Friday, February 12, 2010

Phriday Phun

Peggy Sue, Peggy Sue, Oh How My Heart Yearns For You, 
Oh Peggy, My Peggy Sue ew ew.....
That should be enough of the song to jog your memory if you remember that era!  (For you young folks, you'll just have to bare with me on this post.)  This diner is off I-15 right near Route 66.  As many times as we have driven past, going to and from Calif, I have never eaten here.  (Jeff and the boys have while on their way to a car show a few years back.)  Anyway, it has been there for years, and this trip we stopped for lunch and enjoyed all the nostalgia, memorabilia, music, and friendly waitresses.  I wanted this photo to have a vintage look so I faded and altered the color to give it an 'old' feel.

Taking this photo reminded me that sometimes it's good to get out of one's rut and/or comfort zone and shoot subjects you normally don't do or feel comfortable doing.   Several years ago Kay Lynn and I had the wonderful opportunity of attending a week long photography workshop taught by National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore.  I've mentioned this before because I learned so much and we had so much fun.  This workshop really forced me out of my comfort zone.  The hardest assignment for me was one evening we were told to walk the streets of Santa Fe alone, and take photos of strangers at 20 feet.  And no sneaking quick candids.  We had to engage strangers in conversation, ease their suspicions, and make them comfortable enough that when asked, they would allow us to take an up close and personal photo of them.  Yikes!  Talk about intimidating and being out of my comfort zone.  It took a long time to muster up the courage to initiate that first conversation, but I did.    I think many of us are comfortable shooting landscapes, still life, etc.,  where we can take our time, fiddle with our camera, experiment and shoot until we get it right.   These  'subjects'  usually don't move and they certainly don't bruise our egos with a critique of our abilities.  Even if we shoot moving wild life, still, no one is sizing us up or watching to see if we know our stuff.  For me, next on the list of intimidation is to do portrait or  wedding photos.  Now you have to perform and people may or may not like what you do.  Really scary at first, but at least most of the time, these people are asking you to take photos.  (I have a wedding on Saturday.)  But walking up to a total stranger who will probably be irritated that he has been interrupted from where he was going or what he was doing, and more than likely has no interest in having his picture taken, is about as intimidating as it gets for me.  Here are some of the photos I took for this assignment:

Street vender selling jewelry.  I think this was the first one I did and I bought that bracelet because I was sure she would be angry for letting me take her picture if I didn't.
This guy was sitting with friends in an open air bar facing the sidewalk.  They were drunk and having a 'great' time, and I was sure he'd forget I took a photo of him 5 minutes after I left!
This is the owner of another open air bar. All the photos behind him were of his father, a war hero. He was very proud of him and told me about each of the photos. I noticed he looked very much like his father, and I like that I caught him mimicking the pose of his father in the photo behind him.  BIG DISCLAIMER HERE...In case you think I frequent bars, I don't!  We were in the tourist section of Santa Fe where there are numerous bars open to the sidewalk, and this was where most of the people were!
Sidewalk cafe, reading the paper and drinking his coffee.
I stopped this man on the street and told him he had a very handsome tie and asked if I could take a picture of it.

This experience led to a fun, interesting and ongoing photo project of mine, that has been a challenge and has stretched my abilities.  When I'm out and about, I try to find people at work and take their picture in their work environment.  A sort of character study if you will.  I try to find unusual jobs, but not always.  If the person is interesting or photogenic, that's good too.  This forces me to make decisions quickly... how will I compose the shot, how can I eliminate distracting backgrounds, how do I emphasize what the person is doing, then decide which lens and camera settings, etc.  I learn to multi task, because while all these things are going on in my brain, I'm engaging the person in conversation by asking questions about what he does in order to develop a quick rapport and lower defenses.  I meet interesting people and hear interesting stories.  I'll post more 'characters' in the future.