Let’s talk fishing

I’ve been having a love-hate relationship with technology lately. As an Art Director for a magazine I love what the advancements in technology has done to make my job easier. As a photographer I am placed more in the middle of the road about it. With certain things, such as off camera lighting, the digital revolution has helped tremendously. It certainly has made leaps and bounds of improvement in the quality of images from 35mm gear. My medium format film gear however, still puts up a good fight against digital. Yet as a father and member of society technology greatly frustrates me.

Yes those techno-marvel gadgets have made a lot of things easier, too easy in a lot of respects. Raising a teenager you realize that it is so much easier for kids to get into trouble because of the ease of access to various things due to society’s appetite for all things hi-tech. Kids and adults become mind controlled zombies glued to their tiny phone screens for hours a day. One on one conversations have been replaced by text messages and tweets. Life revolves around tiny, computerized pieces of disposable plastic.

Obviously I am from the generation that didn’t have these things as a child…thank God. You actually had to use your imagination and create fun things to do or you had to…gasp…go outside and play. Step away from the computer games young ones and walk towards the light!

There is one particular outdoor activity that has brought almost magical healing powers to both of my boys. Healing not from physical ailments but mental and emotional issues that this overloaded society piles on our children. That activity is fishing.

If you start them early, they will gladly put down all electronic devices, even the phones, to go fishing. Heck they will even get out of bed early which is no small feat when you are dealing with a teenager. Instead of staring at a tiny phone screen they will be entranced by that magical globe of red and white plastic floating in the water. The child’s whole being will be transfixed on that bobber waiting for the inevitable tap, tap, tap followed by plop under the water. Fish on!

There is a real sense of wonderment with a boy or girl’s first fish. The colors, the feel and yes sometimes even the smell of it all gets stored in their little brains. It’s cool, it’s real and it’s not electronic. Initially it will be all about catching fish for them but over time they will start to appreciate the whole experience. Things such as how the sky looked one evening as the sun set or the smell of the water mixed with fumes from a small outboard motor on a fishing boat. Maybe if they are lucky they will see a bald eagle swoop down and catch their own fish. This is a good place to be both in mind and sole.

What does this have to do with photography? If you have your camera with you, and you always should, you have the chance to capture moments of childhood innocence. Images of youth doing something healthy, clean and fun.

Tight lines and happy wandering.

Location Portraits

I am a road warrior. What I mean by that is, I don’t own a brick and mortar studio. I photograph everything on location so I guess you could say the world is my studio. The challenge and also the exciting part for me is that I don’t have the safety net of a controlled studio environment. As a location photographer every photo session is different, the location, the lighting and the visual appeal are never the same. You don’t have the luxury of pulling down one of your favorite backdrops and turning on your studio lights that are already stationed in their pre-appointed spots that always gives the perfect 3-1 lighting ratio. No siree, it’s scratch your head and hit the ground running every time.

For me that is part of the fun. It’s the challenge of putting that visual puzzle together within minutes and providing the client with a studio like photograph done in the comfort of their own home. As a professional you need to choose a lighting system that can be set up quickly and that is reliable. You have to know your gear and have backups to backups.

This session was like a lot of my sessions, it started as one kind of session and grew from there into multiple scenarios. When you show up for the shoot you need to be equipped to cover a variety of possibilities. Advance notice from the client helps and in this case that is exactly what happened. Paul and Carol are friends of mine and their daughter Emily was in need of some professional portraits for her resume. Great, no problem! Then Paul decided he needed similar photographs of himself for his business and Carol decided she wanted some photos of her and Paul and then her and Emily. See how that works? It happens all of the time and for you the photographer that is a good thing.

On the technical side this whole session was done in Paul and Carol’s living and dining room area. I brought lighting equipment as I always do. My lighting style is more like cooking, I season to taste. I don’t worry nor do I care about the exact lighting ratios. I go for a look or mood that is required and adjust my lighting accordingly. For these shots it was a mixture of window light and flash. Sometimes the window light was the main but most of the time it was a fill light and my flash was the main light. In the shots with the backdrop, it was two flashes without any window light.

For the gear side of things, all images were shot with a Nikon D300s and a 50mm and 85mm prime lens. Lighting was provided by Nikon speedlights which were controlled by RadioPopper JrX studio remotes. The main light was shot through a Lightware Foursquare softbox.

Happy wanderings.