Photographs are also relatively inexpensive, which makes them quite attractive to both collectors and the gallery owners who sell them. Galleries can test the waters, so to speak, without having to necessarily make a huge investment. “You can buy a picture by a contemporary master of traditional photography for $1,000 to $5,000, which is very little money compared to prints or original paintings,” said Perloff.
The potential collector base for photographs is also bigger than it’s ever been. No longer the darling of just the young and cutting-edge, photography has found a home in the collections of art lovers at all levels of the market. High-end collectors have been dropping millions at auction for work by such masters as Ansel Adams or Alfred Stieglitz. Yet other collectors are happy to plunk down a mere $500 to take home work by a yet-to-be-discovered artist.
“In a way, you have people with a lot of money at the high end and people with a little bit of money at the low end,” said The Photograph Collector’s Perloff. “Obviously, there are also any number of longtime collectors in between, as well.”
Podgorsky said the potential collector base is also quite large due to the accessibility of photographs. “Some of the old stuff that goes along with visiting galleries about how art-educated you have to be, how knowledgeable you have to be, sort of disappears when you look at photography,” he said. “You look at it and you know what it is. Everybody can identify in some way with a photograph.”
For many gallery owners who are hesitant to break into photography, the process isn’t as complicated or intimidating as it may seem. Most dealers agree that getting started in the photography market is really not all that different from bringing on a new artist in a medium you already carry or planning to bring sculpture into a gallery that traditionally only carried fine art prints or paintings.
“It’s just like moving into any other segment, like prints or sculpture or something they haven’t handled before,” said Perloff. “The drill is pretty much the same.”
The first and most important part of the process is education and research. Stock up on photography books. Bone up on the hottest photography exhibits at museums and galleries. Subscribe to the most up-to-date trade and consumer publications on the market, such as The Photograph Collector, Aperture or American Photo. It’s also vital to visit as many photo shows and important art fairs featuring photographs among the varied art offerings, such as Art Basel, Art Chicago, The Art Show and The Armory Show.
And when it is time to pick up photographers, it might be best to rely on the eyes of the experts. Visit the most respected photography galleries in art-heavy towns like New York or Los Angeles. “Go to the photography galleries. In New York, probably every significant photographer is represented at a gallery. And they might not have the exclusive, so there will be other people to find and forge relationships with,” Perloff advised. “There are lots of galleries who represent photographers who might look to strike deals in other places. So getting in touch with the galleries and seeing what they are exhibiting is important.”
Once you have decided to take the leap into photography and start checking out potential artists, it is also important to keep your current collector base in mind, as they will most likely be the first ones purchasing the work. “If you have been in business for some time, you’ve established a collector base, and you have to use your best guess and imagine if this new photographer is going to fit into the collections of your existing collector,” said Podgorsky. “It definitely doesn’t have to look the same as what you already carry. But you somehow have to imagine how the people who you’ve been selling art to for the past couple of years could see it in their collections. There is no science to that. It’s really a gut feeling a dealer has to have.”
And as in all forms of art, once you settle on the medium and select your first photographers, it is incredibly important to feel a passion about the photographs you decide to sell in your gallery. “You have to deal in work you feel very strongly about” said Richardson.
Unlimited Artistic Potential
According to many veteran photography dealers, one of the most exciting and convincing arguments for carrying photography is the open-mindedness of collectors to try out new artists, a trait not always displayed by traditional fine art collectors. In photography, it’s possible to break into the field and still attract strong collectors with rather inexpensive, unknown artists.
“I think a lot of my clients are interested in seeing new work and discovering new artists,” said Richardson. “They’re very excited to see the work when we take on a new artist, and they often buy it. These are people who are serious collectors who are always buying. That is where the contemporary art collector and a big chunk of the photography collectors fall.”
Podgorsky agreed, adding that collectors are more apt to take a chance on a lesser-known photographer in order to get a possible jump-start on the market of a future master. “There are a lot of people who, for the right price, are willing to discover someone or make an investment in a photographer who is not a household name,” he said. “That’s one of the really great things about this field. You can find someone really great, who is wonderful and exciting, for $500 to $1,000. There is a lot of excitement about discovering new photographers and trying to guess who might be the next Cindy Sherman or Ansel Adams.”
What to Sell?
