From idea to print in 5 silly steps

I recently printed this image. It’s an environmental portrait of my girlfriend Gosia on the beach. Let me take you on a journey filled with romance, excitement and silly puns as I’ll tell you how this wall gracing masterpiece got blown into existence.

Gosia on the beach

Hubris

  • excessive pride or self-confidence.
  • (In Greek tragedy) excessive pride towards the gods, leading to nemesis.

Completely sold on that second definition!

Assignment

Every portrait starts with an assignment. This time I assigned myself to make a portrait of Gosia. I love doing both her and photography so I wanted to combine the two and create something memorable.

1. The Idea

Gosia’s birthday is the 7th of August (I tend to forget, she loves to remind me). A couple of years ago I bought the dress you see on the photo for her birthday. Yes I’m the kind of guy that buys dresses for his girlfriend (feel free to contact me btw)…

In any case! I really love that summer dress on her, it accentuates all the right places, it’s really colorful and it was dirt cheap.

Every time I see her in that dress I see a warm summer day…

[fade in a romantic scene…]

Picture this; sunset at the beach, the sand still warm as it slips between our toes, the waning sun rays coloring our silted skin red as we are making our way home. Our bodies tired but honed for love making that evening.

[rudely cut out of romantic scene]

Back in reality our son would be walking behind us crying of exhaustion with piss running down his legs. But pictures don’t have to be about reality and they hardly ever are.

Needless to say I wanted the portrait to have a bit of mystery a lot of romance and a hint of magic.

2. The shoot

The weather in Holland is shit (I’ve tried be whimsical about it, but brutal honesty in this case works best), so after a couple of weeks we decided to settle for a summer day that wasn’t too drowsy. Which meant we traded warm sand between our toes for moist sand between our toes, red silted skin for bleek covered skin and the only thing we were truly honed for was irritation.

Here are a couple of shots I rejected.

I don’t smoke.
Where the sun never sets.
I believe I can fly
Is this going to take much longer…

3. Editing

No not that type of editing but rather curating, selecting, throwing out the bad and keeping the acceptable. My workflow is easily characterized as serendipitous so I usually have to wade through hundreds of images to find a couple of hidden misty gems; but not this time! Due to my familiarity with the subject and my impeccable preparation I only had 83 of images to go through. Lucky!

I picked the following image as my final. This is unedited straight out of camera (people seem to find that important).

I picked this image as my final.

4. To Photoshop or not to Photoshop

Are we still talking about this? Of course to Photoshop! Don’t believe any of my photographs, up is down and down is up! Black is white and white is black! It’s all a great lie.

For this photo I wanted to edit out the strobe, do a some retouching and go nuts with the colors. The sand and water line turned out to be a bit trickier than I anticipated but I managed.

Here’s the result.

Gosia beach final image edited and approved.

5. Print and presentation

After the final edit many years past, leaves turned yellow then red fell of the trees and withered. Putin lost a bit more hair, Trump turned even more orange and Kim Yung Un worked on his third chin and a launched a couple of missiles. Business as usual, nothing to see here, please move along…

A Photograph is like a good sauce you need to let it marinade (or in my case add a bunch of hot sauce and a whole lot of salt because screw it I suck at cooking). It often happens that right after I shoot or edit a photograph I can’t judge if it’s good enough, I need to forget about the image and then look at it again.

The day of the shoot was April 1st (no pun intended) 2014. Only in 2018 I picked the image to be printed. The idea came after talking to my local printer who told me how he prints on rough fiber paper and finishes it with a special selected varnish that he rolls on himself. The idea fascinated me and the image of Gosia immediately came to mind. We reviewed the image and discussed how it should be framed. I relied on his expertise and I didn’t get disappointed!

Here’s the end result neatly hanging on our living room wall.

It’s all in the presentation.

The printer is RigidPhoto:

Ridigphoto came recommended by my good friend Bas Adriaans:

Gosia wishes to remain anonymous.