Bus and Ida May are good family friends of ours, and they live on a farm near Seattle. Their farm used to be even larger than it is now, but there is now a major highway, several off ramps, businesses and condos where the cows used to graze. Every summer for the past several years, my wife Nichelle and I have enjoyed homemade desserts with them on their back porch made from ingredients picked just several yards away. After spending time with them one evening, I felt compelled to photograph them. To make things as comfortable as possible, I set up in their back yard, while friends and family came over for dinner. A good amount of my studio work is actually done on location like this. Not necessarily on a farm, but in a place that my subject feels most comfortable. In this case, it was a farm. Not to mention, I would choose to work outside on a warm summer evening instead of in a studio any time given the choice.
I have a photography show opening in a few weeks, and the headshots of Bus and Ida May will be two of the 12 or so images on display. I will have more information about the show shortly, and after I wrap up a few large projects, I will be able to get back to a more regular blog schedule. Thanks for taking a look, and I hope you are enjoying what is left of summer.
* If you are using a blog reader, you may need to visit my actual blog to see the slide show above.
I got a call last October from my friend, Tyler, asking me if I would photograph a Christmas party for street youth in Seattle’s U-District. It’s an annual party, and they usually have a volunteer take candid snapshots that they can give to the youth who attend. After talking for a little while, we both decided that it would be fun to set up a studio in a corner where anyone who was interested could get their portrait taken.
After I finished setting up, Tyler made an announcement about the studio letting people know that it was available. Everyone in the room turned to look at me. I smiled and waved, and then everyone turned back around and continued talking and opening presents. I waited for about 10 minutes, and still nobody came over. There were a lot of glances toward the studio, but that was it. I started walking around the room, and asking if people wanted to have their picture taken.
“No way man. I don’t want my picture taken.”
I knew it would just take one person to get things rolling, and moments later, that person arrived. Actually, he was a rabbit… Although I was excited about photographing a giant rabbit, I could tell that Santa was feeling uneasy and territorial. He took his white gloves off, one finger at a time, and threw them on the ground. “This is my holiday, Rabbit!” He screamed across the room.
That’s a story for another day, though.
I was able to convince the rabbit to let me photograph him, and shortly after, people began lining up to join in. I took quite a bit of time with the lighting setup for this, and set the lights in a way that would allow for some movement and flexibility with each subject. I made an x on the ground, and asked each person to stand there. But beyond that, I didn’t control their movements. I wanted to let each person be themselves, and capture their personalities. I know that I am not the first person to photograph street youth. But often I feel that a subject like this is an easy way to create a dramatic story without any creativity. Street youth encounter struggles that many of us will never experience, some of them dress a little different, but that alone doesn’t make a great picture. What I loved about how these pictures turned out, was the laughter and humor that came through. I don’t think the pictures would have the same feel if I had taken as much control as I would have with a different subject. I might have asked Santa to look serious, though…Couldn’t resist that one!
What do you think about the slide show? Comments please. I have been posting pictures individually, but it seemed like there were too many for that this time. I’d love to hear what you think.
Happy Holidays! Inspired by this years hottest new Christmas sweaters, I decided to put together a holiday photo shoot. Hopefully these pictures put you in the spirit. And what says Christmas like a pygmy goat. Right? Special thanks to Jessica, Brian, and Little Wonder, the stuffed Christmas pygmy goat. I used these pictures in an e-promo that was sent out to ad agencies and magazines today.
All I did was suggest that we take the little goat out for a few pictures, but I guess that was the wrong thing to say!