Saturday, March 20, 2010

Bringing Sexy Back

I once had a boss that liked to used the word "sexy" a lot. Not in a creepy way. Well, OK, it was kind of creepy at first, but I got used to him referring to the good photos and assignments as "sexy." Unfortunately the word came up more often when I got bad assignments, like "I know its not going to be a sexy photo, but we've got to shoot it anyway."


So I had one of those "sexy" assignments last month. A police ride along. Nothing ground breaking, but it was a meatier assignment than the quick shoot-and-scoot daily assignments we normally do around here. Oddly enough, I really didn't want to do it. Spending five hours in a car alone with a police officer sounded awkward and boring, but I knew it would be good for me. It turned out much better than I expected. The time flew by, and I really enjoyed playing with shadows and trying to get the most out of the little light I had. Cruising down the interstate at nearly 100 miles an hour was pretty cool too. When it was all over I was super excited to sit down and edit my photos, and I couldn't wait to see them in print. Unfortunately waiting was exactly what I had to do. The story held for weeks, bumped from Sunday to Sunday because they wanted to give it good play, but a more timely story would inevitably bump the package another week.

Well, the story and photos finally ran last Sunday. It ran on the front page with a stack of photos inside.

A package like that will get your attention, right? Well, I was pretty intrigued by the answer. I hardly ever get any feedback on my photos from readers (or anyone, really). One of the ways I gauge the reader reaction to my work is through web hits. The top six photo galleries on get ranked by popularity. More clicks must mean I've been able to hold their attention despite slow page loads and flashy ads. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when the police ride along gallery quickly dropped in the rankings. Unfortunately, it had some sexy competition.

Saturday I shot the Miss Harley Davidson bikini contest. It was actually an assignment I was really looking forward to shooting. No, it really wasn't just about the scantily clad girls. I was more excited about the photo possibilities. It had such potential for intriguing, attention grabbing and even wonderfully awkward photos. I thought I could be Chip Litherland or something. I had grand images of edgy backstage goodness and debauchery on and off stage. This was going to be photographic gold.

So of course I totally blew it.

Perfectly average photos. I blame bad access and some wonky stage setup, but really at some point there was a lack of effort. That didn't seem to bother our Internet readers. The first online comment made that very clear:
Great Story!
Pretty girls and motorcycles!
It doesn't get much better than that!

And my favorite comment, which came as a text from a friend after I put up a link to the 17-photo gallery on my Twitter page:
I got through 2 of your ride along photos before I saw the video link to Miss Harley Davidson. I'm sure the other 15 photos were nice.

That pretty much sums it up. Who needs feedback anyway?