At the end of December I was going through my 30-50 Project subjects with relative ease: I've been staying busy, making some interesting photos, and listening to my subjects tell their stories. My last shoot of the year was the hardest I've ever done. It wasn't hard because of the location, or my gear, or light not working with me... It was hard because of the story. The story was heart-breaking; I don't wish to embarrass them by telling the story, either. It's a grey area because I'm not a photojournalist... I'm editorial... but I think this story needs told... but my conscience just won't let me.
This really could be an instance where the photos should do the talking... All of my subjects for this shoot were trying to deal with things that felt out of their control. They, like many since 2008, have fallen on hard times and are deciding between what they have and what they need on a budget that is failing them and requires constant re-adjustment. I've tried to make some great photos for them so that they could remember this time together instead of hard times... But truthfully I don't know if I succeeded. Their eyes tell the story so much better than I can.
Thanks for paying attention to what I'm working on! I should have the last of the 30-50 Project posted to the blog soon!
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Phillip is the youngest of the bunch so far. In his mid-twenties he has moved back from New York recently. While in New York he's been fighting for Human Rights causes in various places on the African continent. He's planning a quick trip down to Haiti soon to help with the effort there. It's easy to forget that there was a catastrophic earthquake there not long ago! I made sure that I brought one of my Sunpaks and a small umbrella with me on this shoot. Mmmooody...
More updates as they happen! (Which is the dumbest line from the local media I've ever heard...)
More updates as they happen! (Which is the dumbest line from the local media I've ever heard...)
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Brad was next in line: He's a late-40's actor trying to get some work in the Denver area. He's recently divorced and is trying to get used to bachelorhood again. Brad is a natural in front of the camera it was easy to work with him. Brad was looking for something different than he already had in his portfolio so I'm hoping that I was able to do that for him. Natural light worked pretty well for us here, but I really could have used my flash for several nooks and crannies downtown.
Friday, January 13, 2012
Last year, before I went to Seattle to be a part of creativeLIVE, I was really struggling with my work. I didn't like any of the photos I was making. I was struggling to get my technical skills down. I have new clue what my style was... I looked at the photos I was making. I hated my work.
Now, fast forward one year....
Damnit.. I've revolved around this Earth once like everyone else and I don't see any progress. I mean, I know I've progressed, but when I look back to see my footprints I can't see them. It's like I'm walking through quicksand and my steps disappear behind me as my whole body is being sucked underneath. I gotta keep moving forward though... I'm hoping that it'll be like an adventure film where the dude gets sucked into the quicksand only to discover that he's not really dying... he's being deposited into a secret tomb of an ancient civilization. A tomb he never would have discovered had he heeded the ominous words on the "Danger! Quicksand!" sign...
Anyways, I digest...
Don't get me wrong: I know I'm moving forward with this thing... My biggest indicator is that I look at my old work (namely, stuff that Zack saw along with thousands of others during my live critique ::shudder::) and I'm totally embarrassed by it. They feel identical to when I was 15 years-old and my parents were pulling out photo albums of me when I was a kid and showing my girlfriends photos with spaghetti mess on my face. Ya, someone thinks it's cute and there's nothing I can do about it. The photos of me as a kid have merit, and memories, and all sorts of intrinsic value that I can't even begin to realize yet... I'm not far enough removed from them to appreciate where I've been.... Why? Because I can't see where I'm going yet.
But... am I really supposed to see where I'm headed?
I've been trying to formulate a business plan... A real business plan. One that includes words on a page that I wrote of where I'm headed and how I plan to get there. Right now, I can't make the barbaric English language work for me. I have these ideas in my head of all these different avenues to take but not really any given conveyance with which to take them.
I've been loving the headshots of local talent that I've been doing... but I'm not always doing it the way that Zack showed me. They're not vertical. They're not singular. They're horizontal and with context. I haven't gotten a direct hold of a talent agent in town yet, but all the clients tell me is,"my agent said not to shoot anything cliche`." Okay... I'll shoot it how I want to then. They're happy. I'm happy. Now, how do I spread the word that I wrote my own playbook?
