Friday, February 29, 2008

Answer: 5-10 Minutes

Questions: How long will this take?

Those are five of the most dreaded words a photographer wants to hear. At this point, you know the meter's running and you have to work fast.

I had an assignment to photograph Craig Spohn, executive director of the Cyber Innovation Center in Northern Louisiana. They are currently housed at the Bossier Parish Community College while their new facilities are being built. Needless to say, the pickings were slim in terms of a location to shoot.

Luckily, I had gotten there an hour early and had time to scout, setup and do a few test pictures. I settled for a sign in the lobby and setup my lights.

After all this concern about time, Mr. Spohn showed up 15 minutes early. 

I made one test exposure and started shooting. I got a horizontal and a vertical photo to my liking and we were done. All in all, three and a half minutes of shooting from test exposure to last photo. Not the ideal scenario, but it worked. We were all content with the photos. But must importantly, I didn't keep him longer than the 5-10 minutes I told him it would take for the shoot.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Meeting New People

One of the best things about being a photographer is having the opportunity to meet new and interesting people.

Currently, I'm in Monroe, La. working on a magazine for the local chambers of commerce. One of the stories is on local artist Edmund Williamson.

One of Edmund's most interesting works is a series of paintings of the Elvis tree. The tree is about 50 miles outside of Monroe that looks a lot like Elvis Presley. Supposedly, a couple of people almost got into a fistfight trying to buy the original painting.

Another person I got to meet was Jackie Green, who owns Jackie's Collectibles in West Monroe, La.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Mike Clemmer's Dulcimers

Last week I had a few shoots in Eastern Tennessee for Tennessee Home and Farm Magazine. One of the shoots was on Mike Clemmer. He makes dulcimers at Wood-N-Strings, his shop in Townsend, TN.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Hotel Room Food Shoot

This week, I'm in eastern Tennessee working on a few stories for Tennessee Home and Farm Magazine.

One of the stories is a food story on Ridgewood Barbecue in Bluff City, TN. Unfortunately, we weren't able to get in touch with the owners, so shooting in the restaurant was out of the question. No problem. I placed a take out order and retreated back to my hotel room.

Earlier in the day, I bought a table cloth, some paper plates (have you ever been served barbecue on china?) and a can of Pam. (more on the Pam later) 

When I got back to the hotel and unwrapped the sandwich, I noticed the steam from being wrapped in foil had caused the bun to wrinkle. 

In a panic, I took off for the grocery store but caught myself before pulling out of the parking. Next door to my hotel was a Burger King. I ran inside and asked probably one of the most unusual questions of the day. "Do you guys sell just the bun?"  

A puzzled cashier called up the manager, who briefly disappeared. When she returned, she had two buns wrapped up for me, free of charge.

I was set. Thank you BK.

After replacing the shriveled, prune-like bun, I noticed the meat had started to dry out. Now comes the Pam. The Pam gives the barbecue a little bit of a glisten and makes it more appetizing. (The goal is for people to want to eat this stuff) You can use any type of oil. Of course, you  may not want to eat it after this.

I laid everything out on a coffee table, bounced a light off the back wall and used a fill card in the front to bounce a little light back into the sandwich.

I varied the shot a little: on the paper plate, with fries, with slaw and on the foil wrapper it came in. I went with the foil wrapper and a few sides.

Not my best food shot, but it works.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

What's more curious than a cat?

Hint - It goes moo.

#2266 gets friendly with the photographer.

Today I finished up a project on the Hatcher Family Dairy that I've been working on for the past couple of months.

The Hatchers own a fifth generation dairy farm on the outskirts of Nashville that has been in their family for over 175 years. They, like most farmers, have been struggling with the decline of the farm industry and also searching for a way to include the youngest Hatcher, Charles, in the family business.

In 2007, they decided to start processing their own milk.

Previously, they had sold their milk through a co-op, where milk from several different farms is pooled together, processed and sold to one customer, usually a grocery store chain.

The Hatchers - there are eight family members involved in the project - do everything from milking the cows twice a day, processing the milk at Middle Tennessee State University, labeling each bottle by hand and delivering it to each of their customers in the Nashville area. They also have their own store located at the farm.

As demand increases, the Hatchers plan to open their own processing facility. 

Charles Hatcher is the fifth generation of Hatchers to be involved in the family dairy farm.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Winchester, KY

It seems like this string of bad weather has been following me on my past few trips.

When half of your assignments are outdoors, you are constantly watching the weather channel or checking out

I literally had about three hours of sunshine my entire week in Winchester. And it all came at once.

I was shooting a group portrait of Winchester's mayor, a judge and the superintendent of schools when I noticed the sun starting to pop through the clouds. I wrapped up the shoot as quickly as I could and threw my gear in the trunk. I jumped in my car and made a mad dash across Clark County. I tried to photograph as much as I could because I didn't know how long the sunlight was going to last.

As I was getting ready to photograph a martial arts class Monday night, I noticed an old theater across the street in downtown Winchester. It had a good-sized marquee and some cool neon lights. Unfortunately, I knew it had been shot for one of the previous magazines, so I looked for a different angle. I crammed myself against a Chevy Lumina parked on the side of the street and arched back as far as I could to get this shot.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Playing with Food

Sometimes, I just shoot what I'm eating.

A friend of mine sent me a recipe from one of her favorite restaurants. It's called SNOB, or Slightly North of Broad.

It's a great little restaurant in Charleston, SC. One of their main dishes is the Maverick Shrimp and Grits. The best thing is, they've given out the recipe. You can find it here.

I'd been wanting to make this one for a while and finally broke down. I decided to commemorate the achievement, and also to rub it in to my friend, so I took a picture and emailed her a copy.

I shot this on my coffee table with a Canon 580 in a softbox and a fill card.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Cooking with Karin

I always enjoy shooting food with my friend Karin Calloway.

For me, it's an excuse to go see old friends and to get the Hell out of Dodge.

Karin and I have been working together for over eight years. It's kind of hard to imagine that. We produce a food column for Viking. She does all the hard work: creates the recipes, cooks all of the food and does all the styling. I just pop into town, take a couple of pictures with my light-capturing box and I'm gone like the wind.

After doing this for eight years, we kind of have it down to a science.

We keep the shoots as simple as possible. I try not to use lights unless it's absolutely necessary. Most of the time it's a little window light, a couple of fill cards and a tripod. Nothing too complicated.

Here's a few photos from a recent shoot.