Friday, December 9, 2011

Inside the Portrait Studio ~

We had another terrific lighting and posing workshop at our studio earlier this week, again hosted by my friend Jordan Sleeth from Advance Camera. With six students and five hours, we have plenty of time to cover a lot of ground and get tons of hands-on experience. Courtney Stevens was our model for the evening, and she was just great -- and incredibly patient!

Working in the studio has always been the most fascinating aspect of photography to me. It boils photography down to its essence: pure light. What I really love doing is have the students put down their cameras for a few minutes and just look.
We watch as light and shadow do a little dance on our model's face, and create such a range of texture and shape, motion and emotion, that the seemingly simple act of making a portrait becomes something much more creative and intimate. Ultimately it is this that I want to impart more than anything else.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Intimacy of a Portrait ~

I'm getting prepared to do a lighting workshop today at the studio, and this prompted me to reflect on the qualities we look for in a really fine portrait. What sets us apart from the garden-variety, ordinary, and every-day kind of photo? Did we nail the lighting? Are we building dynamic, interesting poses? It's all of this, but yet something more: we need to step over the barrier that exists between the photographer and the subject. We need to appreciate the inherent intimacy involved in creating the portrait, and that exploring this is what will allow the viewer to end up knowing more about that person than about the photographer. Simplicity and empathy are more effective tools than props and fast lenses to achieve something memorable; my goal is always to create the sort of image that through the years, people will always stop in their tracks to view it. I think this portrait that Whitney created recently is a wonderful example of that.

I took this portrait of my friend Monterey a few years ago, and have always loved the joy and spontaneity that she shares. These are what make a portrait truly timeless and beautiful, no matter who you are photographing or even what kind of camera equipment you have. Get close! Take your time! Listen, and observe. Every human on earth shines with a beauty that is there for you to find and reveal.

And share? 

If you'd like to see more images from Whitney's session, open this link to her blog: 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sauvie Island, late Fall

I thought I'd post some of the shots I took about a week ago out on Sauvie Island - probably autumn's last gasp around here. We took a couple of long hikes, and at times the trails were so covered over with fallen yellow leaves that we were literally slogging through them. And, so typically Oregon, just gray skies and lightly falling rain. I love this time of year!

The past couple months have been fun for me, as I've given myself some challenges to get out of the studio and just pick up the camera and start looking. Actually, seeing. I think it's been good exercise, and has helped to re-charge the creative batteries back in the studio, too. Plus, many of my friends have been sharing their photos with me here, and that's been a terrific joy for me.
I'm going to be continuing our discussion about looking at photographs, and how we go about presenting our work. This has been a wonderful, challenging direction this blog has taken, and I continue to look forward to your input. And your photos. Everything I read and see from you inspires the heck out of me, and makes me realize just how high the bar is out there for truly creative, beautiful photography.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


Friday, November 18, 2011

For Discussion ~ How Do We Look At Photographs?

I brought this up on my last post, but really wanted to revisit this topic in greater detail. Are we cheating ourselves out of fully enjoying and appreciating photography? When we were using film and paper, everything had to be printed and we were used to the idea that we would visit galleries to see beautifully printed photos. That experience could be a very moving one, as photographers took great care in making and presenting their work.
I have always thought, as the son of an artist, that viewing any artwork - a painting, a sculpture, a photograph - was a most intimate experience, forged by the necessary connection between artist and viewer. The artifact we look at is directly from the artist's hand. Are we getting the same experience from a computer monitor?

As a photographer who has exhibited - and loves nothing more than to see photos exhibited - I think we're missing some intangible, but very real qualities that don't express well with a computer. Things like the texture of the paper, or the size of the image itself: is it on a grand scale that invites awe, or something small and delicate that draws the viewer inward? Art demands our attention, not just a fleeting glance.
Don't get me wrong, I shoot exclusively digital and am delighted at the potential for sharing images that it offers. These wonderful black & whites, recently made by my brother Jim Hutt, are a perfect example of that. But I'm hoping that we take time to develop our printing skills, taking advantage of the incredible media that's available to us, and taking the time to visit and encourage the galleries that are exhibiting photographs.
Your thoughts?  Mine do tend to ramble.....