Because the market for photography is so large and the possibilities are seemingly endless, there is no “sure thing” to focus your sights on. Black-and-white landscapes, photojournalism, color “God’s-eye-view” snapshots of nature, large color landscapes, fashion photography and city scenes are just a few things that seem to sell well. Some up-and-coming trends to also watch are digitally created art and video art, according to Perloff. “After a pretty slow start where people were playing with new toys, there’s a lot of great digital work being produced,” he said. “Now, there are some very beautiful prints–striking work. You can still kind of get in on the ground floor.”
But the best advice most photo vets can give is to choose what you like and don’t cave in to every trend you see, because the market is constantly changing, and good art will always sell well. “Don’t do it because it’s trendy,” Perloff advised. “And don’t do it if you don’t really understand it. There are all sorts of mistakes you can make by doing that.”
“What’s fashionable and en vogue is one thing, but what lasts in the history of art is another,” added Gitterman. “If you are collecting something, to live with it and to have it be a part of your life for a long period of time, you develop a relationship with it. For a work of art to be able to do that, it has to have some sort of depth.”
The truth is, photography just needs to fit into one formula for galleries to find success. “It must speak to you and your customers,” said Wild Apple’s Dunwell. “If it does that, it’s the right thing.”
The bracketing technique requires three pictures to be taken (some digital cameras offer an automatic bracketing exposure). The first picture is captured at what is believed to be the ideal exposure (f-stop); the second at no more than two f-stops higher, and the third at no more than two f-stops lower, than the original exposure. The three pictures will document the subject at a graduated range of exposures, which increases your chances of capturing an image with accurate color fidelity. This technique is useful for capturing tooth shade and for calibrating the camera’s auto-exposure mode. Images captured using slide film, for example, will vary even if the film is over- or underexposed by only one-third of an f-stop.
Aperture-priority mode also allows some control over depth of field. With a 100-mm lens, for example, the depth of field is quite shallow. For capturing &mil, such as an occlusal view, the aperture may need to be stepped down (decreased) to increase the depth of field. Most auto-exposure systems allow you to set the aperture to f/8 for full-face shots and f/22 or f/32 for 1:2 and 1:1 shots.
A camera that has an auto-focus feature is a nice convenience for consumers, but in dental photography it can make framing consistency difficult. An auto-focus is designed to select which part of the subject should be in focus. Cameras with a manual focus allow you to set the magnification and then move back and forth until the subject comes into focus. Thus, for framing consistency, it’s best to choose a camera that allows manual focusing. If your eyesight isn’t what it once was, some cameras allow adjustment of the viewfinder to the correct diopter.
The lens should include a ring light attachment with a point light that rotates around the ring for capturing tooth topography and portraits. A ring light is a unique light source that ensures completely shadowless, but concentrated, uniform illumination for high contrast or high key lighting; a point light creates a shadow to reveal topography, shape, and contour and can be rotated 360[degrees]. The Washington Scientific Camera Inc., based in Seattle, Wash., incorporates a dual-point light system, rather than ring and single-point light system. This method also produces excellent lighting results, but availability is limited.
Point lights can cause red-eye in portrait shots if the flash is positioned too close to the lens axis: the flash light bounces off the retina of the eye and into the camera lens, causing the retinal reflection to be recorded. A good system that avoids this problem is the Lester Dine ring and point flash system.
Lighting and color temperature
The color temperature of light is measured in degrees Kelvin (K) and represents the ratio of red and blue in light. Red light is warm and has a lower Kelvin rating than blue light. Average noontime sunlight is approximately 5,500 K. For proper color, your camera’s flash attachment should imitate the color temperature of noontime sun.
Ambient light may also affect the color accuracy of photographs. This is less likely when taking intraoral photographs because the intensity of the ring and dual-point lights and their close proximity to the subject generally “white-out” ambient light.
However, when using a point light to shoot portraits, ambient lighting can affect the color of the captured image. To minimize this potential effect, use daylight spectrum overhead lighting rated at 5,500 K.
Another consideration is the color of the walls and ceilings in the area of the laboratory designated for shade-taking. Walls and ceilings reflect light. Blue walls reflect blue light and add “coolness” to photos; red walls add warmness. Take this into consideration, particularly if bounce lighting will be used to illuminate the patient. White and off-white walls and ceilings are recommended, not only for photographic purposes but also for your own visual acuity. Finally, keep an eye on what the patient is wearing. Bright clothing and lipstick can affect the perceived color temperature of captured images.
