Sunday, August 23, 2009

Photo Booth

From time to time, my friends ask me to break out the camera and some lights to set up a 'photo booth' for a party. Usually, what this means is that instead of relaxing and enjoying myself at said party, I'm constantly on call to shoot pictures of drunken revellers. If it sounds as though I don't appreciate the role, I should clarify that I usually end up with a bunch of pictures that, if perhaps not portfolio-worthy, at very least serve as a treasured token of an evening I may have otherwise forgotten.

It's funny business, being a photographer. Every once in a while, you will be expected to shoot a picture at a wedding with a disposable camera and transcend the limitations of the equipment to make that snapshot look like something from your book. On the flipside, you will be asked to shoot frivolous party pics and end up with some images that, portfolio aside, you really love.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sick Of Your Life's Work VS. Your Next Shoot Is Your Best Shoot

I just went live with my new website, and boy - let me tell you - there's nary a more humbling effort than deciding which of your 'children' are your favorites. I think for now I'm going to keep the portfolio sections pretty slim in volume. A strange ritual is being born, wherein I keep telling myself that my next shoot will be my best shoot, and serve to fortify my current selections.

My goal now is to to turn that wish into a prophecy.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

VIBE Magazine Rises From The Ashes

When I saw this cover on newsstands as a kid - shot by the late, great Shawn Mortensen - I dreamed of one day shooting for the magazine myself. I loved (and still love) hip hop, and Tupac was one of my favorites. It blew my mind that someone's job could actually be photographing such an amazing artist - in a straight jacket, no less. The resulting image conveys a potent mix of beauty, danger and shock value. 

It goes without saying that (having yet to shoot for them) I was very upset to hear six weeks ago that VIBE was the latest in a long line of great magazines to go under. 

This morning, I was thrilled to read over on the venerable blog APE, that VIBE is to relaunch. The emphasis will be online at first, returning in printed form - as a quarterly - sometime in 2010. Read all about it here.

Maybe I'll get my shot at a VIBE assignment after all....

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

One For The Client, One For Yourself

You're not always going to get the kind of assignment that will immediately go into your book or onto your website. Often, the parameters of a shoot may not really jibe with the style or feel of the rest of your work. This is actually a good thing. It means someone out there has enough faith in your talent to assign you out of your comfort zone. 

My good friend and fellow photographer Van Ditthavong, in his book about photography, wrote this regarding the subject:

"...when the client is paying and they want something done
a particular way, you do it that way and you do it to the
best of your ability. However, before the day is done - 
always shoot one for yourself. It will make you happy."

Truer words have never been spoken. 

One of my favorite clients hired me to shoot a portrait of Ronnie Claire Edwards, head-to-toe, on a white backdrop. Ronnie is an accomplished actor and writer for both the stage and screen. She is best known as Corabeth Walton Godsey from the television show 'The Waltons.'

One for the client:

One for myself:

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Always Take Your Camera With You

I've been offered this particular nugget of wisdom from fellow journeymen (and women) of the photographic trade more than any other tip in the cliché toolbox... Just so happens, it's great advice.

As I was traveling around the past month, I made a concerted effort to adhere to this idea. Not necessarily to capture something for my book, mind you, but for a more elementary purpose: to record the moments, people and situations you happen upon which - sad as it is - you might otherwise forget. 

Here are three portraits I shot along the way that, for one reason or another, stand out for me:

This dapper gent's name is Easter. I shit you not. He's a parking lot attendant in Hollywood (amongst other things, I'm sure) and looks the way I wish I could in my 50's. Seriously.

Crystal lives in San Francisco. She is an incredibly gracious host and made her town one of the most memorable stops of the trip with a mix of roller skating, shooting foam arrows at strangers, site-seeing in The Mission, and good beer. I shot the flower trimmings in LA, but thought that they juxtaposed well with her portrait.

This is Curtis. He's an amazing musician, storyteller, and - well - person, really. This is a shot of him studying while he's on vacation. His mind never rests. That's an admirable trait, to be sure.

I realize that I should take my camera with me everywhere when I'm at home, too, but I rarely do. Perhaps this post is a good reason to start.