Put your panoramic photos forward with 30% off lay-flat hardcover books during Richard's annual Banned Books Week Sale!
Smooth matte lay-flat pages do just what they say—the spreads use hinged binding to sit completely flat so nothing is hidden within the spine. Perfect for showing your images in their full glory...
Download ROES and use promo code 30LAYFLAT16R now through October 3rd, 2016.
Soulmates making images full of soul... meet O'Malley Photographers! Scott and Ashlee are a husband and wife team of wedding and lifestyle photographers, constantly in pursuit of inspiring locations and natural light with film cameras in hand. Their clean & timeless imagery has been featured by numerous print and online publications, including Martha Stewart Weddings, BRIDES, Once Wed, Darling Magazine, Style Me Pretty, Magnolia Rouge, Wedding Sparrow, Hearth Magazine and more. Today in Richard's Photog Spotlight, we're talking with Scott and Ashlee about their favorite tools of the trade, the "no-brainer" of their pro careers, and the important lesson they got on guarding their creativity!
Richard: What first sparked your passion for photography?
Scott O'Malley: The first photo I remember taking was a 35mm film panoramic image of the Sawtooth Mountains in Central Idaho. I grew up painting and always had a passion to see the world and translate that sense of wonder into art. A decade or so later, I spent several years traveling the world with a rock band. It was the speed at which concerts, cities and memories came and went on tour that made me a photographer. I think life is short and meant to be fully lived, and photography is the best way to document and share a well-lived life.
Ashlee O'Malley: Growing up, my home was full of photography and music. My dad always had a camera of some type in hand. I have the majority of my childhood captured on video, and those videos are now my most treasured possession. My dad also shot 35mm film, peaking my interest at an early age.
R: Making the leap from photography as a personal passion to a paying gig is a big one... how did you decide to pursue it as a career?
SO: I was lucky enough to apprentice under another great wedding photographer. We were housemates when I was in university, and he took me along to weddings and shoots. This gave me the confidence to step out on my own and start a business. The leap into photography as a full-time career choice took time, but now I can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing.
AO: Scott and I love traveling together, so naturally, without even really trying, destination work has been a big part of our company since the beginning. In fact, our first wedding ever was a destination. If you can successfully build an international brand that pays you to travel the world while documenting the best moments in peoples lives, all with your best friend, it’s kind of a no-brainer.
R: When you aren't shooting for clients, what do you LOVE to photograph?
SO: I love taking picture of landscapes, new places, interiors and my family.
AO: I love portraits, and I particularly love photographing other artists. Whether in a studio, or a florist out foraging in the wild, it’s so fun to learn from someone else’s creative process and document what someone is passionate about. I also like dogs—dogs make great subjects.
R: How do you find a balance between being creatively fulfilled and being able to pay the bills?
S&A: This is such an important question! For years, we worked so hard to build our business that we didn’t rest well or give much thought to recharging creatively. It was only after we hit a wall and a mentor of ours (in fact, the person who introduced us) said, “you have to guard your creativity, the world will try and take it from you” that we began to realize just how important it is. We’ve now learned that travel and collaborating with other artists are the best ways to feed our creativity, and we try to make as much room for these things as we can.
R: What is your favorite camera and why?
SO: You can almost always find me with a Contax 645. There is just something about it that makes sense to me! The images are timeless, and I love the simple controls. For quick digital memories, I like the Leica Q.
AO: I’m drawn to emotive and spontaneous moments, so 35mm cameras with faster auto-focus work really well for me. I’ve been loving my Nikon F100 lately!
R: What's your first memory of shooting with film? Why do you continue to shoot it as a pro?
S&A: We both grew up shooting film and really never stopped. Each artist needs to decide what they are trying to say and then pick tools that help them say it. We love film because we believe in timeless, beautiful, and fun images. Trends come and go, but we are trying to make family heirlooms that last for generations and are planning to make film images for decades to come. Film has a natural elegance and intangible beauty that speaks to us, and our clients often comment on the "romantic quality", "beautiful colors" and "natural skin tones". In short, we think film is a higher-quality product and requires a commitment to the craft that is consistent with the images we want to make and the life we want to live.
R: Why is it important to have continuous communication with your lab(s)?
S&A: Photographers have always relied on a great lab/printer to make them look their best—it’s really the second half of the artistic process. Scanning and printing is an art, just like photography, so it’s important to have great communication so your lab knows your final vision.
R: Do you have any pre-shoot rituals?
SO: Basically, Ashlee’s just trying to convince me that it’s not going to rain all day and that it’s all going to be okay!
R: If you weren't a photographer, what would you be when you grow up?
SO: An architect or fly-fishing guide.
AO: A sociologist. I love studying human behavior and interactions
R: What song/music do you listen to to get pumped up?
SO: East Coast hip hop from the 90’s.
AO: Snoop Dogg, always. Lately, Laura Welsh has been on repeat, too.
R: If you were a super hero, what would your super power be?
SO: Flying sounds pretty awesome.
AO: Hip hop dancing. Technically, it’s not a superpower, but it’s totally out of the realm of possibility for me to be good at, so that would be pretty awesome!
