This post is about the people rather than the picture. Sure I’m a professional photographer and make my entire living shooting for clients, so of course I have to produce imagery! But the primary reason I chose to do this for a living is to meet interesting and authentic people.
Unlike work for clients, my personal work gives me complete freedom to art direct and create imagery that fits my vision. When shooting for clients those images must fit what they have as a vision for their product. My ability to season the mood of their images depends on each individual client. Some allow me more input than others, but by continuing to do personal projects it keeps me fresh with new ideas and concepts. After 39 years of being a ‘corporate suit’ this is the vocation I chose to do for the remainder of my working days. So I keep my creative mind fresh by continuing to create personal work. The day I find that the artistic satisfaction has left me and it’s ‘just a job’ I just won’t do this anymore. Clients automatically benefit because the ideas I try in my personal work often get used in my professional work. A win/win if you ask me….
Along the way I encounter individuals who I become friends with (many!) and some who I chose to work with on personal projects. In every single case those relationships I’ve formed help me to achieve personal work that would not be possible without those relationships. Now before I give you the impression that the subject matter is what motivates me, that is NOT what helps me to grow as a visual artist. Nope it’s the RELATIONSHIP that is built between myself and the people which motivates me. Let me cite a few examples….
Pro tango dancers
The images above were created after two years of planning and talking about concepts with two pro Argentine Tango Dancers I met while photographing Forever Tango. Obviously trust had to be involved to ensure that my concept of the organic movement of water along with the beauty of their nude bodies was conveyed in the imagery. Had it not been for our friendship and trust, none of what you see would be possible.
On that very same trip one of my clients entrusted me to create imagery for Les Misérables. In this particular case I was able to art direct the session.
This shoot for Les Misérables was also my ‘first date’ with the client for any publicity work. I would not have been able to achieve the look of these images had I not experimented with this sort of light in one of my personal projects. And yes the client took a big chance entrusting me on an important project, but again it all came down to trust. (they still think I’m shit nuts though….!)
Then a few years ago I was hired by a Dallas based ballet company to create imagery of their troupe in and around famous Dallas landmarks. Again my relationship to the company was based on trust and friendship. Here is a BTS video of our one day session at seven different locations around Dallas:
As a result of that time working with some of the dancers, I fell in love with them. Their personalities and enthusiasm was infectious. So much so that I decided then and there that I would fly three of them out to San Francisco for a personal photo project. One of the young women, Christy is what I consider to be a Unicorn. I’ve only known one other in my life and that’s all that needs to be said. It’s no secret that dance is my favorite art form to capture and although I’ve shot ballet in the past, I did not want this to be ‘the usual ballet’ type of imagery. Their art form is all about precision, perfection and unbridled discipline. I’ve always felt that emotion trumps perfection in the world of art, so my concept for their shoot was Power. The power of art. I primarily wanted the imagery to match their personalities, not confining them to ‘perfection’ but to allow them to express their art.
Because I adore these gals it was just a great excuse to have them out and create art in a collaborative manner. Enduring cold windy weather, 50 degree water, lots of lustful eyes and photographic poachers the ladies and I had a great time. Even when a sheriff showed up due to my smoke machine on the beach. Here are some BTS shots taken by my son Niko who helped me as a lighting assistant and lugger every step of the way. (I HATE lugging!)
And here are some of the final images:
So what is this all about? For me it’s all about the people. My camera is simply a vehicle to start a conversation.