A few years ago, my sons drum instructor, Kit Mills, came to me and inquired about having some portrait work done for his website and business applications. I had just entered the world of lighting and didn’t have any experience with that sort of thing. Because I am a “can do” type person, I agreed to give it a try. It was one of the most nerve-wracking yet exhilarating assignments I have taken on.
We met in our local town and ended up at our train station. I’m sure it was a little odd to see someone setting up a drumset on the train platform and a couple of trains even came zipping through while we were setting up. It was a wild few moments hanging on to the equipment so that it didn’t get blown away by the draft created from the rail cars.
After the train station we found an indoor location and did some indoor portraits. Because I was new to flash photography, I only had a speedlight, light stand, and umbrella. I raised the speedlight up high overhead and aimed it down, hoping to light Kit and all his drums. The results amazed me. While they were not technically perfect by any means, I learned a lot and we ended up with some very cool shots.
Last summer, I had another opportunity to take some group photos and head shots of some of the agents for a local insurance agency, Leslie Tripp State Farm Insurance Agency. Again, there was a lot of new territory with this being the first time I worked at getting head shots for business applications. We set up shop at a local school, using their brick wall as a backdrop. It was a mixed bag of results, and, once again, I learned much by taking this on. All of the photos were usable but that does not equate someone being satisfied with the end results. I learned that while a photo may be technically sound, that does not mean that someone will be pleased with the poses I might choose for them or the angle I choose to photograph them from. We did end up with some fun group shots in a beautiful red car that worked perfectly for their company Facebook page.
More recently, I had the wonderful pleasure of photographing a young woman, Leanna Crawford, who recently went to Nashville to record 4 original songs which she has written. She has a new Amazon.com album for sale and also has entered a local contest (link to one of her songs) to be the opening act for a Jars of Clay concert in August. She is part of the final 3 people being voted on this week to win the contest.
I had been given her rough mixes of the 4 songs so that I could listen to them and try and get a vision for photos that would work with the songs. We had several ideas and, in the end, only had time to work on a few of them. The end results were some photos taken in their horse pasture and in the old part of our local city. Taking the base photos and working on making composites from them created some great final results. I was able to apply what I’d learned about lighting, photoshop, and telling a story through photos to achieve results that will hopefully provide her with some publicity photos as she launches her music career.
There are times when I realize that I’m in way over my head, when I wonder how I’ll ever be able to pull off an assignment. It may overwhelm me momentarily, I may panic inside and lose any creative thought I’d had prior to showing up on location and I will probably feel that momentary panic again when I first view the photos during post processing. In the end, however, I am always glad I chose to step out, to take on things that are over my head, to take the risk of failure with the hopes that I’ll actually be able to give my clients what it is they’re hoping for.