Just a sampling of student athletes…
A friend of mine from high school is visiting Northern Michigan during the Independence Day holiday. She lives in Atlanta and doesn’t find her way up here very often, and this was to be her two year old son’s first venture this far north. Ami (my high school friend) hired me to more or less document the trip. I’m not quite done shooting yet, but this photograph is the creme of crop thus far…at least to my mind.
Ami & her husband Eric asked me to join them in Harbor Springs and shoot some photographs along the waterfront. This one was taken on one of the piers directly behind the Pointer Room (hoighty toighty fine dinning. Well worth the bucks, just make sure you bring enough of them). They walked up and down the pier enjoying the scenery whilst I created photographs. Bennett, being just two years of age, has yet to grasp the notion of private property, and was pretty insistent that he be permitted to board each vessel moored. Much to his chagrin, no acts of piracy took place.
This photograph is from about 2 1/2 years ago. I held the process for this photograph close to the vest for a long time, but I did share it eventually.
I dicovered this effect quite by accident. I was taking an alternative process class, and I had a stack of work prints that I was experimenting with in the darkroom. I was getting ready to begin work on the final project for the class. All of my film had been developed and I was ready to get started on the prints.
I had a several baths of various chemical laying about and was running prints through different processes splashing here and splashing there and just seing what does what when mixed with this and that. This print as originally created was woefully under developed. The negative was fine, but I printed it the developer had been exhausted and came out a flat gray. The darkest tone in the print looked like an 18% gray card.
Normally I would have tossed it in the trash, mixed up fresh developer and started again, but I kept it because I am a packrat. I dropped the print into a copper toner bath. I left it there for about 20 minutes but it just wouldn’t get dark enough to look like anything worthwhile. It was friggin pink. It looked like a pepto-bismol/easter egg nightmare. I figured it was a loss, so I pulled it out and was going to toss it in the trash. But before I did, I decided to drop it in a bath of exhausted lith developer just for shits and grins and to see what it would do. The image disappeared almost immediately. I chuckedled to myself and said, “so thats what it does.”
I walked away and moved on to something else, forgetting about the print (well, blank sheet of paper) in the lith developer. about 15 minutes later I walked by the lith bath again and noticed that the image was slowly returning. Lith printing is slow and infectious anyway, so I should have put two and two together.
I dropped what I was working on and tended to the now reemerging image. 40 minutes later, this was the result. Because I left the print to sit unattended, the paper floated in the lith bath and redeveloped unevenly and created a pleasing effect.
These tones are beautiful. I love these little accidents and am quite happy that I fell backward into it. This is still one of my favorite prints. It also helps that Beth is a knock out.
I really have been trying my level best to post something new every day since I “rediscovered” my photoblog, but this last weekend really was a whirlwind (yes, I know it is now Tuesday – it was THAT busy). I photographed a wedding on Sunday for the nicest people you could know and Mr Murphy followed them (and me) at every turn. The poor bride lost her shoes and delayed the wedding by nearly 50 minutes, the sky threatened rain all day but luckily did not deliver…just managed to provide a banal sky for her outdoor wedding and photographs.
This photograph I call “2nd best” because the original idea was to have the groom and his groomsmen standing to the side whilst the 5ish year old ring bearer (an adorable tow-headed boy) took the breaking shot at the table. Unfortunately the bartender won douchebag-of-the-day for not allowing the boy to be in the photographs. Yes, I know, the room was a bar, but it was not a bar open to the general public, nor was there a single soul in the place and the whole thing would have taken less time to shoot than it did to argue with me about it.
The bride & groom like this shot and are happy with it, I just know that it would have been a cut above if I was able to shoot what I had envisioned.
A couple months before I moved back to Northern Michigan (during my last semester of college) I began making regular trips up north. It was during these trips that I decided that “I missed it up here,” and began looking for a place to make a nest. I had been beckoned back up by a former high school classmate that wanted me to come up and shoot a set of family portraits. Word spread and soon I was making a trip north every other week and was dragging my entire studio set up from home to home creating portraits for friends, and then it spread to the friends of friends, then to strangers.
This photograph was created during that first trip last October. This brood is the Cleven Family. Kenda & Brian did not want traditional family portraits. I thought about it a bit and remembered an assignment given my photography professor (Ryan Flathau).
In class had previously discussed Henri Bresson’s idea of the Decisive Moment, that exact moment where everything within the camera’s frame was perfect. It was a fleeting moment that, if not captured in that instant, was gone forever. Being a studio photographer (and an infinite control freak) Bresson’s notion garnered little interest with me. But, I’ve learned that even in the studio, there are those moments that slip away and cannot be recreated, especially with children. The assignment Flathau gave to his students was called the Indecisive Moment, or a greater collection of several decisive moments.
As soon as the idea popped into my head, the refinements and changes flowed like a river and I had every shot planned well prior to my arrival. The set up was pretty simple. I placed the camera on a tripod, set up my lights as desired and took an overall photograph of the empty room. Then I proceeded to take another sixty three photographs of that room with the occupants doing various things. The idea was to combine the best images to tell a story and show the passage of time with a single frame. Brian & Kenda appear only once in the image, but each of their two children appear five times each for a total of ten children doing nothing that they are supposed to be doing.
The photograph is still an untitled piece, but I still enjoy it. Kenda has a print of this image that gets paraded about whenever someone new comes around that has not seen it. That is really all a photographer can ask for.
With the bulk of my clientele being women, families, or children, I rarely have an opportunity to photograph male subjects. I photograph men, but it is usually a couple or family photograph. I’ve noted with my new born shots, I like to put the baby in the arms of the father. Don’t know why, I just do. Yesterday, John & his girlfriend came to the studio at the behest of John’s mom. She commissioned a set of family portraits of all of her children and their families. During the set I was able to talk John into this solo pose. He was reluctant, but humored me. I’m glad he did because his mom loves the shot
As always, click on the image for a larger version…
I never considered myself a “baby photographer” But I have shot quite a few of them since opening my studio, and I am satisfied that I seem to be doing it pretty well. I never imagined while I was in college that I would photograph a lot of children or babies, but I there goes that soul selling compromise I mentioned in an earlier post. But it isn’t really a sell, or a compromise, I’ve found that I enjoy it…even though I’ve had three babies poop in the studio.
Sunny: cheery and very active
Makayla: a carbon copy of her Daddy
Gavin: quiet observer.
Moya: Iron lungs…destined for a career in opera.