First he says he doesn’t shoot in colour, then goes on to make a shit pile of posts featuring only colour images…. Then he says he hates to use a flash, and less than a week later he’s on Amazon ordering not one, but TWO flashes… Then he says he’d never want to do this as a business, and here he is doing just that…
What the fuck, Joe?!?
Well, things are happening fast here. In ways I didn’t see coming. In the middle of a pandemic.
Suddenly I’ve found myself with a shit-ton of work offers. I’ve been running around getting stuff together for this ongoing art project I’m in the midst of; I’ve got a portrait shoot on Saturday afternoon; I’ve got a wedding to shoot in a couple of weeks, and a bunch of other things in the pipe as well.
Oh, and now I’ve got my own studio.
Honestly, I didn’t even try to do any of this shit. It all just sort of fell into my lap.
Naturally, once I decide to invest a little money into my side job, it’ll all dry up, but I’m pretty sure I can get set up with a minimum of extra expense. I’ve already got the expensive stuff.
I keep hearing that quote that Harry Dean Stanton’s character, Bud, used in the movie ‘Repo Man.’ Something like, “I’m gonna get me a tow truck, a couple of Pit Bulls, and a baseball bat, and start my own repo business…”
“I’m gonna get me a backdrop, a couple of flashes and umbrellas, and start my own photography business…”
…pretty sure Harry Dean Stanton’s character, Bud, dies at the end of ‘Repo Man’ …
I started a new post the other day about why I rarely used flash when taking pictures, then, wouldn’t you know it, I found myself in a position where I absolutely had to use flash.
I’ve been requisitioned? Commissioned? to do a series of head shots/portraits. They’ve all got to be lit exactly the same way, and everything lined up just so, so that the subject’s head fills the frame in the same way.
Normally, this wouldn’t be too big of a deal, but when you have to be spot on every time, -almost as uniform as a cookie cutter, and there is a deadline, well, you can’t be fucking around.
Then, there’s the problem that we all have different sized heads. Different lengths and styles of hair. Pulling back to include curly hair will make the person’s head appear smaller in the frame. And the light won’t be hitting them with the same intensity, or from the same angle…
I don’t like flash. There. I said it. It’s big, it’s intrusive, it’s a pain in the ass for those who are getting blasted with it, it creates horrible reflections on naturally oily skin (like mine) and flattens out contour, removing all natural depth.
But there’s no other way, I gotta do it. (Actually, there is another way, but because it would be so labour intensive, and time consuming, it would be horribly impractical.)
So I dusted off my flashes the other day, and spent the good portion of an afternoon taking bad self portraits. The trick with flash is, is to not make it seem like you’re using flash. And that means getting it off camera, and using more than one, if you can. And in my case, having a backdrop set up so that it’s completely uniform from shot to shot.
The difference between casual portraiture, and controlled, or studio photography, is that the subject is coming to you instead of you being out and about taking pictures and stumbling into a situation. It’s huge.
So, I’m good to go. Pretty sure that I’ve done the groundwork so things should go smoothly.
In the mean time, here’s a picture of a chair. In a field. In the snow. It’s old and worn out, but the image of it managed to survive all of my Great Photographic Imaging Purges over the years so I’ll give it that. Taken in about 1990, or so. I still like it. I still don’t know why.
Sooner or later, that nagging little question in the back of your head rises out of the goo, and bullies it’s way into the forefront of your consciousness: “What’s going to happen to all this shit when I’m gone? How long are my pictures going to last?”
The short answer: Probably not very long.
We’d like to think that in the future, some of our images will be cherished, rediscovered, or otherwise popularized after we kick the can, when the rest of the soul-less, unappreciative, idiots that populate the planet finally realize what perceptive, and talented geniuses we really are… Smugly, we’ll be mocking them from our heavenly perch, when they realize they don’t have us to kick around anymore, nor are able to ask us questions about how we did it, or what the secret to our brilliance was!
Ha! NOW WHO’S LAUGHING!!!
The reality of it is, is that as a photographer, you become a collector -perhaps borderline hoarder. And lets face it, most of what we are saving means very little, if anything at all to anyone else. When you consider that some of the most popular photographers who have ever lived are usually only known for at best, a handful of images, where does that leave all of us millions of schnooks?
When we create, or build something, for many of us, there’s a notion, whether we’re aware of it or not, of leaving something behind; a legacy, if you will, that hopefully will last much longer than we will. It’s primal. Innate. A child, a pyramid, a painting. Something that will outlast us. Something that says, “I was here.”
But let’s face it, the chances for just about all of us is pretty much nil. Having a camera, and sharing your images online may slightly increase the odds, but hardly in any significant manner.
(Above: Image of yours truly getting a guitar lesson from my mother. I’d say about 1969/’70- ish?)
I don’t mean to come across as a defeatist, or a nihilist, (jokes on you! I do!) and just because we can’t control what happens to the detritus of our existence once we’ve cashed in our chips, doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t enjoy what we’re doing, and what we have here and now. In fact, shouldn’t that very idea make us enjoy and appreciate what we’re doing?
Awww….. Now go hug your kids. …..and then wash the dishes.