The Projects

Well here you are - in the Projects. Feel free to roam around.

Isaiah Loves Jordan – Test shoot with Sony and Panasonic

I’ve known Jordan for 10 years now, and she has probably now become the single-most photographed person in my photography collection – mostly because she has been the most willing to be photographed at a moment’s notice, and for no particular reason. She promised me this would not change so much now that she’s about to get married in the next few months. To prove her willingness to still be available, she even got her fiancé to sit in on this shoot. I told them we can shoot some engagement photos …  yeah, yeah engagement photos. My real motive was testing two point-n-shoot cameras that I rented for a week: Panasonic LX 100 and the Sony RX 100 Mark III. Thanks guys!...

The Storyboard and Conversational Portrait Session with Kristen and Stephen

  A well captured or well crafted image works like a well chosen word: sometimes it’s all that’s needed to make a strong point. Then there are times when a series of images works like a well spoken sentence. I wanted to share a few sentences developed from a recent photo shoot, and thus the reason for the unusual number of pictures in this blog. I want to share what results from a good storyboard and a great conversation. I developed a storyboard based on the couple’s responses to a questionnaire I sent them a week before the shoot. The theme that emerged was like a 3-act play: The Coffeehouse, The Conversation, and The Commitment. The good folks at the  Daily Grind and Wine, as well as the Curiosity Bookstore in Murphy, NC, gave me permission to  use their space for the first Act, The Coffeehouse.  Jordan Breazeale, my shotgun shooter (who doubles as a model), identified a beautiful, brick-lined alley near the historic Henn Theatre also in Murphy, which was to serve as the location for the second act – The Conversation.  It was there that I got the ball rolling with typical questions about Kristen and Stephen’s first meeting, first phone call, first conversation; about the moment or string of moments that made it clear that one could not live without the other. Soon, they were just talking, and myself and Jordan were just spectators with cameras capturing “well spoken sentences.” The third act – The Commitment, was shot on an old bridge that straddles the Valley River. The bridge is of questionable durability but enormous photographic presence. The laughing, the ebb and flow of their conversation along with playful banter; recalling events of getting from “there” to “here” was like listening to old friends...

Ian’s Style

I would like to claim some credit, say that it was just “the way I have with children” that brought about the images from Ian’s photo shoot. I’d love to say that it was the “child whisperer” in me that brought out the life in Ian’s portraits. Truth is, it was all Ian and his big personality. The shoot lasted maybe an hour.  I let him do the directing (as if I really had any control at all): the hats, the poses, the expressions. The kid is great at improv. This was not a typical conversational portrait. I didn’t prompt him with a question. I think I just told his mom that I’d like to test a used lens I just bought and asked if I could take some shots of Ian with his hats against an empty wall in her home. She brought out a bunch of his hats and Ian stepped on stage. I really dig this...

What happens at the photo shoot …

… Stays at the photo shoot The conversation that resulted in the series of pictures above (a conversation that I simply cannot share but will always make me snicker) is why I love shooting conversational portraits. In and of themselves, conversational portraits aren’t showstoppers. They’re not the pictures other people will gawk at and moon over.  The only people that need to gawk and moon over them are the people in the portraits, and the family and friends they care to share their images with. Getting folks comfortable by talking about things they are comfortable with is key: work, family, habits, hobbies. The conversation doesn’t even have to walk down the sunny side of the street. It can take a turn down the dark alleys, step near land mines. It can be, and often is emotionally complex. People like to talk, and not necessarily because of ego, or because I am a captive audience as the photographer. But how often does someone ask you about YOU and your opinion, your thoughts, your side of the story? How often do we get to talk about ourselves in a way that’s not only solicited but genuinely welcomed? Rather than concentrating on smiling or posing and coaxing the person to be relaxed (“…relax your face, relax your eyes, smile with your eyes…”) the person is already invested in the conversation that’s of interest to her, and is therefore naturally relaxed. Rarely do I coax someone into a pose unless I’ve been secretly mulling over your face and have pre-visualized it in some setting. Then I’ll draw up a storyboard (and I love to storyboard). But the conversations that ignite the looks and the laughs – that’s what adds the...

Lizzydoodle

[Feel free to share this post by clicking a social network above] Liz’s impromptu conversational portrait session was about the first time she met her husband, Dave, some 17 years ago, and the moments she recalled becoming endeared to him … moments that included seeing him with his “Russian hat with ear flaps,” and “digging in his pockets for change at McDonald’s.” That was her story. These are her pictures....

My Favorite Studio and Lighting Kit

I took a drive around my neighborhood one late summer Sunday afternoon. It’s a small financially struggling town like many small towns across the country. On either side of the narrow main street that sees little traffic sit empty store fronts, empty and neglected lots – fodder for studio backdrops. I drove around, noting the time, drawing sun diagrams and sun maps in a notebook to help me remember how sun light laid against the pale brick walls of the drug store, the ivy-covered stone walls of a long defunct general store, the chipped plastered walls of a once popular department store.  I walked the radius. I scouted locations. The next week, I solicited the help of one of my most willing models, Jordan Breazeale and using my new favorite studio (the town I live in) and my favorite lighting equipment (the sun and the sky) we came up with what you see...

Why shooting your smile makes me frown

“Can you believe mom said [x]” A couple of days ago my roommate, who doubles as a make-up artist/stylist, was doing a practice make-up session with a group of girls. While that was going on, I was backswinging. I hung my comfy throw on the wall and had each one take a turn on the couch after the make-up was done. With the mother, however, I did an impromptu Conversational Portrait session, during which she waxed poetic about many a topic. When I was done I went to my room, loaded up the pics and set up a quick slide show. I called one of the other girls to come back and watch the show. “Oh that’s a nice one, oh that’s a nice one,” she’d say as the smiling pictures went by. But then we got to this series of pictures … … and she said, “Oh, that’s when she started talking about [x].” (Don’t worry about X. X is unimportant for this story.) Later, I called the rest of the girls in to see the same show. And at the very same series of pictures, the daughter now said… … “Oh, that’s when mom was talking about [x].” (Really, X is not important) Conversational Portraits have more emotional currency. Was the smiling picture nice? Sure. Was it better? I know many people that would say yes. Whether or not it is better doesn’t change the fact that the Conversational Portrait is the one that resonated enough to elicit a conversation beyond “oh, that’s nice.” It has been my experience that people will often take the smile. But it has also been my experience that people will also say, “can I have that one [or those...

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