This happy photo

by Jon Sullivan - 2019-10-30

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For me photos should be an intersection of technique, subject, composition and story. Here's the story behind this photo.

One of the things I love about studio photos is the complete control you have to make something magical. To make a photo unlike what the eye can see. Something very fake and very real all at the same time. If you were standing in my living room when I took this you'd be shocked at how little it looks like the end result.


What you'd have seen is a tiny flower next to a huge box light with lots of cardboard set up here and there to baffle the light just right. So very brightly lit. And my goofy rig with flexible arms and alligator clips to hold it all just right. Also random piles of stuff just out of frame that I need to tidy up. It's also from my patio, so it was covered in dirt and pollen grains.

This photo was a whole process - Buying and re-potting plants in hopes one would look good. Taking care of them until just the right flower came along. Setting up the lighting to get that "lost in space" look I use way too much. An hour or so in post processing getting the shadows right and removing dozens of stray pollen grains and dust bits.

Sometimes I wonder if it's weird to spend so much time and money on something with no tangible gain. I don't really sell photos, and I have no "influencer" brand I'm trying to build. And while I waste plenty of time playing video games or watching cat videos, those have the benefit of relaxation and entertainment.

And I'm not an artist. Some might argue I'm making art, but I never see it that way. It just makes me happy, so I do it. It's no more "art" than a walk in the woods or some gardening.

This photo just makes me happy. And the hours spent making it happen are rewarded by being able to just look at it for years to come and have it make me happy all over again.

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