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…
Every Spring, for the last few years, my friend Molly has tasked me with helping her create a photograph of the kids in her son’s class. We have always tried for a heart shaped grouping… sounds so simple, right? The first couple of years were hysterical because the kids were so little… we tried to line them up head to toe and I was to take a photo from above them. It was absolutely an exercise in herding cats.
The goal is an art piece for an auction to benefit the school and, each year, this class has gotten a little older and a little easier to direct. It seems the timing is always a challenge and we have had to dance around a lot of rainy weather. It wouldn’t be so bad but the kids like to dress up and invariably we get glittery dresses and muddy shoes added to winter jackets… the whole thing starts to look like it might blow out of control. ;0)
This last year, Molly and I had rescheduled for the umpteenth time and we finally got a dry but cold grey day with a brisk breeze. I met her at the school… she chalked out the heart shape on the edge of the playground and then hauled buckets and buckets of flower petals that she had collected up to the chalk line. We had the kids line up on the chalk and then tossed in this riot of color and textures… the breeze enough to keep it exciting. As they were fluffing the flower petals, I climbed the worn stairs to the second floor to a just emptied classroom. The windows were high and hinged outwards so I grabbed a stool and leaned out as far as I could, trying to clear the big concrete sill and the edge of the glass. Luckily, I was working with my Lumix so I could hold the camera out level and still use the tilt screen for framing and focus. All that planning paid off and the flowers scattered in the Spring breeze.