Sunday, May 25, 2008

Band on the hill

"Up and coming local band, Vespertine Movement, from left, John Kennelly, Owen McCusker, Zach Wilson and Mike “Guzzi” Guzman, of Catonsville, Md., have booked shows at the Recher, Sonar and The 8x10."

The other day, friend and lighting feen, David Hobby had a post about Platon shooting Vladimir Putin for Time's Man of the Year cover.

During the interview, Platon described his journey on how he made the image and how for nearly a week, he had no idea whether or not he'd be able to shoot a portrait of Putin sitting and looking into the camera.

He paced in his hotel room for days; waiting for a call. Evenutally, he was driven hours to Putin's home and then had to wait even longer once there. All that time wasted and he still wasn't sure if he'd get the image he wanted to make.

Then luck swung his way. At the end of the interview with Time, Putin agreed to sit for a portrait.

Now, I recommend watching the interview yourself, because my words don't do this story any justice.

But what struck me was how he connected to his subject before shooting the images.

My favorite part wasn't the image itself, his approach or the story of how he got to the portrait session, but the line where Platon said, "Get rid of the power, so we can be humans together."

It has never been said so clear, yet so to the point. This is such a struggle, we as photographers, go through sometimes and it is that moment of making the subject feel comfortable and breaking the barrier that is so vital in making a telling portrait.

While I didn't have that manta in mind last week during a band portrait, I did seek to get them to show who they really were.

To my advantage, shooting a group of college aged band members isn't quite as challenging as a high-powered CEO or executive from a large corporation, mind you, with only a couple minutes to do so.

This assignment was pushed back two days later, as rain canceled the first session. However, rain lingered in the area before this shoot, too. This time though I was trying to meet my deadline by the end of the day and shot it during a light rain.

When they arrived, I knew that they would be an easy group to work with, as they were just as laid back as I was. It was almost as if I was hanging out shooting pictures of my own friends.

This is always nice. Not only are the subjects relaxed, but this takes the pressure and anxiety off of me also.

I told them my ideas I had in mind, and was also open to their suggestions, as they were the ones who chose Federal Hill.

They agreed to let me do the driving. I did some test frames, but was looking to add a bit of depth to the picture, so I stepped back and started incorporating the park benches into the frame.

As they stood there talking, I told them to keep their mark. I kept telling them I was testing my lighting as they goofed around.

What they didn't know, as I spit a couple wise-humored jokes they could relate to, I was capturing their personalities. Before we moved to the famous canon on the hill, I knew I had a couple nice images of them laughing, just being themselves.

The lighting was harsh intentionally to really make the band pop from the nice cloudy conditions.

If I could have changed anything, it would have been the position of the far left subject to avoid the big shadow on the guy second from the right. I did also have a couple frames where there were no harsh shadows on the two right band members faces, but I liked the above better.

Minor things such as these don't tend to bother me when I know I captured the subject (or subjects) as themselves.


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