Wednesday
Apr132016

Meat... meat... meat...

On assignment: Covering a "Bovinoche" meat-fest near Ridgeway, S.C. 

Shot these back in November of last year. I was mainly there to shoot a portrait of the organizer, but since I had hours to stand around, I figured I'd make a photo essay out of it.


Friday
Feb262016

Street fashion

I was downtown this afternoon working with some dancers, and these two just looked great together in their regular clothes. Just posting it because I like the shot, the boots, and the attitude.

Tuesday
Feb232016

Photo essay: The God Squad

I finally got around to finishing something I started nearly three years ago: "The God Squad" photo essay.

And while I'm certain the final selection of images could still benefit from a tighter edit, I feel pretty good about the images I chose to include. 

Back in the spring of 2013 I somehow learned of this particular motorcycle church here in Columbia. A few e-mails later and I'd made contact with the leader, who welcomed me out to document some of their activities. Every time I visited with the group, I returned with what I thought was pretty good material. 

At some point, I felt like I wasn't approaching the material with a fresh eye. My images started looking the same week to week. The sturm und drang of life eventually got in the way. When I sold my own motorcycle to fund other endeavors, that essentially severed my connection to bike culture. Suddenly it didn't fascinate me anymore. I'd posted a few individual images from the series here years back, but for all intents and purposes, I was done with the biker church project, finished or not.

I think I made at least two efforts to sit down and work through the 1,500 images I had. An initial round of editing culled the selection down to more than 100 images that I liked. And that's where the project sat for another year. I knew I had perhaps 10-15 images that I wanted to include simply because I liked them and felt like they were strong compositions that helped tell the story. Sorting through the rest of the images to fill in the gaps of the narrative was the hard part. I had many that I loved, but knew that I would have to "kill some darlings" for the sake of brevity, to avoid repetition, and to tighten the core story.

Feedback I've received on the project has been interesting. The first person who saw it told me it was "fantastic" and to "find more people to shoot like this." Another viewer told me I had some shots that "really captured the essence" of my subjects. Positive feedback is all well and good, but there have been some naysayers, with at least two close friends and my own wife admitting they found the whole thing rather "meh" and liked my "other work" better.

I know the subject matter is off-putting to some. To be clear, my own personal ideologies and beliefs have nothing to do with the content of the essay. I'm pretty far from being one who dons a motorcycle cut emblazened with Jesus patches, and I'm not a born-again Baptist. As frustrating as it was to hear, I understood where a friend of mine was coming from when he told me he found images of "hairy bikers" hard to look at compared to grab-shots of scantily-clad cosplayers at Dragon*Con.

So it is what it is at this point, and I'll leave it at that. 

 

Monday
Feb222016

Photography from a place of fear

Helen, Columbia, S.C., Feb. 2016

In my last post, I mentioned that I didn't write much about the craft of photography, and yet here I am a week or so later, doing just that.

When I built this website back in 2009 or so, I decided I would use a single large image on the homepage to represent what I felt best signified my personal photographic style. That image has not changed since then -- until yesterday, when I decided that I'd moved on from that era of my photographic journey. I replaced the image of "Tracker Troy" and his wild boar with the above image of Helen, someone who I recently, and somewhat reluctantly, collaborated with.

I've sort of reached this bizarre place in my work where I'm not moving forward anymore. Maybe it's age, laziness, a lack of inspiration, over-saturation of images owing to the Internet and my never-ending stream of photography RSS feeds. I've told myself so many times in recent years that I was done with photography. I actually enjoyed teaching more than shooting and I've had the fortune of working with several really talented students. I started taking some jobs that were "just for the money" and I wasn't happy with that work, but at least it paid some bills. I realized I'd started taking photos like a common tourist, and I was OK with that. 

On one of those recent "money" jobs, I was shooting photos on Halloween day for a local comic book shop. The resulting images were pretty awful (sorry Jeff and Dan). I was phoning it in and I really didn't care if they were in focus or not. That night I edited what I had and sent them on to the clients, who posted them up some days later on Facebook. Shortly afterwards I received an e-mail from Helen, who worked part-time at the comic shop and she told me the images were good. Somehow she found my website and decided she wanted to work with me on a series of images.

I was excited by the prospect of doing some portraits in a different style. But here's where that fear comes into the mix. What if the shoot was a total bust? What if I couldn't conjure up any ideas? What if the images just didn't fit my style? What if they ended up looking like some cheeseball cosplay? What if they came out looking like some craigslist nightmare?

I reluctantly agreed to a meeting to discuss some ideas, and some two months later, the cold weather lifted just enough to attempt some images. Just before we met, I received an e-mail from Helen in which she mentioned she was "scared" by the prospect of the shoot since she'd never worked with a photographer before. I assured her I was scared also, so we'd just stick to some easy shots and see what happened.  

I've posted a few results of that shoot here. I couldn't be happier with the results, as the photos, once toned, resemble the exact images that flickered in my mind's eye. Hopefully this experience has kicked me out of the rut I'd been stuck in for the past few years!

A little fear is probably a good thing, as it keeps you on your toes. But the trick is to find the right balance of it. I'm reminded of something like a roller coaster. Perhaps you have a fear of heights, but the rush of adrenaline at the end is worth the initial trepidation.

Monday
Nov302015

Sites of interest to Freemasons in Washington, DC

Well it's been a long time since I've made and posts here, but I've been shooting erratically and hope to make some new posts here over the next few days.

I shall start with some recent touristy shots from my trip to Washington, DC, last week. I went up for Thanksgiving, but started my journey several days earlier just so I could tour the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite, aka, the House of the Temple. As luck would have it, the building was closing early on the day I visited (Wednesday), and didn't re-open until the following Monday. Even though I arrived an hour before closing, I was not allowed admittance. I had to settle for some architectural shots.

Since the House of the Temple was a bust, I decided to grab the Metro and visit the George Washington National Masonic Memorial in Alexandria, which I'd planned to visit later in the week.