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I have found that in our current society we often get wrapped up in this need to buy the biggest, best and newest of everything. I'm guilty too. We've all thought, at one time or another, that we NEED the newest lens, or computer, or light kit - or whatever it may be - in order to accomplish a shoot the way that we want to. Sure, they may help, or make it easier in some ways, but is art not also about the challenges, the creative process, finding ways around things?
As a reminder to myself I often look to one of my favorite photos, from a series taken in school, that was shot with a holga - a plastic medium format camera notorious for light leaks and unpredictable outcomes. The image is of the moon rising over a church in Savannah, Ga. It was taken at night from the rooftop of a building nearby. I was able to keep the frame moderately still, for the guessed exposure, by balancing the camera on top of my head while I held the shutter down. So you see, adventure, lighting challenges and high up rooftops created an image I keep hanging right next to my desk 10 years later :)
Here are some samples of a few more images that I have shot on point and shoots, plastic, and disposable cameras. Never forget that there are no rules to art, and in the end photography is just playing with light. So have fun, go make a pinhole camera from a cereal box and see what you can come up with!
So there you have it, a small sampling of photographs shot in unlikely circumstances with not so traditional cameras.
I recently had the opportunity to collaborate with Element Huntsville, one of our amazing local dance studios, for an impromptu photoshoot. Director, Hayley Henderson, and several company dancers willingly came out very early one morning in June and endured hours of intense physical activity under the hot Alabama sun. I believe that only a true passion for dance and an unwavering love and respect for both Hayley and Element could have gotten these teens up so early. Not only did they arrive bright and early, but they were all smiling and continued to do so throughout hours of repetitious, demanding physical postures. I am still amazed.
Working with dancers was something that I had had no experience with prior to this shoot. I must admit that, as a photographer, it was quite challenging at times. I am used to being in situations where I place my models in a pose or scenario and then direct them with small cues of movement until I find the moment that I am looking for - here was a completely different story. Not only was I clueless as to how to position dancers (thank you Hayley for stepping in here), making it very challenging for me to direct them, but many of these positions were presented in powerful bursts of activity culminating in a single and elusive peak, so fast as to be easily missed should you not be ready to capture it. After listening to Hayley's cues and watching several repetitions of a pose, I was able to learn how to catch these mysterious and brief moments of perfection. *Side note for any photographers out there, I was not able to simply set my camera to continuous shutter and hope to catch the moment by shooting several frames per second because the flash I was using only had enough oomph to take one shot before a few seconds of recharging. Therefore, I quite literally had to time my shots perfectly to catch that true peak where everything came together beautifully.
We did a few location changes throughout the day, all of which I was very happy with. The alley, where we ended up shooting the majority of our images, was the one location I hadn't planned ahead of time. I had shot here before a couple of years ago, but under a very different context (see Nick blog). I love how even though most of these images are taken only feet apart, they all tell a very different story.
A huge thank you to Element Huntsville and the amazing dancers who came out very early one hot summer day and allowed me to subject them to hours of jumping, flexing, bending... you name it! You are all my heroes and I thank you all again: Hayley Henderson, Peyton Davis, Brooke Anderson, Haleigh Briggs and Sarah Katherine Parker. You Rock!