Spanks $2 to Receive

I love this photo of my friend Renee being spanked by Arch Rival Rollergirl Kirsten O’Loughlin at the 2012 Midwest Mayhem in the City Museum here in St. Louis. I originally posted this image on Facebook but then kept going back to it. I developed a black and white version from the original color which I think adds a gritty element to it which I really like. It was shot in low light with my X100 and the resulting grain also adds to the mood. I just love this photo.

But That Night

Past midnight on a rainy late December evening in Manhattan. To say it was raining was an understatement: it was torrential, and cold as well. The bar near Port Authority was truly skanky and smelled like unwashed union guys, stale beer and urine. The burger joint that came after the bar was pretty much the same.

But that night … no one cared.

Always Be Shooting

Parking garage, downtown Saint Louis

It has been a busy week here in St. Louis, and it’s only Wednesday. I had to actually pull up my calendar to check that, since to be honest I wasn’t exactly sure what day of the week it is. We have been busy unpacking and car buying, and while we are getting to the end of the unpacking process, we still have a lot to do. Not surprisingly I’m settling into the new loft very well. I have a kitchen I can use, you know, ordinary sized stove not a little toy stove, counter space … all in all it’s amazing.

It’s so amazing in fact, that I have to make sure to remember that my job is not to hang out in my office apartment every day. I am a photographer, and a photographer that spends his days organizing hanging files in his filing cabinet and other household items is not going to improve as a photographer no matter how diligently he stacks and straightens his Post-Its, pens and copy paper. Having a neat and organized office and having all of your equipment in order is important, no doubt. But it all means nothing if you’re not shooting. Hence the acronym that most photographers who blog have mentioned: ABS, or Always Be Shooting. It’s sometimes difficult to find the time when you have the other important things in your life happening, but if you’re a professional photographer, this is something you need to be doing. Not only so that you can have work to throw up on your blog, but so that you keep your creativity primed, your skills sharp. And lets be honest here, if you love it, you’ll find the time.

Citygarden, Saint Louis

Given that I’ve been in Saint Louis for exactly one week as of today, I have a ton of stuff to do. But today I took some time for myself and went out with my camera to explore a bit. I didn’t make a massive trip of it, and I stayed in the neighborhood where I live. However, my little photo walk this afternoon got the juices flowing, and as a side benefit, opened my eyes to a bit more of the city then I’d seen before. I can’t wait to go further afield (although when I go I’ll be armed with water, a hat, and sunblock – the St. Louis humidity is a force to be reckoned with. It was kind of overcast in patches today when I was out, and I felt that black and white conveyed the mood. Here is some work from today.

City Center, Saint Louis

Detail, Orpheum Theater, Saint Louis

Alley, Downtown Saint Louis

As a side note, Saint Louis has alleys. There is nothing more interesting to me than these little half streets behind buildings, in the middle of blocks. They aren’t on every block, but for some reason they always make me smile when I stumble across them. I had alleys growing up in PA, but New York doesn’t really do alleys – too much wasted real estate I guess. Perhaps I should do a project of just alleys. I’m also thinking of doing a project about parking garages … lots of those in Saint Louis too!

DIY Small Format Snoot – Silver Edition

As I’ve mentioned before, a large part of my job is to make portraits of executives at my firm. The new visual identity for the firm which was officially launched today calls for environmental-style portraits rather than studio shots. The more of these that I do, the more I realize how similar all the shots in our office is becoming. There are only so many straight portraits I can make in our building before they all start looking the same.

I had to make a portrait of a new executive last week, and since she was able to give me 45 minutes (as opposed to five or ten minutes) I took the opportunity to explore a few alternative options to the basic conference room table shot.

For one of the shots, I opted to experiment with my home-made snoot which I made a few weeks ago and haven’t had a chance to play with before. Rather than using and old cereal box (which has become the blog-favorite material) I chopped up a silver pocket folder from an old design job that I had laying around. I put the silver-side in, and then taped up the outside with gaffers tape to make it look pretty. Then I added an extra strip of tape to the top with a piece of velcro to hold it snugly onto my 580EXII. The added velcro turned out to be very usefl when I was moving the light around during the shoot -I never had to worry about the snoot sliding off even though it was angled down on the subject.

DIY-Silver-Snoot

Initially I thought that the silver would help intensify the light, which would in turn allow me to use a lower setting and increase my recycle time. This turned out to be true. However, I got an interesting added bonus to the silver interior: the light when absolutely bonkers inside the snoot and came bouncing out in a really cool pattern on the wall behind the subject. The main light targeted the subject’s face where I aimed it while the secondary light patterns coming from the reflected interior shown on the wall with less intensity around her.
DIY Snoot - Silver edition

I love the hard shadow behind her and then the softer light patterns all through the frame. You can see where the direct light is hitting on her face and shoulder and then the lighter reflections all around. All this from just one light on 1/4 power. Obviously, in a situation where it would be more critical to focus the light to a specific area, my silver snoot wouldn’t work as well, but in a case like this it added much more depth to the portrait.