It’s safe to say 2011 has been the most frenetic year I’ve experienced since becoming independent. It was also the first time in two years I had the enough time to travel for leisure. I got to travel through 19 different states, visiting many friends and family whom I don’t get to see often enough. These are some of my favorite photographic memories from the past year. As always, sincerely thank you for your continued support through the years and here’s to the new year!
I received an e-mail from a local camera club stating that the local Big Brothers Big Sisters needed 2-4 photogs in short notice for an event last weekend. BBBS is near and dear to my heart and I enjoyed performing volunteer work with them before I became super sick. So I responded back to the head of the camera club from my phone:
From: Sterling E. Stevens
To: Camera Club President
Sent: Friday, February 26, 2010 1:43 PM
I can shoot at bbbs if you don’t have enough photogs. I’ve never done events but if this is their bowling for kids sake I’d help out.
You see not only don’t I do people, I’m ill equipped to handle them. Not like, personally – I socialize quite fine, thank you. I know preciously little about photographing people, the dynamic is so different from the still objects I’m accustomed to. Further, all of my lenses, with the exception of my 50mm prime, are narrow aperture or wide angle lenses that I use to handle architectural photography, requiring longer exposures.
This is not a very well-kept secret from anyone.
From: Camera Club President
To: Sterling E. Stevens
Sent: Friday, February 26, 2010 4:17 PM
Subject: Re: Bbbs
Sterling, thank you for offering. We have just one volunteer who knows what he’s doing so YES,, PLEASE do the shoot. For heaven’s sake, the event is TOMORROW and we’re so desperate we’ll even use you and your meager skills. Since you’re already in over your head, use a flash USE A FLASH MAN and what they want is candids (jpg) on a CD. Make ‘delivery’ arrangements with them and hopefully they won’t laugh when they see the pics you developed. You don’t have to stay there all day,, just drop in and maybe do an hour (or more) of shooting to capture the kids having fun, getting their reactions to pins knocked down etc.
(Note: I may have embellished the reply e-mail a little bit…)
So I met up with fellow photographer Lee Dawson at the bowling alley. I stayed all five hours, which flew by pretty quickly. I learned a LOT about lighting, especially in a bowling alley that’s so completely…yellow. Let me describe the space. Of course, since it’s indoors it’s a low-light situation. When you enter the bowling alley, the main corridor is dark. There’s no fluorescent lighting until the staging area between seating area and bowling lanes. The lanes were filled with diffuse light. The BBBS t-shirts? Blazing white, which made me think twice about using a flash. In case you forgot, the end of the lanes were YELLOW. Now, anyone reading this who has done live event or portrait photography and perfectly understands the effects of color, fluorescent lighting, and reflection are likely laughing at me right now as I had no clue what I was doing.
I set my new Canon 5D Mark II (woohoo!) at 800 ISO, and only used my 50mm, keeping the aperture between F2.2 and F3.2. My other body and lenses were useless. I did the best I could, focusing mostly on individuals rather than overall scenes. I let Lee with the big ‘ol honking lens handle overall scenes and shooting photos from a distance.
As you can tell, the children were heavily invested in the fate of the bowling ball on the other end of the lane.
At first, the boy below was hamming it up for the camera, but the girl was shy. By the time I snuck a reticent smile out of her, the boy had to be thinking…”Uh…we done yet? I’m already bored.”
There was this ONE boy who was a total trip. Everything was exciting. Releasing the bowling ball, watching it go down the lane. When the ball hit the pins, he exploded, like, “YAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! BOOOOOOM!”
And finally, this is Lee Dawson, who, as you can tell – was much better suited to doing this than I. Looking forward to seeing his pictures!
Woo! After at least a year of back-and-forths, finally got to photograph Kristin in Winston-Salem last weekend. It’s my first attempt at shooting a person since last May. I don’t do these often but am warming up to the idea thanks to people like Kristin; she’s instantly likable and radiates with a purely positive personality. Very fun session and as you can gather, filled with laughs.
