Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Pageant Portraits

Just call me Mr. Beauty Pageant. On second thought, don't.

I was assigned to shoot my third pageant in as many months, and I really wanted to do something different. Part of my motivation was me wanting to do really good work, another part of it was just not wanting to shoot another pageant. The result, a behind the scenes mix of portraits that I really liked.

My plan was to grab girls in various states of getting ready and take a nice portrait of them. Here, a contestant practices singing with a CD player before the talent competition.
My set up was kind of tight. I set my backdrop right at the end of a hallway that T-ed with the main hallway the girls used when they walked from the dressing room to the stage. I wanted to be close enough to grab them on the go, but not right in the middle of a high traffic area. I kind of sprung this idea on the pageant director a few hours before the start, and she wasn't all that keen on it. I convinced her to let me set up, but she was very unsure about having me back there.
Occaisonally I would turn my soft box around 180 degrees and sniper the girls as they walked back and forth in the main hallway to change clothes. I made a mini backdrop and set it up in the hall to keep the photos somewhat uniform looking.
At one point one of the girls turned and looked right at me as she walked by. She was framed perfectly on the small backdrop. I love her position and her face. She nailed it.

Before I came to the pageant with a car full of lighting equipment, I sketched a few things out just to be safe. I'm not always the most creative on the fly, so I wanted to make sure I had a few ideas in my head. It's not uncommon for me do this, but I was surprised how some of my sketches translated almost exactly in the camera. That almost never happens.

A few more examples:
The sketch
The result
The sketch
The result
The sketch
The result
It was a long night, but I thought I came out with some nice images. I was really glad some of the girls were really open to the idea. Some more than others. Overall I had a good time, but I really hope I've shot my last pageant for a while.

Friday, February 23, 2007

A Walk in the Park

I'll admit that nature really isn't my thing. I enjoy a beautiful day, but I can enjoy it just as well sitting behind a shaded plate of glass in a climate-controlled environment. Obviously today I didn't have that luxury. I was out on a mini nature hike with two older guys as they talked about how they hoped to buy 14 acres of private, wooded land in the middle of the city and turn it into a public nature preserve.

I rolled my eyes at the thought at first. There seems to a lot of groups in the area doing the same thing. Do we really need another one? But after touring around the place all morning, I started coming around. The area was quite lovely. It would be a shame for it all to be turned into another group of over-priced condos.

Overall the little hike wasn't bad. The only negative was when the old guy guiding me and a reporter took us up a steep embankment. We had kind of zig zaged our way down to the little pond and meadow, but to get back the guy charged straight up an endlessly high hill. About half way up I thought about calling quits, rolling back down in defeat and finding my own way out. But I was not going to let some retired older man put me to shame. Maybe I do need to get outside more.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Opening Day

I'm not a big baseball fan, but I always get oddly excited about the start of the college baseball season. This year I was so motivated I put a little slideshow together. I don't know if I'm getting better at these, but I'm definitely getting more efficient. It took me some time to edit all of the photos, but the audio I hammered out pretty quick.

The game was a double header, so the afternoon sun provided some interesting light in the second game. Here a kid walks between some of the added concrete stands built into the newly extended concourse. Below a batter lets a ball go by highlighted by some cool blue shadows.
Click here if you want to see the slideshow.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Broyles Blues (or Frank Faux Pas)

So today the University of Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles announced he plans to retire after 50 years of service. Unless you live in the state, you probably don't think its a big deal. But here in Arkansas people can't get enough of the drama that has been Arkansas athletics in the last few months.

I was the only photographer from my newspaper, but the competition was out in full force. Here three of their photographers, Mike Woods, Dan Hale and Paul Rutherford, talk about how much they schooled me.

Like any good drama, the event was well scripted and even had some surprise guests. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones showed up to lend his support. Apparently he and Broyles go way back. By the way, I so sat in Jerry Jones' chair when it was all over.

Overall I didn't think I did that bad. I'll admit I didn't have my A game, but I was happy with what I had. Until I got back to the office.
I thought this photo, with Broyles kind of laughing at stories about himself, was a nice moment. When I showed it to my editor, he was less excited about it. Much less.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Fun With Devastation

Members of the Lady Tigers basketball team react from the bench as the Lady Wildcats extend their lead during the final minutes of Rogers' loss to Springdale Har-Ber.


There was some exciting game action coming out of the Lady Razorbacks match up against LSU yesterday. Though you couldn't tell from the 86-65 final score, most of the game was fairly close. It was good times, and I was excited that I shot pretty decent.

Speaking of bad segues, there's this new song that's got me pretty floored. I came across it last night on The Hype Machine, and I've been listening to it non-stop the last few hours. It's from the forthcoming album "The Reminder" by Canadian singer Feist. Its steady beats and effortless vocals are endlessly addictive. It's kind of a new sound compared to her last original album, "Let It Die." I'm interested to see what the rest of the album will sound like when the it comes out May 1. Give it a listen:

My Moon My Man.mp3
by Feist

Friday, February 09, 2007

Color(less) Day

So I know the annual Colors Day celebration (a winter version of homecoming, but for the basketball team) is all about the crowning of the king and queen. But this wide-eyed little boy was just endlessly interesting to me.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Lord Give Me Grace And Dancing Feet

It seems like I've been shooting a lot of church assignments lately. I guess it comes with working on Sundays.

Last week a church burned down. Sunday was their first service since the fire, held in their church gym. I thought this image helped tell the story. Kind of clean, simple and the basketball goal in the back added that displaced element.

Overall, though, I felt there was something missing from my photos. I got people in them, but there seemed to be a human element missing. When I looked back over what I had shot, the images seemed very detached, almost cold. I think I went in so focused on showing the overall image that I missed the individual emotion that would have livened up these photos.

By the way, it's new-music Tuesday, and the new Bloc Party CD, "A Weekend in the City," comes out today. I've been sitting on these two tracks for the last month, waiting for the right time to post them. It was kind of now or never today. The first one is the band's lead single. The second song is the reason I'm actually going to go out and buy their CD. I'm not big Bloc Party fan, but I'm kind of excited about this album.

The Prayer.mp3
by Bloc Party
Kreuzberg.mp3 by Bloc Party

Friday, February 02, 2007

Half Baked

I loved this photo. Apparently I was the only one.

The sports department played it safe (or sane) and ran this instead. Neither are anything extraordinary or ground breaking, but the split vertical was different and kind of cool looking. I like it, and will probably try it again.

So last night I went to the John Mayer concert. It was good times, I guess. I had intended to take pictures and gather audio to share on my blog, but my poorly conceived plan was thwarted. They didn't let me in with my camera at the door, and I apparently don't know how to use the camera on my phone. I figured I could at least get some bootleg audio from the show. My MP3 player doubles as a voice recorder, but the mic on it is a little too sensitive so the tracks are just one big audio clipping nightmare.

So just enjoy this song I intended to post. If you want the live effect I heard last night, play it at full volume in your bathroom and sit and listen to it from down the hall.

Slow Dancing In A Burning Room.mp3
by John Mayer