Shooting for the Skies

Time flies. It was just two or three years ago that I suggested to my wife that she take up photography as an outlet for her creative side. I had been editing images for years in Photoshop, but considered this a mere sideline. Laura had been taking really nice family shots for ages with her beloved Leica, but it had never occurred to her to take her skills to a higher level. We looked at each other and suddenly realized that this was something we might work at together. The question was whether we had the fundamental skills to begin with; we had to be realistic. We looked at each other’s work as objectively as possible and came to the conclusion that it might just work.

We devoted almost every spare hour to learning and above all practicing. Laura studied the fundamentals of lighting and - geek as she is - mastered the use of strobes in record time. I took her work and upped my technical skills in such recondite areas as dodging and burning and frequency separation. She got to grips with light meters; I mastered the use of a Wacom tablet, Most of all, we took tens of thousands of photographs and held shoot after shoot. After some debate our sitting room was remodeled as a studio and the house was besieged by a procession of friendly neighbors and models.

How to judge our progress? Well, most of our friends told us that our pictures were ‘awesome’ … but the they tell me much the same thing about my cooking, which I am well aware is breathtakingly dreadful. We needed some kind of objective standard and at this point, Laura discovered Portrait Masters, an internationally recognized training and accreditation body. She submitted some of our images and they were awarded the bronze award in three portrait categories: children, teens and contemporary. She was delighted that a team of expert judges had seen the value of our work. I was pleased but less ecstatic. “Next year we are going for Gold”, I told her.