I've really enjoyed the boudoir work that I've made this year. It's not really light, or airy, or happy like I've seen others do. It's actually rather dark... contrasty... moody... I love it! I definitely don't want to try to appeal to everyone, but I feel like I might be appealing to no one except myself. Frankly, I'm okay with that... but it does make the task of feeding my family rather difficult.
I did quite a bit of experimental work this year too: Work that was a concept that roared to life as soon as everyone was on the same page. I find it interesting that this work turns black and white so sharply. I may have been enveloped in film noir at the time... That always helps produce some interesting work. In case you haven't seen it, I recommend Cat People.
Flying out to Tennessee and shooting a costume-design book for Leah D'Andrea was probably my favorite job this year. It was an awesome collaboration and it worked out very well. Well enough that we're in talks about doing it again this year (Pick me! Pick me! Pick me!). It was fun because Leah and everyone that modeled for us were completely down to Earth and awesome to work with. I really hope that I continue to make her happy with my work and that we expand to more elaborate projects. I have ideas in my head and I hope that I can shoot them for her.
I've shot a number of families and kids this year as well. Although I enjoy this type of work and getting to know my subjects, I feel like I'm not the style that most families want.... I actually removed my public-facing "Family" gallery from my site and the my family numbers didn't change at all. I thought if I removed the gallery the phone would quit ringing... but it didn't. It's almost as if the families I've been appealing to have simply been friends, referrals, or that they truly like the other work I have done already. I need more people to trust me, but families feel like the last people to get on board.
(no photo to post here. I don't shoot weddings. move along)
I've successfully told 6 people this year (2011) the same thing: No, I don't shoot weddings. Why did I say "No" to money? That's easy: They hadn't really seen my work. (well... that's only mostly true... One bride has been following what I've been doing...) Just because I'm a photographer doesn't mean that shooting weddings is my "Dream Job." Far from it. When I get asked to shoot one and I respond with,"Have you seen what I've been working on lately?" I shouldn't hear crickets on the other end of the line. If I'm going to spend 8 hours on a Saturday pouring my life into art, that Bride needs to appreciate what I'm working on for her. I'm not "documenting a special moment in time" as-they-say... I'm creating works of art in which they're the center of it. They're the Mona Lisa. They're the David. Maybe that sounds presumptuous of me... Maybe. But I'm not a photographer for the money. I'm a photographer to feed my soul that "something" that I haven't found in any 9-5 that I've had.
So, this year I have declined weddings and recommended two other happy-wedding photographers that would probably meet their needs better than I can. They love weddings and they were born to shoot them... I was not born to shoot them, so I'm happy to send them the referral. (Just like this: Kevin is a badass, and Kerinsa is awesome as well.) Would I second shoot for a friend if they asked? Of course I would and probably for free. If they did want to pay me I wouldn't mind. ;-) I like the camaraderie of it all and not feeling the pressure of trying to make art would be kinda nice: Second shooters aren't asked to make art... They're asked to mimic, to duplicate, to schlep bags. No pressure. ;-)
So there's the different paths I've come across this year. Writing them out just now was actually fairly helpful. Maybe I can actually sit down with someone awesome like Sherri Innis and get my shit straightened out. I suppose for having completed only 1 calendar year in business I should be happy with what I've achieved, but I have so far to go. Not to mention that I ramble on and on... I'm dead tired and I need to go lay down...and probably sleep.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Next up was Christopher. He's a late-30's actor that moved to Colorado from California recently. His son wasn't doing too well in his freshman year of high school here, so he picked up and moved out here to help guide him a little more closely with the help of his son's mother. He's a funny guy and I captured many funny and honest expressions from him! Christopher had never really been downtown before so we met up in front of the Wynkoop Brewery. I shot natural light and reflectors for this shoot; I've really been wanting to pack light and carry less with me on shoots.After our walk-around-the-block here I loved the light in December so much that I brought two more subjects here!
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
My next subject was Sharon. She's a 40-something wife and was in need of some headshots. The business that she's in requires some face-to-face marketing and headshots can help gain an important foothold. We struggled to to find a warm day where our schedules lined up so we shot in my living room / home studio. Near the end of the shoot we stepped outside just as the sun was disappearing behind the Rockies. Perfect time for some natural light blended with a hotshoe!
Stay tuned for more 30-50 Project updates!