I'm working on a new website but in my search of interesting photos to include I keep running across old favorites. I thought I would share one.
I started working with Renae nearly 21 years ago. I remember because during the first few months of working together we were still over in the old (enormous) studio just east of IH35; the "other" side of town. She helped with the move to my new location and we worked together for another three or four years before she moved to NYC, and then on to Los Angeles.
We worked a lot back then. That was the nature of commercial photography in the 1990's. The work was pretty predictable; whether it was an architectural shoot for a home builder, a corporate headshot "cattle call" on location or a product shoot in the studio, they all pretty much proceeded in the same way.
If the assignment was on location we probably sorted and packed everything the evening before. The new studio is right across the walkway from my house so many times Belinda would throw together a nice dinner and we'd break from assembling all the crap that goes along with a photographer to create images in the wild to sit around the dining room table to relax and eat with Belinda and toddler, Ben.
On the shoot day we'd get back into the studio and start hauling the gear cases out to the car around 7:00 am in the morning, hit the local Starbucks around 7:30, and then pull into the client's parking lot just before 8. It takes longer now. We're no longer a sleepy, little town so we double or triple the travel time.
We'd spend the first hour or so setting up lights and light stands, and taping down extension cords so no one would trip over them. Then we'd start working through either a list of shots or a list of people who needed to be photographed, and we'd get into the rhythm of the shoot. We'd break for a late lunch in the company cafeteria or someplace quick and close by and then get back to the process.
We'd wrap up around 4:30 pm and start packing up. If we were up in Round Rock, with the folks from Dell, we might have a forty-five minute or one hour commute back home to Westlake Hills. If we were south, at Motorola, we could do it in half the time. We'd get to the studio and unpack the car.
If we had another shoot the next day we'd take a little break, have a glass of wine, and then re-pack everything for the next day. We'd unload the film and get it ready for the lab and Renae would drop it by the lab, in the night drop, on her way home.
When jobs all bunched together we'd hire a second assistant whose main job was to ferry shot film to the lab for processing and then bring processed film back to the shoot so we could review it as we worked on the next job. If we had a full week of shooting booked then editing, packaging for delivery to clients, and then billing all got done on Saturdays and Sundays.
If we were lucky enough to have a down day; one without a client assignment, we'd organize the studio, file the negatives and transparencies, clean stuff and then take a little time to do our own photography. This (above) is from a series I did to test a look for a particular gray canvas as a backdrop.
Looking back I can't honestly say that if I were to do it all over again I'd prefer being an accountant or I.T. professional. I can say that I resent the fact that progress has made the need for a daily assistant unnecessary.
It's probably all for the best since I was never able to find someone as brilliant as Renae to take her place.
This is the image I wanted for the cover of my book about commercial photography. I might rip actual cover off a copy and paste this onto the front...
Funny to think that, in 2009, we were still shooting black and white film
in our big, square cameras, for everything that we thought
was personal and important. Funny how some of the work
still bubbles up to the top.
Under the new management the quality didn't change.....just the magic.
Shot in the studio. Available light. Rollei 6008. 150mm.
A Photograph of a Dancer in a second floor studio on Sixth St. Back when it was the cheap real estate in Austin, Texas. Circa: 1979.
We had so much time back in our youth. Time to sit on wooden floors and watch the light flow through big windows and still be amazed by the weightlessness of the dust floating through the shafts of sun.
I was hanging out with dancers and snapping away with an ancient Canon SLR and a 50mm f1.4. Everything was on Tri-X then and I never had to make decisions about which lens to shoot with since it was the only one I owned.
I still love the work from back then. It was propelled only by my curiosity and my attraction to beautiful people.
Funny how easy everything is when your biggest responsibility is to remember to lift the toilet seat lid.
This was taken sometime in 1983. I had recently left the welcoming but soporific bosom of academia; shortsightedly leaving the stability of a steady job for the insanity of the advertising industry. But it was fun. Fun in a way that academia really could never be.
This was taken at the successful end of our very first photo shoot as Avanti Advertising and Design. We had a retail client who sold high end chocolate, Champagne, flowers and cards. The shoot required opening several (or more) bottles of Champagne so we could capture that magic moment when the cork pops and the bottle overflows. Honestly, it was vital to the creative concept....
But once open the bottles couldn't be returned and so it fell to the marketing team on the account to liquidate the luscious liquid. There may also have been some "prop" chocolates that couldn't be resold so we made short work of those as well.
The important thing we learned early on in the business was the importance of really celebrating our victories in the industry. We commemorated every successful television commercial and print campaign with a toast, a happy hour or a "all hands" friday lunch at our favorite, sloppy Tex-Mex restaurant (which, at the time, was Nuevo Leon, on East 7th St.).
This job was shot on a Pentax 6x7 camera and, as was typical for the times, ran in black and white in the local newspapers. I strongly suspect it was shot on Tri-X film and I remember making the 11x14 inch fiber based prints in my darkroom. Good times.
These days I've gotten a bit jaded about the process, and, truth be told, if I celebrated every successful job with a bottle of Champagne I would have died long ago of some liver disease.
Still, it's good to remind oneself, from time to time, that this is a tough business and sustaining success for decades at a time is a worthy thing to celebrate. I think I'll head into the house and see if there's any wine left in the fridge from the last dinner party.....
other notes: hard at work on a very insouciant and strange new website for Kirk Tuck Photography and Video. I'm using a program called, Sparkle. It's fun but so, so time consuming. Now where is that Sauvignon Blanc I remember re-corking....