Meet Wesley Corn... a fellow photographer. I've never photographed a photographer AS a photographer... I've used photographer friends for models, photographer friends for stand-ins, etc... but I've never been asked to shoot a portrait of a photographer and represent his or her craft. I'm not sure if I was nervous or excited about this shoot, maybe both. Thank heavens Wes is a cool dude... relaxed, patient and just into it. I must say, shooting artists is usually quite pleasurable. They know the deal... they know what goes into creating something... they know not to expect something totally rushed, totally smooth, or totally without trial and error.... and for that, I thank them all.
I showed up at Wes's place, his grandfather's old farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, not knowing what the hell I was going to do. Wes was selected for the On The Verge show based on images he had created of himself in front of an American flag, so without completely ripping him off, I wanted to incorporate that somehow... for the simply reason that I wanted the portrait to look good, and not out-of-place, when published alongside Wes's work in the magazine spread. Other than that, I was completely winging it.
I toured his place, brainstorming ideas... I eventually settled on the inside of his grandfather's workshop... it was dusty, filled with wood scraps, wasps and saw blades, and had an awesome set of windows. The plan was to use the indirect light streaming in from outside to backlight the flag hanging in the window... throw a couple of kickers, a beauty-dish and a ring-flash on Wes, and presto! Well we hung the flag and went outside to gather more equipment and (this is what makes the fluid creative environment fun) after taking one look at the flag hanging in the window from the outside, I knew that we had stumbled across something even better!
I still wanted the flag illuminated from behind, so I set up a 1200 ws Whitelightning inside the shed aimed at the flag. I took the other lights outside, substituted an umbrella with a speedlite for the beauty-dish, and started loving what I saw. Now the question... what the hell to do with Wes? How do I show him as a photographer? There was no way in hell I was going to have him hold a camera... there is nothing a hate more than the awful portraits of photographers holding cameras. How many of those have you seen on photographer's "about me" web pages or in the contributors sections of magazine? Maybe you are one of them? Shame on you!!! Well, I started out trying an equally lame idea: I had him hold up an empty frame in front of his head. Ouch! And then we dug up an old self-portrait headshot that he'd taken... There was one Wes uses for online dating that he wouldn't even let me see, and then there was this awesome goofy one. Just so happens that the color of shirt in the headshot very closely matched the one he was wearing, so I was happy and knew it would work. I had him hold it in a few different ways, yada yada yada, and there you have it. Oh... and that is a remote trigger in his hand controlling an off-set camera that was recording stills of the whole thing... no, not as lame as holding an actual camera. (you'll see a few of those pics at the end of the behind-the-camera video... my G9 battery died before I wrapped up the shoot, so Wes sent me a gif animation... thanks Wes!)
BTW... rather than speed up the whole shoot to 1 minute in length like I do the rest, I left this one long (2 minutes) because I like the song so much. It's The D Bag Rag by The Avett Brothers.
MGMT: Time to Pretend... the karaoke version.