Most everyone of a certain age has accumulated a set of sliding doors. If I’m not mistaken, every photograph you share is a door into another you.
Originally a wedding client, Jim has hired me a few times over the years. We’ve done family pictures when his kids were little, and there were business headshots, but my favorite session was a lifestyle shoot. He was on the edge of many new chapters in his life and happy. He was in tip-top shape and moving forward into a new relationship. His reasoning for having new portraits was sound. He wanted to catch some of the good years. I wish more people would consider it.
Every day, I hear people wishing they’d had really good pictures from certain times in their lives. We all know you can’t go back. Say you have a great five year stretch where life is just humming along and you feel really right in your world… maybe that’s a good reason to have a portrait done. It’s a keepsake for you, certainly, but it’s also a trophy for a future time… something to share with your kids in your somewhat older years… a truth.
Jim and I talked about what he wanted to do… with a little planning it turned into about a four hour stroll around Portland. We started at the rock gym in John’s Landing and, after a change of clothes, we walked the East Bank Esplanade for portraits… some for business and some for pleasure. The balance of the afternoon was wandering in the Pearl District settling briefly here and there where structure and light came together. All this in the name of serendipity and the luxury of time… this was not a rushed or over orchestrated shoot and that’s the best kind.
A friend of mine posted that he was considering changing his look. The post triggered a visual in my head and I messaged him to see if he’d sit for me before he cut off his ponytail. His gracious yes let me play in a way that is rarely an option. I asked him if he had a good overcoat, a nice suit, maybe a hat… he said he had the right coat, a tux but no hat. Then he asked about having a cigar as part of the conversation. My visual adjusted favorably and off we went. After some discussion about where, we settled on the Little White Shed at the Cornelius Roadhouse. I brought my black fedora hoping it would fit. He strolled up the walkway in that cold silver light and we made our way to the shed. I had called for permission and we were grateful that the bartender had the wood stove rolling already. We had a great hour of quiet collaboration.
Scott Sakamoto runs a blog called Puff Sumo for cigar aficionados. It’s a passion he has rekindled from years back and now he takes it to a much different level.
People as Landscape
On a related tangent, I just submitted his photo to a portrait competition. Then I added a few more of the personal portraits I like. The underlying link is that none of these was work for hire… all of them were done in play. A lot of the work I do for hire feels quite narrow in comparison. The clients tend to have a defined end product in mind and that tamps down the play.
After a session last week another friendsaid “I’m curious to see how you see me.” That speaks to the dance between a person and a photographer. Every one of us has a face we assume when the camera is present. It’s just theway it is. The work of the photographer is to cut through a little of that drama to a truer version… to keep it real with as much grace as possible.
I’m a people-watcher from way back. Faces will always fascinate me…
Two lovers kiss and run away into the sun.. shielded by the blueberries, they turn, laughing, to watch the crowd that came to see them wed. After a few minutes, some kind soul brings them glasses of wine and they take their time drinking in the fact that they had actually gotten married.
I watch it at every wedding… the point where reality settles in and two people look at each other with a new light in their faces. It doesn’t hurt to take yourselves out of the crowd for a few minutes alone. Do it for the wonder of each other, don’t do it to discuss wedding details. Do it so you can go back to your crowd as a shiny new couple and really enjoy the rest of the day.
It is a pure privilege to be in a front row seat when these emotions run so close and high… I love my job!
For me, road test is my description for taking a new camera or lens out into the world to see how it performs. It is the second step if you count the first step being the one where I shoot around my house in an utterly familiar environment. In the road test I try for something brand new… something I can’t predict too well.
The new camera is a Lumix GH4 by Panasonic… a snappy little camera with a lot of muscle under the hood. So far, I am very, very pleased. Yesterday found me at Fort Vancouver for the first time. I have been on Officer’s Row a gazillion times but never had a chance to go into the fort. This image was taken in the blacksmith’s shop in natural light and I couldn’t be more pleased. The only caveat here is that Adobe doesn’t support RAW files for this camera yet… the workaround for now is to shoot RAW + large JPGs and save the RAW files for later. That means that as nice as this version looks, I can’t wait to get my hands on the RAW file and see how it flies!
My unending thanks to Mark Toal, the Panasonic rep who has given me so much of his time and information… I have been looking for something small and fresh for a few years and he suggested I look at this line.
Ultimately, this little camera is going to take me places I want to explore… sure, I could pack my Nikon bag but sometimes it seems like too much to carry… like it’s too much work. Since play is what I’m after, I may extend the road test for awhile. ;0)
Meghan and Ryan had a spectacular day at Bridal Veil Lakes. It was one of those soft July days… not too hot… the light beautifully bright under the trees. She crafted her retro bouquet and his boutonnière from tiny beads wrapped into flowers… they passed as real enough to make you look twice.
They met on the path around the lake and my favorite part of this image is her earring swinging high as she turns.
Come get married in Oregon… we have a wealth of beautiful places!
In my post last week, I was talking about taking the time to do some good portraits. Well, in this one, Erin and Rob had to stay still for the 12 second exposure… they did pretty well. I used a Pinhole camera, a beautiful wooden box with a tiny hole in it so only a pinhole’s worth of light gets to the film. That makes it a slow process but a special one. From there, I have to scan the negative to make it compatible with the rest of the wedding images.
My summer clients get the chance to try the non-digital approach for some of their portraits… I can’t always use them so I don’t make any hard and fast promises but when the conditions of light and time are met, we can make images from another time and that can be a wonderful thing.
Whenever possible, I go out to a venue about a week before the wedding date to check out the light. Granted, our lovely Oregon weather can be a real game changer but soft cloudy days are fine… it’s the really hard bright days that you need to be ready for.
Large and rowdy group shots at 2:00 on a sunny afternoon? You bet… let’s go over where we can get the best light. Jac and Drew came with me to approve this location… the original plan would have been pretty awful. ;0)
Work with your professional photographer… good things will happen!
April and Tim got married a very long time ago… it was the end of August in 1993. Long enough ago that Oregon vineyards were just getting to be popular. I love that this is a fairly timeless photograph… yes, her dress has sleeves but it is absolutely gorgeous and would certainly work today. Tim looks as smitten as anyone could hope for… she is stunning in the late light.
This warm afternoon wedding was a completely homespun affair… all of it played out in their yard and nearby neighborhood. Vibrant Table took care of the set up and catering… fabulous food and flowers, as always, but the scope was very comfortable and personal. There was no pretense here… the afternoon played into the soft late light with real people and sweet exchanges… I love these days. As a photographer, I can count on good images when everyone is relaxed and the time sort of spins by without too much of a written schedule. ;0)
This park, this ball field is right down the street from their great old house. I think they will live there a long time and they will remember the brass band playing Beatles’ tunes in their front yard as they walked out from under the tree where they said their vows.
Years will go by… someone will chance on this picture and there will be a recognition and a sweet smile.
November has been quite dark… made darker for me by the face-in-computer-time, I’m sure. More than half of my brides this year were after August and before November. That makes for a lot of work all at once. Sometimes all of that work backs up in my brain and wakes me at 4:00 AM… I worry it like a manic terrier of some sort and then whoever is in charge up there wanders off to look at other things. Last night, my brain took me back to California… Laguna Seca in 2007 to be more specific. It wanted to look at this old taxi cab again… the old De Soto reminds me of so many crayons in the sunlight.