On Using Public Space for Photography

Over the last few days there has been a mild uproar over signs posted in Faust Park in St. Louis County advising that “professional photographers” will be required to apply (and pay) for a permit to shoot in St. Louis County Parks. After a day or two of complaints by area photographers and some coverage in the local media, the signs were hastily removed. It is my understanding that the policy was not backed by an ordinance, and that the policy is now under review by the county.

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Catherine Neville

Catherine Neville, Publisher of Feast Magazine

If you’ve been following my blog for the last few months, you will have noticed that I’ve been doing a lot of work for Feast magazine here in St. Louis. Feast is one of two excellent food publications that I work with. As a photographer interested in food and food culture, I am lucky to live in a town that has a large enough food community to support all of the great writers, photographers and food lovers that contribute to these publications.

Another of the notable assignments I was given over the last few months was a portrait of Catherine Neville, publisher of Feast. Cat pens a “From the Publisher” column for each issue which is accompanied by a different photograph each month. Many publications use the same image for the editor or publisher each issue. New art each month adds a nice, fresh touch to the magazine. When the photographer who usually shoots the feature was had some scheduling conflicts, I was pleased and flattered when Feast hired me to fill in for a couple of Cat’s portraits.

Cat is a great subject to photograph. Despite her concerns about looking uncomfortable in front of the camera, I’ll be honest: it would be pretty difficult to make a bad photograph of her. Each month she either stands or sits in an interesting chair against a white seamless. The real challenge for this portrait was finding an appropriate chair for the sitting versions. As I’ve mentioned in the past, we don’t have a lot of furniture in the studio yet, and after trying a number of different chairs (including one I borrowed from the lobby of my building), Cat suggested that we try my psuedo-modern-wobbily-Ikea coffee table. It turned out to be a great idea. Beautiful!

I have been doing a lot of studio portraits lately (including an exciting project that I’m wrapping up this week) and have really been joying working with people again for a change. I love shooting food, but do you have any idea how hard it is to make a bowl of soup smile?

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.