STATE OF MIND

Shot a commercial project this week…..3 cities in two days.

The day before we left for the shoot I thought to myself: “Great. Roadtrip. Blog material”.
I charged up my little point and shoot, studied the maps, packed the rest of the gear and
hit the road. We left at 6:45 Wednesday morning, Kingston bound.

I took this shot as we rolled down Bronson Ave., on the way to the hiway:

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The next day, on our way back from Brockville I took this, the next and last shot
from the roadtrip:

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That’s it, that’s all. (Except, of course, for all the portraits I had been commissioned
to shoot for St Lawrence College. Shot those, they looked fine.)

Which leads me to the subject of today’s post: State of Mind.

I used to wonder what the reason was when the photos from a shoot didn’t turn out as
well, or interesting, or correct (pick one) as I thought they should. After lots of pondering
and trials and errors I arrived at the conclusion that, almost without exception, it’s because
of the state of mind of the photographer.

Some days (and weeks) you’re hot, other days (and weeks) less so. Of course, on commercial
shoots, failure is not an option. If the shots don’t turn out there’s no one to blame except the
photographer, no matter how many art directors, clients, stylists, etc. were on the set. The pro
will work to make sure the client (at least) is happy. The total pro has standards that are high
enough that, even if he’s not totally satisfied, the client will be. Force of will, experience, tricks
and just plain hard work can substitute for inspiration.

And I ask you: “Who’s inspired all the time?”

Anyway…..

I intended (I really did) to do a blog entry about 3 cities in two days. This is it.

2 COPS/THE FUTURE

A little while ago I was assigned to photograph 2 cops.

Way back in 1984 they had responded to a suspicious activity tip at the Bayshore
Shopping Centre parking lot. Turned out a gang of armed robbers was going to
knock over a Brinks truck that contained about a million dollars cash.

Long story short…..all hell broke loose, big gun fight, one robber dead, the others
fled and both cops got shot. At this point their lives diverged.

Ralph Erfle, shot in the head, went on to recovery and back to active police duty.
Robin Easy, shot in the back of his neck, would never walk again.

I photographed Ralph first. He’s now a Superintendent with the Ottawa Police.
Fit, good posture, active and living the life.

A couple of days later I met Robin.

I’d known the story all along but must admit to an almost overwhealming sense of
saddness when I saw him. I think the contrast between the two men, who at one
time probably shared similar goals, just really brought home a fact of life.

The future is unwritten. Who knows what will happen tomorrow (or even later today).

(click on images to enlarge)

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RETAIL PHOTOGRAPHY

Every once in a while an acquaintance will ask me to do a portrait of them (or their kids).
Happens maybe two or three times a year.

I usually say: “Yes, but only if I can do whatever I want”.

You see, most of the people I photograph, I’m photographing for some other person
or entity. A magazine or advertising agency. An Art Director. Maybe a corporation.

I prefer this since it gives me (in a sense) way more freedom. I don’t have to satisfy
the subject…I only need to make my client happy. (I try to make myself happy, too,
but that’s a whole different story.)

I can’t count the times a subject has looked at a Polaroid or their image on the computer
during a shoot and said: “I look so fat”, or: “That’s horrible”. And so on. You get the idea.
Usually I just tell them to shut up, I say: “I’m not playing that game”. They seem to get that.

If they were the ones who were actually paying me, though, it would change the dynamic,
shift the power (at least a little bit, in my head).

So, the 2 or 3 times a year that I do “retail photography” I always make a point of telling the
folks right up front that I’ll only do it if I can have total freedom, just do what I want.

And they tell me: “That’s why we asked you”.

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