Film and color temperature
Film manufacturers often add warm or cool color biases to their films. In dental photography, it’s important to capture images that are as close as possible to natural color. Therefore, use a neutral color-balanced film. Another advantage of these films is that they are manufactured for professional use. This means they are produced to tighter tolerances, which limits variation from roll to roll.
If you use more than one roll of film to capture a series of patient views, make sure each roll is from the same manufacturing lot.
Film ages over time and this can affect its performance, so never use outdated film. Finally, some professional films require refrigeration, while others do not. If your film has been refrigerated, always allow it to warm to room temperature before using it; this prevents condensation from forming on the film.
Photo processing can affect the color bias of photographs. Find a processing lab that understands the needs of professional photographers. You may find such a lab in your community, or you may find it more convenient to send your film to an out-of-town lab such as Qualex Inc., in Fair Lawn, NJ, a Kodak subsidiary. They now have a prepaid mailer you can use for processing Kodak Dental Photographic Print and Slide film.
Make sure the lab you use can accommodate your need for consistent processing, and that it employs a staff trained to master nuances of processing time and temperature. After you’ve chosen a lab, work with them so they understand the need to get as close as possible to neutral color.
Some processing labs use equipment that automatically corrects “improper” exposure settings. If you bracket your photographs, this type of equipment will automatically lighten your underexposed frames and darken your overexposed frames. So, verify that your photo processor does not compensate for “perceived” photographer error.
Mastering dental photography takes time and practice. But the payoff is significant.
In 1980 Ilford Imaging introduced a consumer variation of chromogeic film called XP1. This was an ISO 400 chromogenic film that was easy to use and gave incredible results. Eventually this emulsion evolved to XP2, and today’s XP2 Super. Agfa introduced Vario-XL later the same year, but discontinued it a year later. Many of the staunch traditional film users thought the chromogenic concept to be a passing fad, but this new type of film caught on before long. Kodak later picked up on the idea and introduced chromogenic films for both APS and 35mm cameras. Even Konica came on board with their Monochrome VX400 film.
Currently, there are five chromogenic black-and-white films available in 35mm format: Ilford XP2 Super 400, Kodak Black & White 400, Kodak Professional Portra 400BW, Kodak Professional T400 CN, and Konica Monochrome VX400. Portra 400BW was designed specifically to be printed on color paper; the others produce best results when printed on black-and-white papers, but can also be printed on color papers. XP2 and the two Kodak pro films are also available in larger formats; Black & White 400 is also available in APS format.
There are many reasons this type of black-and-white film has become so popular. The first is that you don’t have to setup a darkroom for film processing or printing black-and-white images. This may not sound like a big deal, but there are photographers who would like to get into black-and-white, but don’t have space allocation or the desire to venture into the wet part of the black-and-white process. There will always be those who will extol the excitement of seeing your first print coming up in the developing tray, but you can still traditionally print these negatives in the darkroom if you desire. The key is that you now have options and alternatives.
Best of all, you can get your chromogenic film processed right along with your color negative film. In fact, you can even take it to your local one-hour lab and see your results in no time at all. Most one-hour labs will print the black-and-white negatives on color paper using a neutral color balance printing channel. Although the processed negatives will have a slight brown or sepia color, they will not appear as that color in the final print, unless you want it that way.
If you desire your black-and-white chromogenic images printed on traditional black-and-white paper, you may have to go to a custom lab. In most cases, they can print your negatives on traditional black-and-white paper and provide great results. They may even use special papers, like Portra from Kodak, which are especially designed for printing chromogenic negatives.
There are also many additional benefits to this film–for example, the film speed. In the rest of the film world you have all different levels of ISO speeds that exist inside one film family. Black-and-white chromogenic films today are rated at ISO 400, and are virtually grainless because of the dye cloud structure in the final processed image. Since there is no need for a low speed to control the grain size, ISO 400 is an ideal film speed for all types of lighting situations.
The exposure latitude is similar to that of color negative film, which averages -3 to +4 stops. Many of these emulsions can be pushed as high as EI 3200 with special push C-41 processing done in custom labs. You can even rate the film as low as EI 50 because of the multilayer construction found in chromogenic films and achieve an even tighter grain pattern than found at ISO 400.
Another advantage of the chromogenic negatives is their compatibility with film scanners such as our Nikon Super Coolscan 4000 ED. Because of the nature of traditional black-and-white films, you cannot take advantage of the Digital ICE (Image Corrective Enhancement) technology found in most of the new scanners. It must be turned off, otherwise you may find some posterization to your images. Since you must turn this unique function off, you will have to remove dust and scratches manually in your editing program.
