The Lounge

February 5, 2009

Jean and I drove to Dubuque on a whim Saturday, and spent a good portion of the night drinking white Russians, apple pie and beer at the Lounge. It’s a good place, with wall paper and mirrors and very dim light, and a posh waiting room with a leather couch inside the ladies restroom. The kind of place where the jukebox music never changes.

At midnight, the youngish bartender leaves for the evening, and the owner’s wife takes over behind the bar. She’s an old woman, hard of hearing, but likes to converse. Above her head hang coffee mugs from across the known world, a collective gift from unknown people, and under the cash register they keep an entire drawer of playing cards.

I didn’t shoot much while I was there. I spent most of the night trying to convince Matt to join Twitter, and to actually use it. All I got out of it was a handful of images of Matt resisting my efforts.

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Portraiture is quickly becoming my favorite genre to shoot, lately I have been focusing myself more on controlled situations. As always, I am but a work in progress, but I like where this work is progressing.

To me, the hardest aspect of portraiture is controlling the situation. The night before a portrait shoot, when I set up my lights and test the various settings I will use the next day, the light is always good. The light can be reproduced. But throw in the subject as variable, and the whole equation becomes skewed. Now I am trying to maintain a dialog with a person I have just met while recreating the perfect light of the night before. I worry that my conversation sounds superficial, while I focus my attention to the light. I worry my light will suffer, while I focus my attention to the conversation. I worry. And I hurry. And I stumble on the loose bricks I never bothered to notice, the night before, while I had that perfect light in my perfectly controlled test.

The question I face is not how to focus the camera, or what ratio to set my lights on. It’s not even how to extract that expression from my subject for which I am aiming, not how to control the people I shoot. No, for me the question becomes how to control myself.

These are a handful of recent portraits that I think worked.

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So it’s not photo related per se, but in this day of increased media layoffs and more and more freelancer contributors, I think it’s relevant.

Say what you will about the Huffington Post, and its, um, interesting way of gathering news, but you have to admit they have made a brand of themselves. Is that why pro contributors are willing to work for a $200 million-plus company for free? The Chicago Reader (who pays their contributors) did a story on one such pro writer. http://tinyurl.com/7yruqd

Personally, I think working for free is horseshit, but I’d like to see what some of you others think based on this woman’s take on it. A good business move? A way to stay busy in a stagnant economy? A hobby? Is her take even relevant to the photo business?

Home sweet home

October 8, 2008

As promised, here are some images of our new place, located in Portage Park on Chicago’s northwest side.

To see the series, click here or on the image.

I’ve been busy with life for the past month or so. Jean and I just moved into a new apartment on Chicago’s northwest side. Photos of the new pad coming soon.

In the meantime, I spent last night testing a simple light setup—with my most favorite model—to use on a series of dining guide photos I am shooting tomorrow. When I say simple, I mean simple. One SB-600, snooted, to the left and back, and a large silver reflector, front and center, just above the frame.

Here’s a few from the take that I liked.

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