As time goes on, I’ll certainly do more of these and have become increasingly receptive to the idea of regularly shooting on-location portraiture and potentially even weddings. Yeah, I know – it’s something I swore up and down I’d never do – though that would explain all of the cold weather and snow we’ve been having…
Did a 90 minute round with Lamont aka I.S.H. this past weekend – can’t believe it’s been two years since our last shoot. We met downtown and gave each other a pound as he gets out of his truck. When I observed he’s become as chiseled over the past couple years as much as I’ve put on weight, he laughed and said, “Yeah, but we both happy.”
He needed some body shots for his port, so we did some shirtless ones. It’s going to take me some time to get this posing thing down, but I’m slowly getting there. The shoot was hit and miss as I had trouble adjusting to quickly varying light conditions, but was better for it as I learned an awful lot from the experience. Below are a few shots with Lamont. Not sure when my next person shoot will be…likely not until late this year.
There is only subject matter that I face with more trepidation than shooting people.
…And that is flowers – I mean, really – I couldn’t possibly make them interesting with a gun to my head. So…I’m not natural at photographing people and this being the first attempt at shooting a person in almost a year I was very nervous. Fortunately I was photographing Amy, who is someone I’m familiar with, really like, and is an absolute sweetheart; it was the third time we’ve worked together, the last time I saw her was a couple of years ago. Thanks to Amy for enduring the cold rainy day and my inexperience! Shout outs to her husband, Dave for keeping Amy warm, showing me some cool places, not to mention cracking us up with his antics. It was a lot of fun!
I’m quite certain I’ll never make a living out of shooting people as subjects, but doing so challenges me in doing things I don’t have a natural knack for in my continued development as a wannabe photographer.
I’m slammed. Way slammed. Work, exams, photography, even planning to just get a break…but apparently not slammed enough to take a few minutes to write this note. So…I have this relatively large client. It’s been pretty much my baby from day one, and I’ve been preparing two public presentations, the first of which I just had this evening in front of city council.
So last week I’m going back and forth with my client in regards to our Powerpoint presentation for that meeting. I finished with my part of the powerpoint and burned a CD to hand-deliver to my client to complete because the FTP systems a bit convuluted. It’s on my way to work anyways, so it’ll save time all the way around, right? I carefully placed the burned CD in a plastic case and tossed it in my attache case.
The next morning I leave a bit early and arrive at my client’s office as it’s opening. I dig the CD case in my attache case and deliver the CD to the administrative assistant. My client isn’t in the office yet.
Twenty minutes later, I’m in my office. I unshoulder my attache case, look down on my desk, and there is my carefully labeled CD with the powerpoint presentation staring right back at me.
It’s probably the first time in my life I actually turned pale.
In the span of about three seconds, several million thoughts passed through my head, none of them good. Clearly, I didn’t give my cilent the powerpoint presentation or toss it in my attache case. In the three-second barage of ‘inside-voice’ expletives, I realized that instead of handing my client the CD with the powerpoint presentation, I instead gave him 30 photographs of one of my model shoots. I was intending to send -that- CD via the postal service, but now it was in the hand of one of the biggest clients in our architecture firm. My nostrils could sense the faint scent of my fledgling career going up in flames. And for anyone in the market for a Toyota Corolla, I’d advise to you that it can do mid-90s on the interstate with great ease – barely any engine noise.
The client never saw it and the administrative assistant had a very good chuckle, though she maintains she didn’t see the contents of the CD. In any event, I was honest about what was on it. Good thing I have a very good reputation and rarely do anything risque or in total poor taste. Some of my co-workers had a great chuckle over that one.
But there’s an important lesson here. Don’t ever think you have time to double-check or slow down for a second. Just in case. Otherwise you’ll be flying down I-540, perfectly willing to risk a televised multi-vehicle police chase.