Early in the spring, I went ahead and booked up my summer as much as I could. Anybody remember last year when I took a non-credit photography course? Well, I thought it was rad. It was mostly “under” me, but it was great to have someone actually teach me the exposure triangle and give me feedback on my art – actual legit feedback from a talented professional photographer. The teacher, Lynn Freeny, was hilarious and seemed to really know his stuff. With this in mind, it should be no surprise that I wanted to sign up for his more advanced classes – Advanced Photography and Photography Studio Lighting, both offered over the summer.
I signed up, had the dates written down, and spent weeks looking forward to it only to be told that not only one, but BOTH, classes didn’t make due to a lack of interest (I was the only person signed up for the lighting course. Lame.). So what do you do when your summer photography classes don’t make?
Well, I don’t know what you’re supposed to do, but I definitely know what happened to me. In lieu of photography courses and classroom time, I just went all-in and picked up my first pro photography gig!
Let me get something out of the way real quick.
I’m in a place where I can pretty much make the art I want to make. My creativity is merely an outlet at this point and I do not rely on it in any way, shape, or form, financially. What this means to me is that I don’t need a bread and butter for a photography business. I don’t want to shoot babies curled up on beds with bows on their heads, so I don’t and I won’t. I don’t want to shoot weddings with the same 50 poses as the bride before this one and the 50 brides before her, so I don’t and I won’t. I don’t want to shoot family portraits that are oversaturated and generic, so I don’t and I won’t.
I want to make art, not a mass-produced product.
What I’d really like to do is shoot portraits of beautiful women with tattoos in cemeteries and at abandoned churches.
Luckily for me, I’ve made a great friend in Amber, founder, designer, and curator of Lost Sew’l Organics. Lost Sew’l Organics is a pretty sweet operation where Amber produces lovely women’s clothing that’s hand made, affordable, and sustainable. She had a new line coming out (that launched today!) and she wanted me to shoot her and her models wearing each of the new pieces. Would I take the job?
In a recent post, I talked about my adventure in location scouting around Oak Ridge and Rockwood. I found two spots that I fell in love with and after seeing the girls at both locations, I don’t think I could’ve been more on the money. Amber seems very happy with the results, as well as her models Caitlin and Sam. I’ve been dying to post the photos and am happy to finally be able to share them with you.
If you’d like to see these in high-res as well as several more photos from this session, check out my album on Flickr.
Just because I didn’t get to take one of the classes doesn’t mean I didn’t learn anything about photography through this experience. I’ve always known that “baptism by fire” is definitely one of the best ways to be “saved” and this certainly fit that bill.
Things I learned:
- I already knew this but I further proved that you can create quality work without a massive amount of pro equipment. I shot on my Canon EOS Rebel SL1 with a 50mm lens I paid $100 for. I brought my tripod, but didn’t use it. The only other tools I used was my handy Metro camera strap by BlackRapid ($40 on Amazon and without a doubt the best camera accessory I own) and a reflector since I knew I’d be shooting facing the sun in the early morning hours. That’s not even $1,000. Equipment doesn’t equal talent.
- Shooting RAW is where it’s at. I read a lot about photographers shooting RAW and, to be honest, it almost always sounds like a pretentious photographer preference – just something else to let us dummies know they’re better than we are. I realize it’s probably not the best idea to try something new on a project that means this much to you, but I figured I got myself out of Auto mode easily enough – I can learn to shoot RAW. And I’m hella glad I did. There were several photos that would have failed had I continued to shoot JPEG. RAW saved a lot of those photos – you could almost say RAW saved the whole shoot. I’ve been converted.
- Shooting gorgeous women is my calling. I’ve eaten crab-stuffed salmon and blueberry bbq ribs while shooting cooking shows, retraced the steps of an unsolved murder with the police chief while shooting police shows, followed the clogging feet of dancers on stage during live theatre productions, seen an old friend get his head busted open with a steel chair while shooting a local wrestling event, and lots of weird, boring things in between…But nothing I’ve ever shot has come close to the coolness that was this photoshoot.
After the shoot, the four of us stopped at a random, generic Mexican restaurant by the interstate for lunch. I was sweaty and gross, had grass in my hair, and stains on my jeans. My shoes and socks were soaking wet as if I had been wading in a stream, and I was worn out as if I’d attended boot camp that morning. When I sat down at that table and shoved huevos y chorizo into my pie hole like I’d never eaten before, I was overwhelmed with the pride of knowing I’d just helped someone rad with something they care a lot about, their passion, their well-being. It was awesome knowing that she’d trusted me to capture that and I hope she gets out of it everything she deserves.
All the things.
We’re doing it again in November, y’all!
Get social and keep an eye open for it.