Minneapolis Photographer Captures Life's Moments
When Jim Fuglestad got his first digital camera in 1999, he had no idea that he would discover a passion for photography that would change his life. With a background in business and technology, Fuglestad said he never thought of himself as an artist and had a hard time calling himself a photographer.
Fuglestad, of Minneapolis, MN, comes from a family "notorious for picture taking" and decided to buy his first digital camera after he realized he was spending about $100 a month on film and developing.
"It was just a little 1-megapixel camera. In the fall of 1999 and the beginning of 2000, I'd always have that camera with me, in case the kids did anything cute," he said. "I just took all kinds of pictures, sunsets, leaves changing, whatever caught my eye. Friends and relatives that saw my photos liked them a lot and were very encouraging, which inspired me to keep shooting.”
When Fuglestad was laid off from his job in January 2002, he decided to take three months to explore photography.
"I discovered that I loved it," he said. "I loved it all – talking about it, shooting, editing – everything."
After making this discovery, Fuglestad started taking more and more pictures.
"I would go out everyday with my camera," he said. "Sometimes I'd have to force myself to go out and then I'd find a beautiful photo and think to myself, 'I can't believe I almost didn't go out today.'"
This passion has led Fuglestad to creating his own business, Fuglestad Photography. Through this business, Fuglestad not only continues to explore his own photography, but he gets to share his unique perspective on photography with others.
"I don't take a photo to just remember the moment, I take it so I can remember all the sunsets I've ever seen," he said. "It's like candid portraiture. When I take a photo, obviously people want to remember it. But they're not remembering the actual minute the photo was taken, the photo shoot – that's artificial. I want the photo to reflect that child's childhood – that moment in time."
Sometimes, Fuglestad said he needs a little help getting the moment just right.
"I can never capture exactly what I want with a camera," Fuglestad said. "The photo is never going to be as good as when you see it through your own eyes." Because of this, Fuglestad has turned to Paint Shop Pro to help him edit his photos.
"I didn't really have to find Paint Shop Pro," he said. "I worked in medical software development where I did documentation; I used Paint Shop Pro for that. When I got into digital photography, I didn't even think of using anything else."
"When I first started, I didn't know how much I could do with Paint Shop Pro," Fuglestad said. "On the Internet forums, people were always talking about photo editing. So I started experimenting. Now, every single photo I take goes through Paint Shop Pro. Everything I do for my photos, I do in Paint Shop Pro. Some photographers think they need a $600 photo editor, but they don’t."
Choosing a favorite from all of Paint Shop Pro’s photo editing tools wasn’t easy for Fuglestad. Though the blend modes are his favorite and have the most impact on his style, he said he couldn’t lie without levels adjustment.
"I underexpose my photos intentionally to bring out better color—so adjusting the levels is the first thing I do with every photo," he said.
Through experimentation and happy accidents, Fuglestad has learned what's best for his photos.
"When I first discovered blend modes, I tried every single one to see what it did," he said. "Somehow I ended up on the manual Hue/Saturation/Lightness adjustment. I discovered that it gave me more control over my color corrections than the automatic tool. Feathering was another happy accident. I used to use the selection tools with a pretty severe feathering and I'd have to meticulously outline each hair. It was frustrating. Once, the feather was set to 70 and I didn't notice. It was the greatest thing in the world!"
Now, after taking over 100,000 pictures and winning many awards, it's clear that Fuglestad has figured out what works best for his photos. And with so many photos in his portfolio, choosing a single favorite is just too hard, he said.
"I love the photo of the three kids on a swing," Fuglestad said. "It was truly a candid opportunity. The shoot was already over and we were just standing around talking when I looked over and they were on the swing – just doing what kids do. That photo ended up being the one I spent the most time on. Probably 60 to 90 minutes. I took the photo so quickly; I didn't have time to be concerned with the camera's settings.
Another favorite photo is of a little girl running in the leaves.
"Not only is it a technically good photo, with good depth of field and what not, it just captures everything about what kids should be."
He also mentioned "Snowbike" as one of his favorites.
"Some of my favorites are the earliest ones," he said. "Not because they are better, but because I'm a little tied to them… because they’ve impact on my career."