Some might say that considering its past Valentine’s Day we should probably stop looking back at last year, well, I’m throwing caution to the wind and saying that it’s never too late to be nostalgic for something that just happened. Plus, my computer crashed around the holidays so I’ve spent the better part of this new year without a computer of my own so I’m just starting to get caught up. So, I’ll try to keep this short and sweet.
2012 was a pretty great year. I finished college at Ohio University, did an internship in D.C., locked down one of those real people jobs (more on that later), and I’d like to think grew at least a little as both a person and a photographer. I spent a lot of the year trying to find my own vision and find subjects and events that I’m truly passionate about. While I’m nowhere near finished searching for that yet, I at least made some strides in getting there this year.
Over the course of the year I’ve photographed just about everything I can think of, from my first PGA Tour event (so far my favorite assignment to date), to high school sports, to a zombie race at Comic-Con, to the presidential campaign, to OU’s journey to the sweet sixteen and just about everything in between. I’m usually a pretty poor editor of my own work so this is just brief selection and might not even be the best representation of my work throughout the year, but, if 2012 has taught me anything, yolo. (click on the images to view them in a slideshow at a decent size)
So, I was originally planning on posting an “end of the year, favorite images of 2012” post, but due to some technical difficulties that post will be delayed indefinitely. Instead, I thought I would share some photos of an athlete who rocked 2012 like nobody’s business.
Okay, I’ll admit that the title of this blog post is a little misleading, I never really had any doubts about RGIII, I just like making Dr. Strangelove references whenever possible. So, while I knew that the Skins singing Griffin was a big deal I don’t think I truly understood just how much he meant to the District until I attended my first training camp during my internship with The Washington Times. People were going absolutely nuts just to get a look at the guy, and where some athletes might have cringed at this type of admiration and pressure before even taking a snap Griffin seemed to embrace it with a cool sincerity that only further endeared him to the fans. Really, it seemed like everyone was smitten with RGIII’s playing ability and personality, even Mike Shanahan.
And I was really happy to sit back and watch Griffin’s success as an NFL fan. It’s sad to see his postseason end in such a tragic way (especially as painfully captured by Al Bello) but you have to believe that he’ll be back baffling defenses and charming the media in no time. At least for the hope of RGThreever and the sports future of the D.C. area.
I’ve only shot a couple of basketball games this season, and this might be the first year where I don’t actually shoot somewhere close to 50 games a season. I’m getting ready for a pretty big change of pace in life, but coming back to something so familiar, like another basketball game at the Convo, helps slow things down.
A couple of weeks ago The Columbus Dispatch asked me to shoot the Ohio Division V regional final in Nelsonville between Liberty Union and Lucasville Valley high schools. I don’t often get to shoot post season football, so despite nearly getting frostbit hands, I had a great time covering a game with real implications. What made the game even better was that Liberty Union, the team I was told to focus on, upset the second seeded and undefeated Lucasville team to earn an emotional victory.
You may or may not have heard that there was recently a presidential election in these here United States. I know the results have already been announced, but I was busy that night so I DVRed the election night coverage and haven’t had a chance to watch it yet, so, no spoilers in the comments please.
But anyways, I had a great time covering some of the attention Ohio received because of its swing state status. Here’s a collection of shots from throughout the campaign trail, mainly from the Columbus area.
In my short career I’ve been lucky enough to have photographed POTUS a handful of times already and most of the stuff I photographed on this campaign was pretty par for the course. However, there was one event that had a very different feel to it, and that was Obama’s final campaign stop in Ohio, an appearance with Bruce Springsteen and Jay-Z at a nearly capacity level Nationwide Arena in Columbus. This event was much more rock show than stump speech and the difference in energy was really palpable.
Like I said earlier, I’ve photographed some pretty big celebrities and exciting things over the last couple of years but I won’t lie, watching Jay-Z introduce the President following a performance of “Encore” was probably one of the cooler things I’ve witnessed thus far if for nothing than the sheer “is this really happening right now?” aspect of it. It was definitely weird to see the lines between pop culture and politics blur so completely, and I love weird things.
A while back (a very long while back now) I was contacted by Ohio Today, the Ohio University alumni magazine, to see if I wanted to do a portrait shoot with a couple of Bobcat swimmers. I was really excited by the prospect of having an excuse to once again use some lights in the aquatic center, and to drastically expand on the last time I shot portraits in the pool when I was just learning how to use speedlights. So, after working out rates and setting up a time for the shoot, I enlisted the help of one of my very good best friends, Jenna Smith, to help me out on the shoot. At this point in my career I’m not really accustomed to shooting with an assistant, but I can’t really stress enough how invaluable it was to have some helping hands during this shoot, and I’ll get to exactly why that was in just a moment.
