Business, Preparation, Yearning, Learning, Karma, and Plain Dumb Luck

Maryland Commemorative Plaque, Thomas Kennedy and the "Jew Bill", Studio Photography, Hunter Hill, Hagerstown, Maryland, June 17, 2015I’ve described my interest in photography as the “hobby that became an avocation that grew into a profession”.

While part of that narrative involved spending on the nifty cool stuff promoted by the industry’s magazine — I had started with American Photo, and was among the first subscribers (I wish I had kept the first issue) — the enthusiasm, one of three lifetime pursuits, eventually brought calls to shoot weddings, which I did.

Oh the many paths in preparation: for photojournalism (acquired: wide, normal, and long fixed lenses; later: wide-aperture zooms); for portraiture (50, 85, 105 — Nikon classic f/2.5 manual — 180/2.8); for sports (80-200); for events (battery pack); for advertising (everything plus backgrounds, rolls of seamless paper, stands, lamps, umbrellas, softboxes, whatever might be needed, right down to the gaffer’s tape).

Missing: dedicated commercial space.

The bronze plaque, which was heavy and large, was placed on seamless on a dining room table and propped near to vertical by the back of a chair.  Behind the photographer, a dark muslin suspended on the bar of a background stand — with reflective items, one tries to damp the reflections from objects in the vicinity, in this instance, glassware on the glass shelves of a hutch; light source: three 5000K fluorescents with umbrellas mounted on stands; shooting gear: 60mm macro, Nikon D200, tripod.  All may have been easier in a low key (black walls) studio with an easel ready and strobes on tracks — but then how often does one shoot bronze plaques?  And to what specifications?  And does one enjoy that work?

The inner artist here — and the studio — were happy to get the work and to have been prepared to shoot a reflective and three-dimensional object (the text has been cut into the bronze and had to be brought out with directional lighting), but the arrival was rare — and there are other ways to approach technical reproduction.

The client: happy.

On the horizon: more entertainers.

Tresa Paul fronts Grand Point Station at "Blues, Brews, and Barbecue," Capitol Theater Center parking lot, May 7, 2011, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.

Tresa Paul fronts Grand Point Station at “Blues, Brews, and Barbecue,” Capitol Theater Center parking lot, May 7, 2011, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.

As with music — and because I play and present music quite well — the talent in intuition remains always suspended in time — it doesn’t disappear.  The body ages; intellectual life becomes more complex in some ways: still, where opportunity appears, whether to take a snapshot or produce one or more panels of art, one chooses an instrument and method — from lens to software to delivery — and goes to work.

I think art-making with modern media always deceptive in how simple it looks to get to something good.  Reality, amazingly, begins with footwear — it’s true!  — and works its way up to the whole toy box (where all the elements supporting the art are kept), the vehicle (sports car, SUV, van, or truck), the business of the business items known to all businesses, the calendar, the computing environment, and, at last, some economics.  By the time a photographer and an object – subject – person – organization get together, an awful lot of issues have been pre-resolved — just the same as having lights and lenses at hand when called — and then I think it still a miracle that everything works all the way through!

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