Model “Monica”, Southern Maryland, May and June 2002


Just add text.

Looking back, commercial (commercial-like) photography — all of this was and remains demonstration — doesn’t get more simple.  The photographer brings his bag and tripod; the model brings herself, change of clothes, makeup: done.   If the model has a friend, add a bounce card.

It’s easy to complicate a “shoot” with gear — the studio has been always portable: Vagabond field battery, light stands and lamps, even the changing room that comes in a bag — a one-person tent — but especially in public open space, the more junk hauled along, the greater the hassle.


I want to do this stuff again!


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Model, “Heidi Blair”, Delaware Shore, October 13, 2001




I’ve been winnowing multiple pages from old film-based “photoshoots” down to single slide file pages, scanning two to a few, and doing so roughly, and posting the same here and Flickr (for a while).

Three observations (and I have been here before):

— The women disappear into new lives with new names.  “Heidi Blair” will have an easier time finding the photographer from that long ago autumn day than the photographer (and viewers) will have finding her;

— I see had a “commercial look” back then and doubtless would have enjoyed shooting catalogs, which ambition, of course, compelled the “time-for-prints” shooting.

— Despite the wonders of old “Digital ICE”, Nikon’s dust-and-scratch removing algorithm (coupled with Hamrick’s VueScan software), film remains a little less convenient a medium than digital.  Both of the above were worked using Adobe’s Lightroom 3 and then ported to PhotoShop to clone out the rough edges of the slides.

–Lessons learned since way back then: watch the hands!   Also, leave some margin for cropping down to the subject (and that in addition to what the viewfinder leaves out of the presentation to the photographer).

–One may do a lot without “fill flash”, but in the most sun struck moments, we need either it or scrims.  Related to that: the larger the production — the more one has to carry! — the less the wandering about alleys, church fronts, gardens, and side streets.

Perhaps I am reorienting, taking a break from politics online and reading offline, and recalling what all that stuff in the closet — I get in there and say to myself, “oh yeah, I remember this gadget!” — was about.  Everything has been kept in good condition, including the battery pack and the main camera, a now old D2x, but my inclination, whatever opportunity comes next, is to keep things very simple for a start: one really may do quite a bit with camera, lens, flash, and reflector.

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Environmental Portraits

Hagerstown, Maryland traditional country music player and crooner Mike Cunningham.

Mike plays his electric possibly more than his acoustic and had meant for our session to produce a picture of grandpa for the kids — all grown up — for Christmas, but they came out so well, the impact was so good, i.e., his delight so effusive, I’ll be surprised if the prints are not already in frames and hanging on walls.

A horizontal portrait for Mike Cunningham.

Every modern life inhabits multiple environments and roles, but one or two in the overall ecology in living develop and most authentically express the soul of the person.  With that notion in mind, family snaps may hold diverse fragments from a life — we see each other but a little bit at a time and superficially — and we’re lucky to find among snapshots even one to a few that speak for the subject.

As artists by nature construct and slip into the looks by which they would be known and forever suspended lovingly in memory, Mike has been doing his part for a while. 

We had a very good rapport. 

He took direction well.  

Between the two of us, I think we got him.


Production Notes

Field Equipage: Nikon D2x; Nikkor zoom 16-85mm and Nikkor primes 85mm and 105mm (f/2.5 Manual Focus);  Nikon L37C filters; Billingham 335 — the top flap makes a good ground cloth for kneeling (where protection or dry knees may be appreciated) — and Gitzo carbon fiber tripod with an Acratech head and Arca-Swiss quick release plates.

Computing: Adobe Lightroom 3.6.

Printing: HP B9180 with the archival (unrivaled for longevity) Vivera ink  set on InkPress Luster, 11×14 borderless

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