Chromogenic films, on the other hand, ate excellent candidates for the film scanner because they can take advantage of all the Digital ICE technologies. Your scanned images will have no scratches or dust to edit, and in most cases, you can set the scanner to negative film in the mono/grayrone setting for quick scanning. As the film has no apparent grain, there really is no need to use the GEM (Grain Equalization Management) technology, but we do recommend using the unsharp mask to counteract any sharpness loss due to the scanning process.
Another advantage of chromogenic films is that they print (and scan) equally well with all types of enlargers and scanners. The silver particles in conventional black-and-white negatives scatter some of the light from condenser enlargers, thus exaggerating contrast (the same problem occurs when conventional black-and-white negatives are scanned with many desktop film scanners). Since chromogenic black-and-white negatives contain no particulate silver, they don’t present this problem.
We started our photographic career more than 30 years ago using black-and-white film, and have witnessed some remarkable emulsion improvements over time. We have experienced developing black-and-white film, watched our first print magically appear in the tray, enjoyed the effervescent smell of fixer and the entire wet lab concept. Black-and-white photography is alive and well, we now just have new options and directions available. Chromogenic films have opened a door to those photographers who want to experience the black-and-white world without needing a darkroom. Let’s face it, most photographers just want to get out and take pictures. Chromogenic films make it easier to experience the world of gray tone variations.
As with most outdoor photography, you’ll find the most dramatic lighting first thing in the morning or in the late afternoon, when the sun is low in the sky. If the day is very hazy or windy, don’t bother going up–haze makes for murky photos, and strong winds cause turbulence and image blur due to camera movement. Shoot with the lens wide open in aperture-priority AE to get the fastest possible shutter speed, and lock focus at infinity (over populated areas, regulations require you to be at least 1000 feet above the highest building within 2000 feet of your flight path).
From an Office Window
If you work in a high-rise office building (or can visit someone who does), you have a great vantage point for photography. It’s even a great way to get “aerial” photos without leaving the ground. We’re on the 18th floor of a 20-story building, and it’s amazing the scenes we see out the windows as the weather and time of day change. When shooting through windows, watch out for reflections (although you can use reflections creatively, having a light fixture appear hovering outside, for example). It’s best to use a rubber lens hood and rest it against the window. In lieu of that, you can darken the room and drape a dark cloth over you, and shoot with the lens as close to the glass as possible. It’s best not to shoot at an angle to the glass with long lenses, because sharpness will suffer.
The Local Wildlife Area
You don’t have to go on safari to get outdoor photos. Even the biggest cities often have “natural” areas set aside for the benefit of both nature and man. These are great places to get away from the city hustle and bustle for a while, and they provide great opportunities to photograph both animals and landscapes. These photos were all shot in the Sepulveda Flood Basin in the south-central San Fernando Valley just north of Los Angeles.
4 The Local Air Show
Summer is air-show season, and an airport in your area will probably host one in the several few months. You can get shots of the fair-like atmosphere, the static displays and, of course, of the flying events. A wide-to-tele zoom, such as a 28-200mm or 28-300mm, is a great one-lens airshow package, or you can take a wide-angle lens and a telephoto. For the flying acts, you can record smoke trails with the wide-angle, and tighter shots of the performers’ aircraft with the tele. Something to think about: a fast shutter speed will freeze the action sharply, but will also make propellers and rotors appear to have stopped. Experiment with different shutter speeds, and see which produce the effects you like best.
City Streets at Night
The night offers lots of photo potential. Colorful night lights–either as the subjects, or reflected in wet streets–make great subjects. A long exposure will blur moving traffic into streaks of white headlights and red taillights. Shoot at dusk, when there’s still a little light in the sky, and you can capture detail throughout the photo–lights and unlit areas. Some color film, a tripod and a camera capable of making long exposures are all that’s required.
At the Seashore
If you live on the East or West Coast, you can take pictures at the beach. If you live inland, the beach is a good site for a future vacation–or you can go to a closer large lake. Photo possibilities are numerous: coastlines, sand castles, footprints, beachgoers, sea birds, seals, sunsets and rises, shells, piers, boats and more. Protect your gear from sand and spray (change film and lenses in your car, or under a beach towel), and yourself from the sun (wear a bat and sunscreen), and go beachcombing with your camera.
