I created the following image at the Marie Zimmerman House located in Pike County PA at the top of the Delaware Water Gap in the Poconos. My goal was to create a seductive image that spoke thousand words to the viewers imagination. The staircase was beautiful and the natural light coming from a window at the top of the stairs was perfect. I immediately knew what I wanted. I asked Nicole to pretend to walk up the stairs, yet be looking down expectantly as she is framed by the window. Her posture, position and facial expression was exactly as I had envisioned. She is stunning. There was only one item that needed to be corrected to make the image perfect. I had her drop the shoulder strap off her right shoulder. I took one last look and raised my Leica M9 with a 35/2 Summicron to my eye and captured the image. Some may consider the image a bit dark, but I think it’s perfect
I have spent most of my time doing documentary photography while shooting images for local and national publications that use my images on the inside and on the cover of their magazines, newspapers and advertisements. Wedding photographers refer to this as a photojournalistic style, even though many of them have never been a photojournalist. In essence, we are trying to document a story as it unfolds before our very eyes whether it is sports, weddings, political rallies or other event. To get out of my box, I decided to take a Bodies in Landscape photography workshop at Peter’s Valley Craft Center in Layton, NJ. The class was taught by Laurie Klein, who is a wonderful person, photographer and instructor.
It was a very different class for me. My usual process is very technical. 1) Subject; 2) Focus; and 3) Simplify. Actually it’s not that simple, I usually go to a shoot knowing what I want or at least what a client wants and I just need to make it happen so when I enter a location I immediately figure out where the light is coming from and it’s intensity, decide where to place myself relative to my subject(s) for a clean background then decide if I need artificial lights.
I Laurie’s class, we had to decide the mood we want to create first followed by my process above. That was the most difficult part. I usually just capture the moments as they unfold. i.e. The mood is the mood at the moment. The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, the romance surrounding a wedding. The mood is there for me, I just have to be at the right place at the right time and be one with my camera so the images are captured in my style. Yes, I can pre-visualize my images, but I struggle to plan the mood in advance.
As the class progressed, however, Laurie with the help of my fellow photographers in class, I was able to break me out of my normal process. Yes, it was uncomfortable and exhilarating at the same time. I highly recommend you take one of Laurie Klein’s workshops.
I had another opportunity to shoot my Leica M9 at a wedding over the weekend. It still was not my primary camera but served secondary to my trusty Canon EOS 1D Mark IV. This time I set the M9 to shoot both RAW and JPEG in vintage black and white. The strategy was interesting since the RAW was in color and the JPEG was in B&W, but I can only replay the B&W version until the images were finally downloaded to my computer. I think the strategy allowed me to work better because when I reviewed an image on the LCD in B&W all I can see is mood and composition without the distraction of color.
It was such a pleasure to shoot and the images right out of the camera were so wonderful that I ended up using it for creating half the images. I just wish I had a second M9 as it is always a pain to switch lenses so I ended up relying on both the M9 and the Mark IV. The shooting style is very different with each camera. With the M9, you want to be more methodical. After all it is a manual focus camera and it is easy to bump up against the buffer if you are shooting RAW. When I shoot the Mark IV, I tend to run and gun more because of it’s fast frame rate, huge buffer and fast auto-focus. Next time, one of the bodies has to just stay in the car. In fact, I have a small wedding coming up where it will be held in someone’s home. There will only be 20 people there so it will be a perfect time to go Leica all the way.
Here are some more images from the day. No processing was done with these images other than cropping them and running them through a sharpening preset.
I only have a few friends I consider family and even fewer I would completely trust in a firestorm. Steve, who is the Chief Accounting Officerof a pharmaceutical company in Texas, is one of those kinda friends. We go way way back and I know he will bend over backwards to help someone out, especially a friend. It was a no brainer to say yes when he told me he needed a Dallas headshot photographer to create a portrait he can use for his LinkedIn profile.
The above image was shot with a Leica M9 and a 75/1.4 Summilux. Steve was standing under the shade of a tree and a white foam core reflector was placed about chest high. Since I try to keep my blog rated PG, I’m not going to repeat what I said to finally get a natural expression from him. Can’t even tell he was just wearing a pair of shorts for the shoot. It was 105 degrees Fahrenheit at White Rock Lake in Dallas, TX that day after all.
The proliferation of this disease of course is something the manufacturers love to hear and are alwasys ecstatic when they see articles such as the one in togtech.com where 15 of the Worlds Top 15 Photographers Reveal Their Favorite Gear. The author , Tyler Olson” asked 15 professional photographers “What is your favorite piece of photography gear. It can be a camera, bag, strap, tripod, dolly, memory card, accessory, lighting.. literally anything used in your shooting work flow. I’m looking for a single piece of gear that makes you smile every time you use it or cry when you loose it.”
I tried to think about how I would answer that question. The fact, I had to think long and hard tells me I probably have more than I need but less than I want. So I decided to put a little twist to Tyler’s original question and pose it to anyone who is willing to answer. The question is “What piece of equipment can you make do without even though you use it all the time?”
I believe my personal answer to that would be my Canon DSLR gear. Don’t get me wrong. My Canon Mark IV is very useful and I use it at just about every paid project. It is easy to use, creates wonderful images even in low light, weather resistant, can accept a myriad of lenses and do it at 10 frames a second. What is wrong with all that? Nothing! Especially when I am out shooting sports. For that application, the camera is absolutely wonderful. However, whenever I have that camera in my hand, my personality changes and I tend to shoot like a Taliban fighter doing the Afganistan off-hand. You know the caricature of the guy shooting indiscriminately over his head or around a wall as opposed to concentrating on his sights and trigger.
Yes. It is about the operator, but certain gear helps us do certain things. When I am shooting sports, I want a fast and rugged camera to fit the operating environment to capture the action. However, I am finding that I place greater attention to details and my subject when I shoot with something much slower whether it is a small rangefinder such as the Leica M series of film and digital equipment where I can get close to my subject without an intimidating hunk of gear or a tripod-mounted medium format camera such as the Mamiya RZ67 so I can walk around and study my subject before I move my gear into position.
We’ll see if I can really live without my DSLR gear. I’m going through all the pluses and minuses of such a decision right now. I figure my Leica M9 and I can still do everything I do with the exception of sports. The biggest plus of course would be a kit that weighs a fraction of my Canon gear.