I loved the idea of this challenge and immediately had someone in mind for it.
My hope that I was also going to be able to create a well lit environmental portrait for my portfolio (one of the main goals for me with the challenges of Creative 52) as well the image for the challenge.
My subject- my friend, Kevin, a manger and bartender at Lucky Joe’s here in Fort Collins and an active member of the community who has been coaching youth football for years is know to have quite the collection of athletic shoes. (I usually call them tennis shoes even though hardly anyone plays tennis in them)
I knew he would be perfect for this challenge. He agreed and I asked him to send me a photo of his collection. I borrowed some equipment, got some visual inspiration-(there is no shortage of people with their shoes) and booked the session.
The first problem was I booked it early in the week when I really should have been teaching. My first lesson learned here was to book shoots when I actually have time- not just time for the shoot but the time for all the mental prep and stress I go through before the shoot. I spent the day unfocused and distracted by the possibilities of the shoot rather than working.
I recently read a blog post called that was about quitting bad habits you may have as a photographer. It listed one of the “don’ts”-as “don’t try out new equipment on a job”. I know this from a horrible past experience not to do this but… I didn’t learn. As I was walking out the door to my shoot- my new remotes arrived in the mail, I quickly through them in my bag and headed out to borrow more equipment that I had never used before.
Although mentally I was spending time on the shoot, I didn’t actually experiment and set up my lights or test out my idea. So when I arrived I had the basic idea but for the most part I was winging it.
My students often say to me before they begin a project- “I know what it looks like in my head,” which I reply to I can’t see what is in your head. I know perfectly well that executing what is in your head to reality is a big leap to make and more often than not doesn’t happen.
Kevin’s shoe room was great, it had wonderful window light, which is what I primarily work with- (and yes, I will admit it is because I don’t know crap about lighting) but because I was determined to create and learn something new I ignored my instincts and started to set up lights. If you are like me you might enjoy this article from David Hobby from Strobist-which really puts perspective on where you might be with your lighting skills.
The Lighting Journey: Where Are You?
Kevin was fantastic; fulfilling all my request to move and reorganize the shoes. I wanted to know more about Kevin’s obsession and where it all started. He told me it began when he first started working in bars, he wanted comfortable shoes that looked good.
I am guessing he has over a 150 pairs of shoes, most are Nike, and he sticks to basic black and white combinations, however whenever possible he likes a little bling with shiny silver. His most coveted pair are a pair of retro Air Jordan’s that are no longer made. (seen in the picture here). His sweet girlfriend found them from a seller on Ebay. I asked him about insurance-obviously wondering if a collection like this can be insured as there is quite an investment here. He wasn’t too concerned even though many of them had not been worn at all or only a few times. He has a small foot for a male and there really wouldn’t be much market value to them if the burglars got to them.
I soon realized he really doesn’t like getting his picture taken and was doing me a huge favor by agreeing. Not only does he not like to have his picture taken but he hates his feet which was the primary focus of my idea. What a trooper.
Not feeling entirely confident I continuing to readjust my lighting scenarios and try different things. I put poor Kevin through the ringer. Of course then my strobes stopped working. Actually, I think it was the best thing to happen to me as I went back to what I knew.
Although I didn’t get what I wanted on this shoot- I know exactly what I want for the next shoot and have a clearer picture of how to execute it. Kevin has generously agreed to give me the time to reshoot.
So with the time, the idea, the equipment and a lot more attention to little details I hope to get closer to the idea that is running around in my head.
I am fulfilling the challenge this week with the images that I hope to improve on and accepting I am on a long journey this year.