After a hard day in the trenches, all I can do is retreat into photography. The art of working with a product until it matches how I see it in my imagination is critical to my personal happiness. For the past week I have been wrestling with how I wanted to shoot the Hardcore Hammer I asked Graeme Cameron to leave behind from the portrait session. I knew the beauty I saw in the product; then it becomes just how to realize the vision using the techniques and equipment one possesses. Perhaps there was a personal element that related to my grandmother, Laura, that added to the importance that I get it right.
The hero shot was shot outside on a table that a tenant threw out a few years back, but that I dragged in from the trash for my balcony: a little bit of ruined Zen. I decided to go with the Linhof Color 4×5, the Schneider Kreuznach 210mm lens at f.16 via the Fotodiox Canon EOS adapter to my 1DmkIII digital body. I used natural light, a Profoto D1 500w light with a medium umbrella to balance the features of the wood and steel. I also used a ColorChecker Passport to correct the Schneider’s weird colour cast when adapter to digital. Overall, I absolutely love this image, despite my original desire to make it far more tilted and shifted into non-focus…to me this could easily stand up to any photographer’s product work – Martha Stewart would accept this shot, but Monocle would embrace it like a first kiss on the beach.
The next shot was a little lighter, without the mid-air suspension and featured more sharpening to balance out the Canon 50mm f.1.2 lens’ super-shallow depth of field. Less of a hero shot, it could be easily used as a side image or online promotional shot. Shot with natural light only, it was a precursor to the final shot to check for depth, positioning and colour.
The last product shot was just for my own enjoyment. The blur was meant to pull in the viewer in a sexy, snake-like curve through the sharp section into the green finish. Less of a product shot, it is a memento photograph: I love an object and want to recall it in a dream-like way.
Finally, I thought I would post two final images from the portrait session [poor Graeme said I could post photographs as I saw fit], because unlike all of the other images these were shot on Ilford 100 film with the Hasselblad 501 CM and an 80mm CFE and 12o CFi lens. Maybe I am nostalgic, maybe I see what other people do not, but I feel the film translates onto the screen in a way that stands out from the digital images. While I may have processed a few images to re-create an Instagram-style look that mimics film, film is film.
After a week of processing the assets from this session and blogging about all of the details, I still maintain that this was a perfect session. I had time, I had a subject who wanted his photo taken, I had the luxury of using multiple cameras/lenses/mediums and we came away with a full set of quality portraits. I was also permitted to blog about the experience as much as I wanted, which greatly helped me understand exactly what I appreciated about both the process and the product. Over the past few blogs I have talked about the product, the person, the brand, the techniques, the gear and shown a variety of final products. The purpose of this is to acknowledge that to produce quality photography that matters, a photographer needs to understand all of these key areas. For full disclosure to readers, I should note that I worked with Graeme in an eventual exchange for a Titanis axe [and possibly a hammer as an unexpected bonus] – I am not being paid money, but I love this product so much that I was happy to do the work in exchange for what he produces. Frankly, that is what good work should provide: things you will remember and care about. Money is money, but in the end it never replaces those things that we love to keep close.
Perhaps I should also note, from a pure business perspective, that if I were relying on my photography for my survival, then the luxury of shooting and producing this many assets without a clear financial turnaround would be financial suicide. However, photography is my passion. I have time to slowly build clientele that I love to work with and who appreciate what I offer. I can take chances on work that a purely professional photographer cannot, and that is a giant advantage in my ability to learn and improve my final mastery of the art form. In the end…this session is done. The discs are burned. Next stop will be to finish out the school year before I head to San Francisco, Portland, Vancouver, and Charlottetown to start the summer. East Coast meets West Coast in a miss-mash of photography and food experiences.