Sliding progressively into the right moment. Prelude to shooting.

Marketing photo for "Immortal Longings", the last produced play of Terrence McNally.
@Zach Theatre.

One of the things that disappoints me about working in this time of having to be conscious about being safe is losing some of the social niceties of photographing people. While we try to be efficient when making "headshots" against a seamless background when time permits I like to take a bit of time to get people into the set, spend some time chatting or having a cup of tea (coffee!) and letting the subject comfortably immerse themself in the environment in which we'll work. 

The current protocol calls for spending less, not more, time engaging with each other. Under this regimen it seems most practical to spend as much time as possible setting up all the lights I'll use for a session and relentlessly testing them with a stand-in (usually me, via self-timer) so that we can maximize our results in a prompt fashion when the talent arrives. 

We're doing a shoot in about thirty minutes and I've gotten the shooting space as well set as I can. I've swept out the space, done the custom white balance, carefully checked exposure and even gotten down on my hands and knees to scrub the shiny, white boards that I use under people's feet when we're shooting against white and dropping out the background. When today's CEO and her creative director walk in we should be able to bow to each other, give a few instructions and then position her on the background and start shooting. 

It wasn't always this way. In the absence of face masking and fear of contagion we would have had the CEO's make-up done here. I would have had time for a coffee with the C.D. and we would have gone over all the things he'd like to get from the shoot once again. He'd add in any new information that might help. 

The talent would spend 15 or 20 minutes being ministered to by a personable and charming make-up professional and I would come by and have a conversation aimed at winnowing out her past experiences as well as the things she likes and dislikes about photo sessions. 

We'd have craft service which, for a morning shoot would consist of muffins, coffee, tea, water, fruit, and little cubes of cheese for people who needed some protein but forgot to eat breakfast at home. Today, not so much. We have bottled water because it can be dispensed with an eye to safety. 

Ah well. This too shall pass. I'm looking forward to our session this morning. It's nice to glide back into a routine that I know well and like even more. 

As so our recent comment-fest: Sorry to unload on you with two different posts but sometimes a bit of negativity goes a long way. I feel like all of us would love to get back to real life but suggesting we substitute one activity with another can be annoying. I may have given someone the impression that I was desperately looking for advice about how to fill my free time but, looking back at recent posts, I sure don't think that was the case. 

Like any of us I despise discrimination in most forms; especially when it is aimed at me. The not so subtle age-ism of the one post was a lively trigger. The implication seemed clear: I'm too old to be taken seriously as a photographer. I had to answer that one or stop blogging altogether. 

Yesterday's last post exhorted me to "get out more." I was stunned. I'm always working, always meeting (either outside for distanced coffee meetings or by the wicked screen meeting tools) and always shooting. The idea that I need to stop what I'm currently doing to go to a small town to photograph a Dairy Queen is laughable. Certainly not on my radar of fun or interesting things for me to photograph. I generally leave the glorification of the cliché and banal to people like Alec Soth. 

The idea of substituting landscapes for portraits just because portrait shooting is less available than last year doesn't make sense to me at all. It's like telling me that since swimming pool time has become less readily available I should take up pole vaulting in earnest. Or, that instead of exercising I should take up a sedentary pastime like playing pool (snooker?). The one is no substitute for the other and trying to press against the emotional inertia and friction would probably cause one's head to combust. 

I appreciate the support of the majority of readers as expressed through the comments. It helps me remember that I am not only writing for the socially impaired but for a larger audience of people who are similar to me. Thanks. 

Now, client arrival imminent. I've got to grab a mask and be ready to greet them. Have a great day.


ODL Designs said...

Wow, I don't visit for a few days and miss all the action!! I don't think many people understand that the vast majority of clients are not interested in earth shattering original art, but in functional, reliable and repeatable craft. And they will pay for it.

It is fun to get the fun projects from time to time, but most work is bread and butter stuff.

Good to see you are working again, keep well!

Anonymous said...

Lovely, painterly photograph. At initial preview glance I did wonder if it was a photo of a painting from one of your museum visits.

Looking forward to the upcoming pole vaulting post. (sports are like camera systems... Right?)


Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...


Frank Grygier said...

Pole vaulting! I may give that a try. Snooker is like lighting. Angle of incidence or something like that.

Tom Farrell said...

Agree with anonymous - that's a wonderful photo. The light is partly due to the Zach technical people, of course, but you captured and tamed it perfectly. And the angle, the pose, the moment - just great!

Rufus said...

I kind of agree with you, but then I do'nt.

Let me clarify - I do not agree with the notion that shooting something else when you can't shoot portraits does not make sense.

For me, it truly does. Shooting landscapes with film these past months has been a joy, simply because I have not historically done it. It is challenging and exciting and really, really works the brain. I would even say it has become therapy.

Fred said...

Hi Kirk,
I think there are possibilities in the pole vault. You do set a high bar.
But lets talk about photos. I found that I spent a few minutes looking at the photo at the top of this post before I even got to the text. I really liked how the lighting separated the woman from the background while giving a little hint of what was back there. And she (the subject) was caught at just the right moment. Very cool. It made me think of a portrait by Rubens called "Head of a Moor" that I have seen several times in person. They are not the same, but my mind made a connection between them.
The juxtaposition of this photo and the one at the top of the last post is interesting. They serve a similar marketing purpose but they are stylistically different implying an enjoyable night at the theater verses scientific competence (and a really cool microscope.)
I just erased two paragraphs comparing the photos that were starting to sound even more pretentious to my own ear but it is fun to look at the two photos one after the other.
Kirk, you do good work.