R: What is your favorite word, and why?
AO: Um, "chocolate"? Who doesn’t love hearing the word chocolate? Yes, please.
It’s a question every photographer, both film and digital, has asked themselves: do I need a JPEG or a TIFF? Each file format has its place, so join Richard as we explore their special characteristics and when you should use each one!
WHAT IS A JPEG?
A JPEG, or Joint Photographic Experts Group, is a raster image file format (i.e. it is composed of a grid of pixels). JPEGs use a super-smart compression system that deletes data in a file to make the file size smaller—then, when the JPEG is opened again, the program opening it will use the information remaining in the file to “guesstimate” a reconstruction of the missing data. You can select different levels of compression, and every time the image is edited and saved it will be compressed to some degree. This compression is heavier in color than clarity.
Above image courtesy of Steven Larson
WHAT IS A TIFF?
A TIFF, or Tagged Image File Format, is also a raster image file format (i.e. it is composed of a grid of pixels). TIFFs are typically uncompressed files or use lossless compression, resulting in very high quality images and, subsequently, very large file sizes. However, a JPEG that is converted into a TIFF will not have a lossless image quality—any existing file degradation will be carried into the TIFF, it just won’t continue to loose data as you edit and save.
WHAT ABOUT JPEG 2000?
Aww, poor JPEG 2000. It is, in fact, a superior version of the JPEG because it compresses with less degradation to the image while still producing a small file size. But this file format got stuck in a vicious cycle after it was released: tech companies and camera manufacturers didn’t want to update their products to be compatible with the JPEG 2000 format until it was widely used, but consumers didn’t want to use it until the format was widely supported.
WHICH ONE IS BETTER?
Whoa now, slow your roll… After reading the above, you’re probably thinking “Why would I ever NOT want a TIFF?” But there’s more to the story than that. It all depends on the type of photographer you are, what you are doing with the files, and what your needs are!
WHAT IF I’M A DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHER?
When you are shooting, you can typically choose to shoot your images as RAW files or JPEGS. RAW files have all of the unprocessed data from your camera, and they have to be converted to another file format (like JPEG or TIFF) on your computer to use. Shoot RAW files if you aren’t confident in your exposure & white balance and/or you know you will be doing heavy editing—your in-camera settings can actually be readjusted after shooting within the RAW file format (see below). Shooting directly to JPEG will give you more shots on your memory card and will save you time both during shooting and after (by eliminating the need to convert large files for viewing), but you won’t get the same latitude for editing in post-production or the same range of colors for digital display.
Above image courtesy of Steven Larson
If you decide to shoot RAW, you will have to convert your files to use them. But you still must decide if you want to store the RAW files long term or only keep JPEGs or TIFFs. Again, if you are planning on manipulating your images in the future, RAW or TIFF files are best. One of the cool things about TIFF files is that lossless compression allows them to have all the same data as a RAW file but still be smaller (saving you precious storage space). It’s kinda like a math equation: if RAW = 2+2+2+2+2+3, then TIFF = 5(2)+3. Same info, different way of storing it.
But if speed and storage space are your primary concerns, store your final images as high quality JPEGs! We converted files from RAW to both high quality JPEG and TIFF, and typically the TIFFs were six or seven times the size of the JPEGs.
WHAT IF I’M A FILM PHOTOGRAPHER?
JPEGs and TIFFs work a bit differently with film… after all, the information for the images you captured wasn’t stored on a sensor, it was saved in your film negative! There is no such thing as a RAW file when it comes to film scans because, unlike digital cameras, there is no existing software that can take the raw data from a scanner and turn it into a usable RAW file format.
First things first, the Frontier scanner can’t even produce a true TIFF, so don’t bother asking. If you are ordering Frontier scans in TIFF format from a lab, they are being converted from the original scan file to a TIFF (which you can easily do at home). What about the Noritsu scanner? Check out our comparison below of a JPEG and TIFF of the same negatives scanned on the Noritsu; there’s no visual difference! But, the JPEG scans have much more manageable file sizes—a large Noritsu scan in JPEG format is only 12-15 megabytes, while a large Noritsu scan in TIFF format is more than 50 megabytes. If you have 500 shots in one order, that’s a difference of 17,500 megabytes!
If you need to do some light editing on your scans, save a master copy of your image in TIFF format to maintain image quality as you go through the post-production process.
WHAT IF I’M PRINTING MY IMAGES?
TIFFs have a history rooted in desktop publishing and commercial printing. Thing is, while the difference in image quality between a JPEG and a TIFF greatly affects the manipulability of the image, it doesn’t really translate directly to printing. Printing machines can’t reproduce all that extra image data that TIFFs have—our eyes can’t even perceive the full color intensity a TIFF can display! That’s why high quality JPEGs can make prints that are just as good as those from a TIFF.
Plus, JPEGs are one of the most “readable” file formats. They’re compatible with the many different print ordering softwares/apps/websites available nowadays (and all technologies for that matter, from your Instagram posts to your online portfolio), but TIFFs are not.