It's been a pretty great week or so professionally. After being featured on (The Freaking) Strobist (!), I found out my Football Campaign 2012 series from last year won the Cowles Cup in the 2013 Associated Press Northwest photo contest.
While I'm far from having "made it" in my career, the recent accolades give me a good reason to look back at how far I've come. Last week's feature shot of the Ams' Connor Rankin fits that bill.
First, we do far fewer feature portraits of Ams players than we do of high school preps athletes. I'm not sure exactly why, but like the Dust Devils and Fever, the professional status and organization, no matter how small, makes scheduling these things a little tougher. I also haven't really pushed to do more shoots and haven't pitched any solid ideas.
Maybe I should.
The first one I remember doing was this embarrassing snap for a feature on five good players who were overlooked at one point:
This was pre-lighting kit, but it's still bad considering my gear limitations. The background is awful and the attempt of having both Mason Wilgosh, left, and Johnny Lazo spraying snow into the mix just didn't work out. I'm sure the idea behind having them there was to stick them in front of the net, but you can't even really see the net. The glass is reflecting the overhead lights and the scoreboard is included for some reason.
I even popped some flash, which was probably just scattered with foil like I used to do. I'm also unsure of why I put so many pucks out there, but kept them nice and clustered.
I pulled the goal away from the distracting ads and glass for this feature on goalie Ty Rimmer:
I should have pulled him out even further to keep the falloff from my lights from hitting the ads. Moving the light source closer to him would have helped too.
I tried to pull out the snow splashing feature again when I met Malte Stromwall, Justin Feser and Jessy Mychan at the neighboring Toyota Arena for a feature. Juggling all the different things I was trying to get them to do didn't work, so I dumbed it down to this shot,
apparently regressing somewhat since the Rimmer shoot a month prior. For Rankin, I wanted to actually do something cool with the skate-stop-snow-spray concept to try and redeem myself. I picked a spot to try and maximize the yet-to-be-advertised space, though I should have angled a little further left, it seems:
The timing's a bit off on that one too, but I also wanted the more epic aesthetic of a low wide-angle shot. Remembering the screw-up from last year, when I had a ceiling light poking out of Kamiakin's Justin Pedley's head,
I used the ice markings to direct Connor toward a cleaner spot. The direct angle of his approach made for a tough read as a portrait:
And after a near miss in terms of timing and puck placement,
we had the shot:
Well, kind of.
The timing of the double spray worked great, not only adding a little compositional counterbalance to the frame, but also further obscuring those ads that local business paid so much to have, but we photographers would pay even more to remove (if we made enough money to do so, of course). The puck could stand to be just a few more inches to the right and maybe have a little accent light thrown onto it for separation from the stick.
I'm also not thrilled with how the shadow from my second light to the left (gelled slightly blue) is cast so harshly on his face,
and the lack of a specular highlight in his eyes makes them look dead. These are things I need to be more mindful of as I move forward. Overall, I think it's a pretty successful shot and definitely the best Ams feature portrait I've made. It's these overlooked details that really kill you when you get back to edit your take and are feeling good about what you've done.
The only other regret I have from this shoot is not having Connor skate in and splash Ams beat writer Annie Fowler with some snow for this setup snap:
As I've improved, I've also tried to work faster. Part of this is training for those situations when I have a very tight timeline and part of it is just dumb pride. It doesn't matter how quickly I got something done if the end result isn't great. I've gotten to the point where I can get the general concept nailed pretty quick. The next step is to scrutinize the details before I call it a wrap.
Onto the links
Check out Tyler Hicks’ harrowing experience witnessing the Nairobi mall massacre. It’s crazy to think of running toward something like that, isn’t it?
In lawsuit land, Avril Nolan has filed suit against Getty because a photo of her was licensed for use in an HIV awareness campaign. She doesn’t have HIV and didn’t like that an ad said she did, so she may have $450,000 soon.
Daniel Morel is suing AFP and Getty for copyright infringement after the agencies distributed photos from the Haiti earthquake without his permission. He’s seeking the maximum of $13.2 million and the trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 12.
And it seems a snarky website poking fun of crappy photographers is popping up all the time now. This one laughs at horrible real estate photography.