Creative hangover

September 28, 2012 

I've been having a bit of a creative hangover since wrapping up the Football Campaign photos a few weeks ago. Without the concept, planning and presentation, each ensuing football player sportrait has felt like a cop-out.

It's not that I was expecting to keep the theme going throughout the season, it's just hard to go back to the normal grind after a challenging, but fun and rewarding portrait series.

The best time to get the players is around practice time. That means they’re either tired after practice, are rushed to get back to work, or have to deal with rabble rousing from the rest of the team. And despite requests to coaches for game jerseys, sometimes you're stuck with practice scrubs.

Apparently coaches have more pressing concerns than newspaper photo shoots.

It's also hard to keep things fresh at the same stadiums and practice fields. When concepts and sets are lacking, I turn toward lighting these days.

After Ruvim Tyutyunnik's strong start as River View High's sophomore quarterback, I decided to stick the sun behind him, knock down the sky for that easy go-to drama:

Richland sophomore running back Josh Phillips was up a week later. Lacking inspiration again, I tried to capture Josh's quiet nature in the portrait, trying to use the goal post to play up the Bomber colors:

I wasn't too happy with how this one turned out and wanted to make the portrait of Kamiakin's K Perrins and Javan Williams as dynamic as the Braves' leading wide receivers:

I'm not sure it quite reaches that level and I'm disappointed I couldn't get low enough to completely eliminate the background elements you see below Javan's feet in the lower right corner.

I ran into the same problem for Jalen DeVine's action-esque portrait a couple days ago:

It's my fault really. In the interest of adding drama, I now often default to a backlit setup when I formerly would have loved to use that warm sunset as my one and only light source.

What can I say? I like that pointed light that comes from shooting at the sun.

And while Kai from just a year ago would be thrilled with the results, a gimmick is not a style and I can't help but feel I have ever more to improve upon.

I've been moving in the right direction as the season goes on, though. I used to spend 30 minutes on shoots like this, trying out several different scenarios after fidgeting with my limited light. Now that I'm comfortable with my gear and know its limits, it's time to get out of my new comfort zone and work on better posing and expressions.

And if you're not bored with my endless pursuit of photo improvement, I'm sure I'll tell you all about the next step soon.

To see and hear my neuroticism in person...

I'll be presenting at the Tri-City Digital Photography Club at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4 at the Benton PUD Auditorium at 2721 W. 10th Ave. in Kennewick.

For more important, but harder-to-segue photo news, Nick Offerman wrote a very nice tribute to photo badass Dan Winters at Time's LightBox to coincide with a retrospective of Winters' work in Savannah, Ga.

Eric Kruszewski got a nice write-up at the Huffington Post for his story about how Courtney Gilmour thrives with no arms and only one leg. I remember seeing an earlier edit of this story before Eric left his job as an engineer in Richland to pursue his photojournalism dreams. So far, it looks like he's rocking it and I can't wait to see what he works on next.

Alex Garcia has an interesting column about how presentation, personality and theatricality are important in a business where you're often told that your work will speak for itself.

And the L.A. Times explains how Gary Friedman got the shot of space shuttle Endeavour flying in front of the Hollywood sign. It's a nice subtle middle finger to the clueless wannabes who accused Friedman of digital trickery for the image because hey, if a bunch of people gathered in an obvious viewing spot couldn't get that shot, surely it was impossible.

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