Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Edible Santa Fe, Portraits

I've already gushed about how much I enjoy love shooting environmental portraits. This assignment, which came to me by way of Edible Santa Fe Magazine, reinforced the sentiment. The excellent story, co-written by Kate Manchester, Nissa Patterson, Beverly Post, and Andrea Feucht, spoke of people in our community that are carrying the torch of local-sourcing for the cuisine we enjoy in our favorite restaurants. These people are chefs, restaurant owners, farmers, and produce brokers, and they are adding to the quality and sustainability of our culinary lives. My goal is always to enhance the information being presented with images that bring the reader closer to the subject at hand.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Santa Fean Portraits

I relish most of the work I do as a photographer, but there is nothing I like to photograph more than environmental portraits. There is something very gratifying about pulling up to a shoot with a bit of background information and then working with the subject to find the space and setting that they feel best represents them and figuring out how to light it. As luck would have it, over the past few months I've been commissioned by the Santa Fean for almost twenty portraits.

When assignments of this size come in, my first steps are logistical: mapping out a timeline based on people's schedules and trying to keep in mind the movement of the sun. I always ask the subjects what time of day their gallery/restaurant/studio/etc looks best, which way their favorite rooms face, where the windows are, and so on. Such preparation is crucial for me for all of the obvious reasons, but also because it helps build some rapport with the subject, letting them know that I care enough to bring out their best. More often than not, I think it helps them to put their best foot forward as well, something that I find makes a big difference. The images below represent somewhere around half of the overarching shot list of local luminaries. Subjects include gallery owners, restauranteurs, artists and other folks with a profound presence in the local community. While these photos are from a few different assignments, many of them can be seen the way they were published, with accompanying text by clicking here and navigating to pages 31-41.

*The Walt Willey photo on page 39 was not taken by me

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Sunrise Bank Building

During a shoot a month or so ago I met the folks that manage the beautiful old building that is home to Sunrise Bank in the heart downtown Albuquerque. Having made a mental note, I knew what location I wanted to try when local model Georgia Bevard got in touch with me a few weeks later. Georgia is very talented, full of ideas and positive energy. Lucky for me, she brought along her boyfriend Josh, who I convinced to help me hold an SB800 as a boom shot though a Lumiquest Softbox LTP. Up to this point this had been an impulse buy that sat on a shelf in my office. Pretty happy I made myself use it this time.

We started out in the empty 8th floor while the sun was going down, then made our way to the roof. I mainly used my 24mm 2.8 to try and get more of the amazing view in the frame, though I broke out the 50mm 1.4 and an 85mm 1.4 as well.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Amy & Robert

I'll never forget this wedding. There was a guerilla spirit to the occasion as our group of 7 took over the tram and then Sandia Peak and made it our own before anyone could stop us. I don't know the rules about weddings up there, but I'm sure that we broke a few.

The assignment was different in many ways than the weddings of 200+ people that I've documented over the years, but the excitement of the bride, the careful planning and logistical scrambling, and the over arching joy were all just as much a part of this celebration as any wedding I've photographed. The setting was a sunny, crisp late spring day. Ultra bright as we started, the light got more and more beautiful as the day went on and I was able to put away my speedlights. Amy got cupcakes from Cake Fetish to commemorate the day, and had gorgeous flowers. Her dress was beautiful, and she and Robert projected an air of contentedness that made my job easy. Kudos to the bride for bearing temperatures in the 30s, and high winds, all without a single complaint. Congrats you two!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

CFV Solar Testing

In April of last year, CFV Solar Test Laboratory opened out near Mesa Del Sol, south of the airport. They perform safety, performance and reliability testing of PV modules, and, lucky for me, they value the quality of their marketing and company image. They hired me to come out to the facility for a couple of days to photograph their facility and the people that work there. At first look I was sort of worried, but when I toured the facility with does-it-all manager Christine Rhoderick and owner Martin Plass I noticed hints at great imagery lurking within the testing equipment at the facility. 
     The people were rewarding to photograph. A combination of fun and purpose courses through the company, the kind of feeling I associate with employees being treated fairly and taking pride in what they are doing and employers valuing their staff and making careful choices about compatibility and competence during the hiring process. Contented people doing something they care about shine in front of the camera. On the flip side,  I've done corporate shoots at companies with unhappy employees, and no amount of photoshop can keep it from coming through. We did standard studio-type shots using a two speedlite setup through PLMs. I then followed around the staff and photographed them where they spent the bulk of their day for an environmental portrait. 
     I've been lucky to be part of the growing solar industry in New Mexico, having photographed two locally-based installers and, now, CFV. Maybe not what I'd considered a niche when I set out years ago, but certainly one I'll claim now. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Experience of Exhibiting

Each of the photos below was intended to be in my first real exhibition of my photography. The theme is loose: photos of New Mexico. A couple were taken on assignment for New Mexico Magazine, a couple (monks) for a Sony CD cover, a few commissioned for clients, and some were made as my family and I explored New Mexico together. Three of the images below (horizontal monks/flowers/tree) didn't work in print (see below if you're interested), but were meant for the show so I'm including them here anyway. If you haven't made it by Satellite Café yet, the show is up until March 6th. Thanks to them for reaching out to me for this project. 

I don't print my photos much. The process brings out an obsessive savage inside me that tries to drag me into a rabbit hole of color correcting, paper/monitor profiling, file sizing, etc. from which I may never emerge. For that reason I typically deliver an online gallery to clients that they can print via top shelf printer Bay Photo (by way of my Smug Mug service) out of San Francisco, or (with Magazines and the like) I Dropbox the files and let them profile them to suit the printers they work with. But when the Satellite Café invited me to show my work there, I had to let the savage come out.

It took me a week to figure out the format I would use in the space. It's a huge brick wall, so I had to have really big prints. I grew up in a museum and watched the paralysis that can happen between archivists, artists and installers, so I don't like putting stuff behind glass or using frames/matting/special paper/inks—ad nauseam. I just want it out there on it's own. Simple. Clean. Easy.

I looked into 'thin wrap' options offered by the big boy printers (Millers, Bay Photo, etc). The products are beautiful, stunningly so. They're simple, printed on metal, mounted via a box on the back. They were perfect. Except... they would cost me $500/print at the sizes I wanted. I am a relatively successful photographer, but I'm not Chase Jarvis. I can't drop over $5k for a show at a local cafe. That's a new D800 and a 2.8 mid-range zoom. And part of me always wants to work with local companies (except when it comes to camera stores, but that's another story).

I remembered talking to local photog Kyle Zimmerman about printing really big, and that she had pointed me to a local sign company, so I did some tests with them.  A couple of my favorites were unusable, but the others worked surprisingly well. Shadow detail was horribly rendered, but even-toned light or dark images held up well. For $50/print I decided this was the way to go, so I took another couple days finding images with those qualities and tied together a loose theme about living in this amazing state that I have called home (on and off) for over 35 years now. The signs were printed and mounted on 3/8" hard plastic Sintra. I would use heavy-duty red outdoor mounting tape from home depot (good up to 5 LBS it says) and we'd be good to go.

Not so much.

The day after the manager and I spent 2 hours putting up the show, 4 of the prints had fallen down. Luckily they didn't hurt anyone. The next step was having a very handy friend help me design a system that involved creating a box frame and something to attach it to the wall. It took hours to re-install the prints on the brick wall, but by around 10:30 on the second night we were done. I don't know how many people have seen the show—my phone hasn't been ringing off the hook with print orders—but the anxiety and cost of putting it together were well worth it. I've accomplished a system to exhibit my work big that is affordable and sets up in a simple, clean style. Next time will be easier.