stroke. It would also be a much needed distraction. With all our responsibilities at WPPI, although we were smiling on the outside, we were dying on the inside. We returned to Australia immediately afterwards and spent quality time with her. We all very hopeful that she would recover her mobility and speech but it wasn’t looking good. It has now almost been 4 months since her stroke and there still has been very little improvement.
You may have noticed that I have been very quiet on social media for the last few months until about 2 weeks ago or so. How could I share my life with the world when I was only feeling pain and helplessness? I didn’t want to admit to myself that the state she is in now maybe as good as it gets. I’ve surpassed the initial shock of her stroke. I’ve surpassed that feeling of helplessness (at least I thought I did), and it was time to accept that she may always have half her body paralyzed and not be able to communicate for the rest of her life. About 2 weeks ago when we returned from a European trip, I felt refreshed and ready to accept the things I cannot change and to do what I love to do and that is make a difference in other people’s lives. In times of hardship, I find comfort in focusing on others rather than reveling in my own misery.
I woke up this morning with tears in my eyes. My birthday made me think of my mum. I don’t think I’ll ever swallow the pill to accept my mother’s predicament. All I can do is find comfort that I have no regrets. I treated her like a queen and spent quality time with her. I gave her everything she needed. Our whole family has. Although our family is extremely close, this tragedy has made us even closer.
Why share this publicly? Call it therapy. Although there is always hope, I’d rather accept what’s happened to her and have a pleasant surprise than let hope kill a little piece of my heart each day. Saying it out loud may help me. It may not. Either way, today, on my birthday, I celebrate my mother.
I have been in this industry for over 22 years and although I love it, I can’t stand the negativity and the constant pursuit for people to be “famous,” the jealousy and the misguided stepping on others to do anything to be successful. What does success really mean to you? For those starting out your journey in this industry and to the seasoned veterans, your success is right in front of you. Your health, family, friends and the time you spend with them should be what your version of success is. We spend our time as photographers immortalizing moments for other families at the expense of our own. Use what you do for a living to influence people in a positive way whilst fiercely protecting what your version of success is. Popularity, money, awards, notoriety etc. come and go. What remains constant is family. Self love and self respect is the key to loving and respecting others.
I know many of you have actually lost your parents and/or gone through a lot worse than me. I appreciate that. I totally empathize with you. I hope we find comfort in each other.
How important is photography? This photo was one of the last photos I took of my mum before her stroke. After spending hours with her every week she would smile and wave goodbye and you would know that she would spend the entire week looking forward to the next time she would see you and cook for you.
If I have influenced you in a small or large way over the years and you want to give me a gift, organize a time to have your family photographed. Cherish your family as you are already successful.
Thank you for sharing my birthday.
Life moves forward.
With a heavy heart,
Yes, I’m trying to revitalize my blog. Check back in from time to time. I’d love to share some inspiration with you!
I’m so excited to share one of my favorite images of recent times. In an industry where most artistry is achieved after the photo has been taken there is nothing I love more than a photo that is simple but striking and achieved in-camera. I certainly use Photoshop to enhance my images but I prefer what I call “invisible” Photoshop. As in, what was done in post production is not evident. In this way the result is far more timeless and void of distracting elements that will almost certainly date. This photo, however, was created in-camera.
The bride, Sara, pictured below is a photographer and there is always that little added pressure that you are photographing someone with a more sophisticated palette.
I walked past the bride’s house and noticed a simple reflection of the white overcast sky against a silhouette of the groom who was walking next to me. I noticed that I could see through the silhouette of the groom and into the house. I thought, “How cool would it be to have the bride’s face montaged and merged into the groom’s face!” It would appear like an in-camera composite. It would be a perfect metaphor of when two people become one.
I asked the groom to stand in front of the window as I squatted down to see if I could get his clean silhouette against the overcast sky. The trees behind us were in my frame but I wanted to remove the distraction. Once you remove context from a shot, you enhance the mystery.
The groom needed to be higher off the ground so we found a little step ladder for the groom to stand on. All I needed to do was direct the bride who was inside the house and position her within the groom’s profile.
Here is a behind the scenes shot…
Without a beautiful expression from the bride, the result would simply be a clever shot but I needed something more. I asked the bride to “say I love you” to the groom with her eyes. Her expression was perfect. You clearly see the love and respect that Sara has for Steve. Here is the result…
70-200mm VRII Lens shot at 195mm
I love the way the shoulder of the groom could be mistaken for the bride’s shoulder. The groom’s hair could almost be mistaken for the bride’s hair. She is perfectly placed within the groom’s profile to complete the metaphor of when two souls become one.
I’m proud to say that this image came in first place in the Bride and Groom together category at the 2015 WPPI competition beating over 350 images. As you may or may not know, Melissa and I took over as competition directors of the WPPI Print, Album and Filmmaking competition in 2014. A significant change we made was to disallow composites in the wedding and portrait divisions. Composites are certainly allowed and celebrated but must be entered in other divisions. So when the judges scored this print, there was no doubt that this was achieved in-camera. It certainly helped the judges to understand the degree of difficulty and vision required to achieve this image. A special thanks goes to the one and only Rocco Ancora from Capture to Print who completed my vision and brought the print to life.
If you appreciate and have learned from the example above, there are plenty more where that came from. I have been training photographers online for over seven years on my educational web site, the Ice Society. A new chapter is released every month with countless hours of wedding, portrait, fashion and boudoir shoots, tutorials, critiques and much more. There are a minimum of three “before and after” examples as pictured above featured on the Ice Society every month. As of June 2015 there are are a total of 90 chapters! So there are over 270 examples waiting for you.
A one year subscription usually costs $299 but I am happy to give you 50% off to celebrate the rebirth of my blog!
Click here to join for 50% off. Promo Code: blog150
I am so excited to announce the release of a new invention of mine! Since the release of the Ice Light over a couple of years ago, my juices have been flowing to solve common problems when it comes to lighting for photographers.
I am proud to announce the world’s first 10 in 1 “shoot through” reflector, the Omega Reflector! The Omega Reflector combines the effect of a traditional reflector with the luxury of a beauty dish and a ring flash, offering the ultimate lighting control for gorgeous beauty lighting!
Using just one light source, you can produce a main light and a back/hair light and create gorgeous beauty lighting quickly and easily. Manufactured by Westcott, it’s unique design creates incredible catch lights that make eyes pop! Suction cups are included for quick mounting to glass and a durable travel case with a shoulder strap for effortless travel and portability.
We are doing a pre-sale for a reduced price of only $99 (Normal price $119.90) It will be delivered in 8+ weeks. We will not charge your credit card until we ship your oder. BTW You will not get the Omega quicker any else in the world as we have the first limited stock. As inventory becomes available, other dealers will have stock in the upcoming weeks/months.
For more information, examples and to purchase, visit http://www.theomegareflector.com
In the following video Jerry explains how to use the Omega and shows some examples of it in use including some RAW straight out of camera images to understand the power of the Omega.