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

We're Still Seeing Red ~

Here's a photo taken by my 13 - year old niece Becca with her mom's new Nikon. She's just discovering her interest in photography, and took our "seeing red" challenge quite to heart! I wasn't that much older than her when I first starting taking pictures with my dad's old rangefinder Yashica, so I'm excited to see her go at it!

Here's an image my sister calls simply "cool red wall", which she took while out shooting with my niece. This is what I love about photography, and about giving ourselves artistic projects that focus our attention to details we otherwise miss while going about our daily lives. Seeing art in the world around us is the ultimate human talent, and we don't always need a camera for that. But capturing it is sublime!

I love this old barn image that Becca took: the warm tone, the rough textures, and the old tree that's chewing up the roof. You have to wonder how many people go past this without ever seeing it. Becca, I hope you continue to use your eyes and your camera (or your mom's!) to photograph your world. It's inspiring for all of us who practice this craft!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Wholmer, redux

I posted this image by Will Wholmer a couple weeks ago, but that particular file was pretty low-res and just didn't do the shot justice. It's such an incredible photo that I wanted to see it here with the quality it deserves. I thought about it today as I drove under this beautiful bridge on my way to shoot some of the Oregon fall scenery on Sauvie Island ~ hopefully, some images to follow! But it also got me thinking about how we view photographs these days, and whether it's on a blog or Facebook, I just don't think the computer monitor gives us as good an experience as seeing the same image beautifully printed and properly displayed. I'd love to see this gorgeous photo of Will's up in a gallery someday. I'd pay to see it. So would you.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Red Round 3

We're still getting some interesting submissions for our "Red" challenge, and it's wonderful to see how creative people respond to artistic challenges. It's great to just get out and shoot, and for me, it's just as great to sit back and look at others' photos. Here's a couple from my big bro Jim.

He took these red-themed photos in Old Town Fort Collins, Colorado. Accompanying him was our 13-year old niece Becca, who is turning out to be  a wonderful photographer as well. We're going to see some of her photos here soon, I think! Jim, like me, is a Canon shooter, and these were taken with his 40D. I really love his style of shooting and printing, which makes me think he just has a lot of fun with it. The Joy of Photography shouldn't be only a book title, it should be the way we approach our craft very day.

And that got me to reminiscing about my earlier days working with digital photography! I took this shot way, way back when... with a Nikon 995. Remember those? They were sweet indeed. I took this shot of a flaming red Japanese maple in my front yard in Portland, and wondered how it might have held up after all this time...

I hope you're holding up well after all this time, too!  


Friday, November 4, 2011

Viewers' Choice!

Alright, this should be fun! Here's the Red photo that Whitney shot just yesterday ~ and I have to say, it's beautiful! I love having these self-imposed "assignments"; it really brings out the creative mojo that we sometimes miss in our day-to-day shooting. And we're leaving the voting up to our friends here in the blogosphere - - what do you think?
This one below is mine. I like it. I like Whitney's better.

And by all means, this light-hearted informal contest is not over. It never really is, because it's something to continually work on. And you guys out there: send something over! Not only do you get the benefit of exercising your creative muscle in the company of your fellow photographers, but there might -- just might -- be a coffee in it for you.  Can't tell me you can pass that up.....

Let me know which one you like the most!

Monday, October 31, 2011

RED Results!

I had a chance to get in to the studio a few days ago to spend some time composing a red-themed still life shot. It was a creative "shot in the arm", which is exactly what Whitney & I have in mind when we create these kinds of self-projects. In this image, I wanted to juxtapose a little bit of red with a starkly green background. I tried dozens of simple compositions and dozens of lighting options, but I kind of like this result best. I rarely do still lifes, but wanted to stretch myself a bit. Regardless, to me, the studio is the most fun, most challenging, most creative place on earth.

