Pete Souza on Photography

F-Train

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I think that this new video is worth watching for anyone who takes candid photographs. I find it interesting that Souza initially stuck to prime lenses but added a 24-70 zoom in Obama’s second term. For flash, only bounced Speedlight. He also took a light touch to photo editing/Lightroom.


 
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F-Train

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I always admired Pete's work, so it is interesting to hear him speak about the experience.
Yes, and I think that this video has a lot to say about what can be achieved with simple gear and a light touch when it comes to editing. In Obama’s second term, Souza brought in a 24-70 zoom, but before that he mostly used a 35, a 50 and a 135. That’s the mark of a photographer who knows what he’s doing.

Plus natural light and, when necessary, a bounced Speedlight; and as a very fine commercial photographer once taught me, a styrofoam coffee cup over a Speedlight is a great diffuser.

I’m especially struck by what Souza says about Photoshop/Lightroom. A really high percentage of the photos that I see have been Lightroomed to death. There are tools that can be used to create highly saturated, high contrast photos, but maybe using them mostly demonstrates either bad taste and bad judgment, or that the photo, instead of being “fixed”, should have been sent to the bin.
 
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mofunk

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I like Pete's photography work. Most of his stuff is simply perfect timing. I peeped some of his EXIF on the photos vs the current photogs in the White House and its so very different.
 

F-Train

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I like Pete's photography work. Most of his stuff is simply perfect timing. I peeped some of his EXIF on the photos vs the current photogs in the White House and its so very different.
Your post made me curious about who the current White House photographer is. Her name is
Shealah Craighead, Wikipedia entry here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shealah_Craighead
 
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mofunk

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My curiosity started when Jared Polin critiqued the president's portrait. I remember seeing a job listing for the position.
 

mollyc

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Thank you for sharing; I saved this thread for a few days until I could watch the video. I agree he is an amazing photographer, and I think for someone in such a high profile documentary position that light editing is key to keeping it natural. For other non-historical type of work, though, I don't think light editing is at all necessary, and a more robust edit on an image doesn't mean it should have been trashed before editing.

I am working on personal documentary photography this year but still shape the light some in post to give my photo a different meaning. Is it true journalism? No, but that's not my goal.
 

F-Train

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For other non-historical type of work, though, I don't think light editing is at all necessary, and a more robust edit on an image doesn't mean it should have been trashed before editing.

I am working on personal documentary photography this year but still shape the light some in post to give my photo a different meaning. Is it true journalism? No, but that's not my goal.
I think that Souza’s work conveys a salutary message about editing. I didn’t mean to suggest that proactive editing is inherently bad. Fashion and portrait photography have long histories of retouching. Then there are artists like Jeff Wall, whose whole output is constructed. See this example that I just posted in another thread: https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/whats-the-point-of-photography.2166338/page-3#post-27041326

I’m talking about Lightrooming a photograph to death by cranking up things like Clarity, Saturation and Contrast to levels that make a photograph look like a bad painting. It’s rampant.

I think that if people took the time to shoot a couple of rolls of film and develop and print it themselves, they’d be more likely to figure out that just because Lightroom lets you do something, it doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea :)
 
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