Alma. Former chef at Jeffrey's Restaurant.
I hope all the VSL readers had a wonderful time ushering in 2014. We looked at tea leafs, looked at the portents and the alignment of the stars and decided that the upcoming year will be a good one for many, many people.
I spent the last few weeks of vacation time thinking about the year we just finished. I felt so scattered. Instead of concentrating solely on photography I seemed to be stretched in a bunch of different directions. We did more video than in years past. I traveled a bit for work. Spent time in Berlin and New York for Samsung and also had my web debut as an on-camera talent for the kind and wonderful folks at Craftsy.com. I felt like a writer, shooter, pitchman, actor and business guy all wrapped up in one slightly disconnected package.
With that in mind I was straightening up the studio today and paused to look at some transparencies in an old box. It took me back to the era when all I did all day long, all week long and all year long was the practice of photography. For profit. For Art. For Fun. It all seemed simpler back then. I'd get a phone call, we'd check the calendar and if everyone's schedules lined up the art buyer or art director would plow through the details of a shoot and we'd get started with the routine planning. Then my assistant and I would go out, scout, meet our subject, light up a space and then shoot until we knew we had something good. We used bigger cameras, bigger lights and bigger film back then so the physical part of a shoot was a bit more tiring but we had a good groove to work in and it was always, always fun.
This is an image I made for an article on Austin chefs back in the 1990's. It was shot on a Hasselblad 6x6cm camera with a 100mm f3.5 Planar lens. I was experimenting with moving away from my almost addictive use of the 150mm Sonnar lens that we used all the time. Like most of my location portraits this one was done with a big, soft main light on one side and a passive fill, like a collapsible reflector, on the opposite side. We figured out a good exposure for the background with a Polaroid test and almost certainly "dragged" the shutter along with the flash exposure in order to get the background to read and add some dimension.
We had dozens of expressions to choose from and I'm certain the art director used a different one than the one above but I wanted to see what this looked like big so I scanned it.
I decided to put it up on the blog today, at the start of the year, to remind me of my real passions in photography. I love portraits. I love making location portraits. I would like to do many more of them this year. I'd like to really dig into this type of photography and regain my internal feeling of mastery for the holistic portrait experience. A re-invention of sorts. Or maybe just a return to a well loved genre of image making...
It always seems to be good to start out with at least a vague plan. We'll see just how diligently I can stay with the program.
I wish everyone everywhere a very happy year in 2014.