But sometimes, a delightful image is just hanging outside your door, waiting for you to open your eyes and see it. This fuschia is a case in point -- hanging from a basket just outside our back door, still looking beautiful in mid-October (you gotta love Oregon!). Sometimes I get so fixed on shooting in the studio that I don't always see the simply beautiful images all around me. This is diffused available light (again, Oregon!) captured using a Canon Macro lens, and interpreted using onOne software.
And I couldn't leave without adding a photo I took of my incredibly lovely nieces Becca and Katie. I was in Denver last week conducting a workshop and spent a day up in Loveland with my family.  The beautiful window light created an opportunity to make a simple and serene portrait. I hope Whitney notices the wall is red, too.

What have YOU been working on?  Whatever it is, I hope it's been something that has your creative juices flowing.  Just not on your computer, ok?

That's what coffee is for.  Later, amigos!     Dave

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sharing Some Cool Black & White!

Hey friends, just had to share this incredible shot from my friend Will Holmer. When he first showed it to me it knocked me out, which it still does every time I see it. You Portland locals will recognize the St. Johns Bridge, crossing the Willamette River in North Portland. It's one of the west coast's most beautiful and iconic suspension bridges, and this view of it is like none I've ever seen.  I think it's a real masterpiece; thanks Will!
I especially enjoy looking at great black & white imagining, but haven't had a chance to do much of it since my large format & darkroom days -- and boy, sometimes I truly miss those days, too. But it's patently obvious that, in skilled hands like Will's, one can make stunning black & white images with digital technology. Add to that a sophisticated printer and the fine-art ink jet papers available, and you have the ability to make prints that easily rival what we produced back in the day. (Now if they can just reproduce the smell of the hypo....)

This image on the right is one that was made by my brother Jim, who has produced an impressive body of work over the years that I have always loved. (He's a Psychologist, but I think he just does that to support his photography habit!). This image is illustrative of his style, which typically employs a palette of strong values and whimsical compositions.

I'm including here an old B&W that I took back in 1981 with a Mamiya RB 67.  Here's the problem I have with it: although it's a perfectly scanned negative, I just can't seem to make an image from the file that I'm satisfied with. Or with anything I've had scanned from old negatives. It seems my brain has tied the images to the chemical process, and won't let me re-interpret them digitally. I wonder if anyone else has similar experiences, or if, as I suspect, I'm truly a unique blockhead.....

Don't answer that.  But if you have a cool black & white photo to share, I would LOVE to see it!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Workshops & Red!

So, Whitney sent me this photo a few days ago as a not-so-subtle reminder that a) she's working away on our self-imposed "red" challenge (though need I remind her that it's the winner who buys the lattes ~ and besides, this images looks more rust colored than red. Just saying) and b) it's time we start planning up another studio lighting/glamour photography workshop. I really thinks it's about the most fun we have all year.

These workshops are a great way to share in that fun while spending a day with a beautiful model, exploring the many ways to creatively control lighting and posing in the studio. Whitney and I have very different shooting and lighting styles, so we always enjoy working together and getting ideas from each other. Our workshops explore the different ways that we work, offering you a unique approach to helping you develop your own style.

Plus there are opportunities to work with me in the studio throughout the year. I work with Sharon O'Keefe at the Pacific Northwest Center for Photography. I addition to my studio program, she has a whole list of terrific workshops put on by some of the areas most exciting photographers. I've also done workshops over the years with Advance Camera, hosted by my good friend Jordan Sleeth. These are more intensive on studio lighting techniques and, as always, really informative and a lot of fun. Email me for information on any of these or check the "events" page on my davehuttphotography website.  And keep sending me your photos ~ especially something for our current "red" challenge! As for the photo above: now, that's red.
Toodles~   Dave

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Up For A Challenge?

My friend & studio partner Whitney and I have been shooting for a lot of years. Occasionally we find that we have to prod ourselves into pushing some creative limits to keep things fresh and, yes, fun. So we give ourselves photo challenges, and this time, since we both are blogging, she thought it would be fun to open then up to our friends & followers.
Here's what she's posted:  (
"The DW Projects

One thing I have learned about photography is you can get a little rusty, burnt out or even just plain Stuck.  The only way I find to get through these bumps or to prevent them from happening is to KEEP SHOOTING.  You have to push through and find ways to keep your creativity flowing.  For me this means not always shooting for money.  Dont get me wrong....I am not saying I need to do a bunch of free shoots...I do need to still make a living! ha ha.  But what I mean is to do some shooting just for myself.  This can mean coming up with something new that I havent tried or just taking an afternoon to shoot. OR even better.....a challenge for me is always to take photographers with NO people. This one is always a bit tough for me but it can help open my mind up to new ideas.

