Have you ever stopped to admire a photo and wondered how the photographer captured that image so beautifully? Or noticed a photograph and thought to yourself, “This piece of art should be sold in a gallery?” I have — and this week I was given a glimpse into what a photographer sees behind-the-lens during a personal interview with Cherie Brown with Mon Cherie Media. She spent the last month capturing unforgettable memories with Colorado’s cosplayers during the “Level Up” promotion held exclusively at Earth Illuminated.
As many have experienced, Earth Illuminated is known as one of the top 10 places to take photos in Denver, so naturally it draws professional and amateur photographers from across the region to enhance their portfolio in this unique, selfie-style experience. Cherie’s work is no exception to the excellent imagery we’ve seen shared on Instagram. However, Cherie sees her models, background colors and lighting in a very different way that allowed me to have a deeper appreciation for the art of photography.
One look at Cherie’s work will show her talent and expertise, so of course I asked what tips she could share with other photographers that are trying to capture the same Insta-worthy images? She eagerly shared her knowledge:
- Take tons of photos, from many different angles. It’s worth it to take hundreds of photos after every photo shoot, because – maybe your camera was out of focus, the angle you took it from is not right to you, or maybe you captured a very candid or raw moment in the process. More often than not, my favorite shots are ones I looked over the first few times.
- You do not need fancy equipment. Take whatever you have, even if it’s just a phone and start practicing. I have a pretty bare-bones setup myself – no tripod, no lights, just my favorite 50mm lens F1.8 camera.
- Just go shoot! As much as you possibly can! Practice is essential! I have learned an incredible amount from each photoshoot. Some tips I’ve learned during the session, but oftentimes it’s learned in hindsight while going through photos afterward. Keep in mind – quality over quantity.
- Learn lighting and color. These are your fundamental tools! Photographers paint and shape with light and color. The more you learn, the more you realize how critical it is to understand these key fundamentals. The masters spend years learning how lighting and color affect the art of photography more than anything else.
- Don’t be discouraged by the critics. It can be disappointing to share something that you are super proud of only for it to go seemingly unnoticed. Your work is not the problem. The internet is always changing, and not necessarily in our favor. It is of course a useful tool for photographers, but don’t spend all day trying to grow your following unless that was the main goal in the first place. At the end of the day — make art for yourself, not anyone else.
I also asked if these amazing images were left as they were originally captured or if there are any apps or programs she uses to help create her masterpiece?
- The editing app I prefer is called Polarr. When I upgraded from a phone to a tablet for my editing, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that they had a desktop version with even more features and options. It is a free app, but there is also a paid pro version, which I use.
- Another program I use is Affinity Photo. It’s a one-time purchase program that functions very much like Photoshop. If you don’t want to pay for a monthly Adobe subscription, I highly recommend checking it out.
- I’ve also used an app called Afterlight and would eventually like to play with Lightroom. I know several people who enjoy using it, and it is considered an industry standard.
- Don’t be ashamed to use apps to get used to editing before you dive into the beast that is Photoshop or similar programs.
Having personally visited Earth Illuminated many times, I asked Cherie what made taking photos at this immersive experience different from other Denver museums? She told me, “Earth Illuminated was put together so beautifully. I love that you showcased different artists and that each room has its own energy and style – it is so much fun to experience! In the eyes of a photographer, it is an absolute wonderland of eye candy to explore, especially when your options here in Colorado are somewhat limited.”
Cherie captured the most beautiful photos of cosplayers this past month during “Level Up” and we are barely scratching the surface of the beauty she photographed. But that’s not all she is known for. Some of the photos she has taken at Earth Illuminated were recently published. Check out these priceless works of art in Selin Magazine, Issue 4, Volume 19. Her model in the published photos is Rikki Grant.