On The Road
Lonely roads make good photo subjects. When you’re on a driving trip, keep an eye out for interesting sections of road. You’ll find use for all your lens focal lengths here–wide-angles will emphasize the loneliness by making the road appear small, while telephotos will make a series of dips seem to “stack up” close together. You can photograph the road alone, or include your strategically posed vehicle.
At the Zoo
Kids of all ages–from toddler to retiree!–love the zoo. Zoos and wild-animal parks allow you to photograph all kinds of beasts you’d never see otherwise. For photos, try to go when it’s least crowded–usually early mornings on weekdays (check with the specific zoo to find out for sure). A wide-to-tele zoom lens, or several fixed-focal-length lenses including a moderate telephoto, will have you ready to shoot just about anything.
Naturally, you’ll want to choose shooting angles and focal lengths that eliminate evidence that it’s a zoo–cage bars, sprinklers, feeding doors and the like. Look for exciting lighting–high noon generally isn’t a great time for outdoor shooting. Once you’ve got your fill of animal portraits, look for kids’ reactions to animals, and record those.
At the Aquarium
You can photograph underwater creatures–with no special equipment, and without even getting wet. Just go to the nearest aquarium. Fast film will let you shoot by available light. If flash is allowed, aim the camera and flash at an angle to the glass to avoid glare. Experiment with different shutter speeds–sharp sea-critter shots are great, but you can also get some neat abstract images at slower shutter speeds.
Of course, there are always the famous photo locations–national parks, familiar landmarks, caverns, forests in fall, etc. Just because these have been photographed thousands and thousands of times doesn’t mean you should ignore them. They’ve been photographed so much because they make for great photos. So by all means, if you’re in the vicinity, visit and take some pictures.
Wanting to do something different, I recently came up with a fun and beautiful way to photograph an ethnic bride. And you can easily adapt my techniques for your children or other portrait subjects. My photographs began with an image in my mind of my Indian bride floating among flowers. I considered how I might achieve the effect digitally, with the sparkling blue water offsetting her outfit and jewelry. But there’s just no substitute for the real thing!
Luckily, my model went for the concept and was an extremely good sport, consenting to use her parents’ pool. Because of the veil and flowers, we needed some assistants. I positioned her mom in the pool arranging the flow of the head covering and nearby floating flowers. My assistant pushed flowers into the picture frame on the opposite side from the mother. Without as many details to worry about, it would be possible to do a shoot with only one assistant or even solo.
For clothing, I recommend using washable fabrics, which is what I used for my water bride. Chiffon floats and flows beautifully. But let your imagination go–perhaps use a hat instead of a veil or if you have a female subject, a peasant blouse might make a great frame for her face. Many subjects may not want to risk using their good clothes in a pool, so a bathing suit is another option.
For props, let your imagination go too! But remember, it’s probably best to go with something that floats! For this shoot, I used chrysanthemums, with the stems cut off. If flowers are used, they can be color-coordinated with the model’s outfit.
For make-up, lip-gloss is a must for children and adults. Even a man’s lips look sexier with colorless shine. I also usually put a little blush on both women and children for a healthy glow. Baby oil or mineral oil helps to keep the model warmer and makes the skin look good.
Originally, I wanted my subject to float on her back and look up at the camera, but that would have messed up her careful make-up job and hair. So we went with partial submersion for most of the shoot. However, in the few frames that we did shoot on her back, she looked very uncomfortable. If your subject is unhappy, the portraits will reflect their mood. However, a water-safe child would probably float easily. And if your subject is a woman with long hair, you could achieve a dramatic effect by fanning her hair out around her head.
Another important thing to consider when working in a swimming pool is the subject’s temperature. To maintain your subject’s warmth, it is best to keep them moving, even a little bit. I found slow sweeping motions with the arms were good for both the body temperature of the model and dramatic effect for my pictures.
For equipment, a zoom lens (somewhere around 50-150mm) is great for framing and taking pool walls out of the picture. An assortment of filters, such as cross-screen or 6X star, fog or soft focus, can reap many dramatic effects. And a small (steady!) stepladder can really put you over your floating subject These images were made on Kodak Ektachrome Elite 400 film. I didn’t use any flash because I found that when I shot with fill flash, it eliminated the effects of my 6X star filter.
So the next time you can’t find an exciting location for your portraits, don’t let your spirits get dampened. Get your subjects wet! Using a pool background can create spectacular portraits for your family album!