So this brings us to The DW Projects. A good friend/studio partner of mine Dave Hutt decided we would make a little game out of it.  Of course game plus prize will help make me accountable! I am silly...but its true.  Each month he and I will come up with an idea, theme or concept and we will each need to present one photo.  Winner owes the other one coffee :)  Easy enough.  This will also give us each fun little posts throughout the month and if there are any photographers out there who want to follow along and play too that would be awesome!

This month we are going to keep it pretty simple and just go with the word "RED."  There are no rules except it must be a photograph we have taken this month and must fit "RED."

Stay tuned for more blog posts with possible RED photos as well as our final entries at the end of the month...

~Whitney "    
Well, are you up for it? I'm already thinking up some ideas, and would be really jazzed if you are too and feel like sharing with us. And hey, anything goes. Inside or out, people, places, things, abstracts, or just plain strange. Even black & white. As long as it's somehow connected to "RED". Interpret that as you may. The only "rule": it has to be something you are inspired to go out and shoot, not something you've already done. I know, who's going to know. But it keeps in the spirit of things, and puts you on Santa's "good" list.
And as Whitney said, the winner owes the other one coffee! 
Make mine a tall latte.  Toodles!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Love That High-Key!

I'm a studio shooter, and especially enjoy working with dark dramatic shadows and heavy tones. So naturally it makes sense that I'd make one of my first posts here about...high key lighting?  Sure, why not? It makes you approach the studio a little differently, mainly in popping additional light on the white seamless background (usually a couple stops over my target exposure) and flatten out the lighting on your model. I love the way colors pop out in a high-key shot, and you see a lot of fashion work done this way.

I really like this portrait sent to me by my friend Otto Durant; a guy who knows his way around the studio.  I like the dramatic shading, and the background value is brought down just enough to compliment it, rather than stay too bright. Neat shot!

I often work with layers in Photoshop to create a textured background when I have an appropriate high-key image, an action that is made easier with OnOne software plug-in.
So, yeah, I do like working in high-key more often than not. It takes a few extra strobes and a little practice to get that pure white, and enough room to shoot in order to avoid getting "flare". But it's worth the effort!

Are you shooting high-key? Drop a comment, or send a sample. Keep it nice and bright!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Yes, that's me.......

Been at this a long time -- photography, that is. That's me back in 1970, my freshman year in college (notice the sweet Nikon F). Just three years later I would begin an apprenticeship at a wonderful old portrait studio, Fendley Studio, in Cheyenne Wyoming. Nothing could possibly have remained the same afterwards.

My first few months there were spent in learning the darkroom, and I mean really learning, from the ground up. I remember the chemicals and techniques we were using then: amidol developers, 5x7 Ektapan film, the whole range of Ektalure papers... it was a magnificent time. Then, later on, I received the best grounding in studio lighting that a person can get, and I've only built upon that ever since. Along the way I had the good fortune to work with some outstanding photographers in some incredible studios in California, Colorado, and Washington.

A lot of other great things got mixed in there as well: college and grad school, marriage and kids, and photo retail. Plus, I was able to work with some of the first wave of digital photographers, and honed my photoshop & shooting skills early on.  I'm afraid I don't know any other life. You see, my dad was an artist ( a watercolorist & art gallery owner) so most of my formative years were spent surrounded by painters and sculptors and the like. So it has been natural for me to indulge my passion for the photographic image.

So why the blog?  Because I'd like to share that passion with you, and hope you'll share yours with me. I'll post images I'm working on (mostly portrait and figure) and hope you'll comment on them. And then, email me a photo that I will post here, too -- not to critique or analyze, but to share and enjoy.  Anything: portraits, nudes, landscapes, still lifes, restorations, whatever you love. And camera talk. I love to talk shop.

Hey, I know you're out there. I can hear you breathing.

Toodles!       Dave