Meet Xaden, the Firestarter. This is one in a series of many (planned) portraits highlighting ordinary (heroes) pictured in creative situations around the United States... I'm calling the series Has Anyone Seen America Lately? The title came off a used t-shirt I bought from a little old lady in a dung hut with a tin roof in Nowhere, Kenya. It was blue shirt, very thin cotton, and had on it an iron-on bald eagle's head with a tear in his eye... and that question: Has anyone seen America lately? I wore the shirt for years, and then it disappeared, never to be seen again. I am hoping to one day uncover it hidden in a cardboard box somewhere in storage at my folks house... please cross your fingers.
Anyway, back to Xaden. Xaden is the son of a friend of mine. I'd had this image in my head for quite some time... red-headed troublemaker starting fires in the backyard. Xaden couldn't have been more perfect. His mom woke him up early in the AM to drive him to the location in time for sunrise. My buddy Jesse James helped with the fire (all FX were done IN CAMERA, except for the tiny flame coming from the lighter Xaden is holding). The panorama consists of four separate vertical frames to maximize image resolution, and the grill was shot when Xaden was gone to keep him safe. We ran a propane line up through the bottom of the grill, but don't do this at home! Jesse is a trained professional. Everything was then stitched in photoshop, but like I said, FX were done in camera.
Only Canon Speedlights were used (we've been calling it the Canon Challenge... to see how far we could push the abilities of small lights). I used a similar setup during the Martindale police portraits, 4 strobes of varying power situated around the subject to mimic the sunlight. My biggest obstacle was deciding which of Xaden's facial expressions to use in the final project... he was awesome! See below. Let me know if you like one of the other selects better.
I wish I had a time-lapse of this one, but I don't. Boo. I am, however, using this image as the cover to my photo book (actually, my portfolio): I Shoot People... check it out!