In the meantime though, I decided to go with a three light set up and planned out a couple of different scenarios so that we could transition quickly from one shot to the next. I thought at first one of the biggest challenges I was going to have to face was that I had to use two different models of lights for this shoot because I was renting equipment from the school’s gear check out room and due to a lack of available lights I was using two Profoto heads and one AlienBee head. I was able to work around this issue fairly easily while testing out the lighting equipment the day before the shoot, which is something I always do to make sure that everything is firing correctly, and because my roommates enjoy when I turn our apartment into a photo studio.
With everything working well with the lights I assumed that everything would run smoothly once we got to shooting, which was obviously hilariously naive of me. My contact at the magazine, Sarah McDowell, and I had scheduled the shoot to immediately follow a swim team practice so that the swimmers would be in their uniforms and the pool wouldn’t be packed, because they close it down to only the team during practice. However, all parties involved forgot to check the pool’s open swim schedule which apparently begins as soon as the team’s practice ends. So despite the fact that we had arrived for the shoot plenty early to set up our lights, we ended up still being under the gun, trying to get as much shooting done before the swarms of recreational swimmers crowded the pool. This proved to be futile as within about 15 minutes of practice ending the pool was inundated with people swimming laps and a couple of high school swim teams practicing. This proved to be where having help was most valuable as Jenna was able to make adjustments to the lighting, and Sarah was able to coral bystanders away from our shooting areas, both helping to make sure that things went as safely, smoothly, and quickly as possible. I really can’t stress enough how impossible this shoot would have been without the help of those two. I would probably still be huddled in the fetal position in a corner of the aquatic center to this day if it hadn’t been for their help.
Now on to the actual photos. The shoot called for both a cover photo and another photo that would run on an inside spread. Knowing that I was shooting for a cover was helpful because I was sure to leave plenty of space at the top of my frames for the title of the magazine. Other than those instructions, I was given full creative control on the shoot. I had set up about 4 different scenarios I wanted to shoot the swimmers in, but I was sure to shoot some pretty straight forward head shot style photos to get those in the bag before I branched out a bit and made some riskier images.
Betcha didn’t think my camera was capable of shooting verticals! That’s a feature I had to dig deep in the manual for because I knew I’d have to shoot vertical for the cover. It was pretty weird, but I made it through with only minor psychological damage. As for the lighting set up for the head shots, and this next picture, it was pretty straight forward with the two Profotos set up about 45 degrees off to the left and right of the subject, and the AlienBee firing behind the subject towards the water which I couldn’t have predicted working any better, the reflection off the water was even able bounce back up and give some rim light, which was an added bonus and really helped create some separation between the swimmers black caps and where the light on the water started to fall off.
Next we moved to some more actiony shots, where I had the swimmers run through a couple of laps doing butterfly strokes. While I was optimistic about this set up heading into the shoot, I think that it turned out to be the least successful of the set ups.
Finally, I saved this set up for last because I knew it would be the biggest gamble. There is an underwater window in a maintenance room underneath the pool and I had the girls dive deep underwater where I would shoot through the window and pray to the photo gods that the transmitter could make it back up to the pool surface. I then had Jenna hold one of the Profotos so it was shining down onto the water. Using our iPhones to communicate I was able to have Jenna give instructions to the swimmers and to my surprise the light was actually able to pick up the transmitter through about 10 feet of concrete and provided a pretty cool look.
And I was even able to draw off of how the swimmers would move in the water as they swam back up to the top to add another image I wasn’t really expecting to make.
I was especially pleased with how these last few pictures turned out. And towards the end of the shoot it gave the girls a chance to finally joke around and have a little fun after graciously posing for me for about half an hour.
The folks at the magazine seemed to be pretty pleased with how the shoot turned out as well, and they gave the photos some great play. Overall, it was probably one of my most stressful shoots to date, but ended up being one of the most fun as well. It really showed how a truly dynamic product can be produced when all parties involved are willing to work together, compromise, and think critically to achieve the best result possible.
This Saturday was a busy one, as not only did Joe Biden speak in town, but OU also played their home opening football game later that night. Coming off of one of the biggest wins in program history the Bobcats were heavy favorites heading in to the game, and while they got off to a bit of a slow start in the first half they were able to live up being favorites and eventually trounce NMSU to the tune of 51 points.
The biggest story of the game was the crowd attendance, which has been estimated between 26,000-29,000. Either way it ranks as one of the most attended games in school history.