Mere coincidence describes a lot of happenstances in my life. Mere coincidence is how I had ended up at Scout Somerville’s opening reception back in February, through a friend forwarding the invitation to me the day of (probably the best way to get me to commit to an event anyway).
Ironically (because I’ve been told style and I are sort of pals), I never seem to be able to nail it with putting this candy of a girl into an appropriate wrap for a public event. More often than not we just don’t sync, and I either end up feeling waaaay over-dressed, thus compensating somewhere in the dark corner with [usually] complimentary libations, or waaaaaay under-dressed (and I do not mean bikini), thus compensating with [you guessed it] complimentary libations. Haven’t managed to get my tiny ass kicked out of any of those amusements, despite some half-assed trying. Working on it, though.
Anyway, that night, due to late notice, I was wearing my favorite pair of jeans (to be automatically assumed as starting to rip at crotch; first of all, that’s why they are favorite: you wear them until it’s physically impossible; second, I don’t own a pair that’s not ripping at crotch, bike fanatics will understand; for non-bikers, well, just call me The Mighty Crotch), hiking boots, and a lumberjack shirt. At least the latter was matching the red carpet at the entrance - hoozah! I somehow slipped by a beautiful black lady towering over me at least twice my height and assumed the “I just belong” look on my face. While I was stuffing said face with offerings from Garden At the Cellar (got my priorities straight), free beer in my other hand, I darted glances around, identifying network-worthy targets.
Bling-bling in the far end of the space in the form of photo flashes resembled light in the end of a tunnel, and off I went to chat with the photographer. Who would have thought. Photographer points me in the direction of the owner and the photo-editor. Shyness shoved aside by half the beer (miracles present themselves to those who care to notice, mmhm), I introduce myself to the owner as a photographer, hoping to prepare the platform for the next pitch, which is to hopefully work with the magazine in the future. She demands to know where my camera is. While I do dearly love the galloping pace, that was a bit too intense of a start, I thought. Turns out, they had an open call for photographers to come and shoot a fashion set up they had arranged at the reception, so she mistook me for one of them, which explained the “well now this is awkward” look on her face when I clearly presented a dumbfounded look instead of camera. Luckily, I explain myself much more laconically when I speak, vs when I write, and we soon set up a date to meet, greet, and brainstorm some day after the reception.
This is approximately how I ended up with an assignment to photograph ten beautiful, smart, entrepreneurial, talented Somervillians. The issue has already been published, so I feel at right to present here my favorite photographs from those shoots. I will go in order of the shoots as they took place.
Kristen co-owns Boston Vintage Factory, which, according to their own website, is “a D.I.Y. studio dedicated to keeping alive vintage fashion design and techniques (particularly between the 1930′s to late 50′s) as well as retro-inspired lifestyle subjects such as hair and make-up, art and dance.”
She and her partner Jamie offer classes in a small studio at Joy Street Studios (86 Joy Street, Somerville, MA), with all materials and tools provided.
Scout Somerville gave me complete freedom in choosing the theme, setting, and lighting for each portrait shoot in this series. When it comes to portraits (please do not confuse with headshots), I always give preference to environmental set-ups over studio. Given that Joy Street Studios is a stone’s throw from my base at Tiny Russian Studio, I’ve decided to pack up my little bicycle trailer with studio lights in addition to my usual photo gear assortment and bike over at the “golden” hour.
Few things can be more romantic and dramatic than a cycling photographer pedaling their bicycle with trailer in tow, that looks like a nomad’s two-bedroom, into the liquid gold of sunset. Extra style points for hair down and glam shades on. It just started getting warm, too, so my pretty typical pre-session jitters were kicked to the curb, and I arrived some 7 minutes later, all grins and fuzzies. The zing in the air was so pronounced that, when Kristen appeared in the doorway to let me into the building, I almost had it ready-to-go: “screw the photoshoot, let’s get Franzia, and sit on rooftop to watch this gorgeous sunset”. However, my stunning model was dressed up so gorgeously herself, beaming smiles and - I think - the same type of fuzzies, that I knew my jitters kicked the bucket for a reason. This was going to be a great shoot. You just know it sometimes. It’s like, occasionally, a fighter knows they’ve won a fight before they even walked out to the ring.
As we were walking to her studio, various scenarios for set-ups, lighting, and positioning started forming in my head. Often times I can’t really decide on any of this before I meet my subject and connect with them (oh, those horrible - thankfully, very rare - moments when the connection just doesn’t happen). Here, the connection was instant and very relaxing.
I knew I wanted a healthy mix between a modern “hip” fashion lighting and the typical 50s-60s pin-up lighting that renders this flirtatious mysterious glow. Given the “vintage” hint, I toyed with a black and white idea, but once I stepped inside and saw the color scheme (turquoise and crimson, one of my favorites), the black-and-white idea joined the jitters at the curb.
Originally I wanted a generally dim, yet distinguishable background, with Kristen’s hair and/or shoulders lit from behind her. Details are very important to me in any photo, and critical in an environmental portrait. I look for them in every portrait of that type, regardless of who the photographer is. I like when I can’t tell how intentional placement or presence of certain objects is; whether it was carefully thought through and brought into the picture by the photographer/stylist, or if it was a happy coincidence; or if it was elsewhere, but was moved. I don’t like when in a photo that is supposed to look candidly “in-a-moment” I see objects placed too deliberately, too in-your-face, which I understand sometimes is inevitable in product-driven shoots, but that doesn’t make me dislike it less. Or anything really, that screams “you staged that!” That being said, I do realize I have a long way to go myself, and I learn something new and a little more with every portrait I take.
Here is the first take on Kristen’s portrait, with the background and the environment significantly darker than the subject, yet no extra effort is required from the viewer to detect the artork on the wall, books on the floor and couch, sewing machine. The brighter oval on the back wall is a pure happenstance that I loved and let it be, and tried to use it in subsequent arrangements during this shoot. To the left of the model there was a small coffee-table with a mirror top, so one of my lights bounced off producing this lovely reflection on the wall.
The two pillows were laid out symmetrically on the couch, and the couch was right next to the wall, so I moved it out a bit to separate my model from the background, and also create some room for back-lighting; as to the pillows, any pronounced and deliberate symmetry evokes just one very simple, very primal instinct in me: destroy it. Which is exactly what happened to the pillows.
When I looked at the image, I patted myself on the back in terms of getting the lights dialed in exactly like I wanted them on the first try (doesn’t always happen; a lot like with mountain biking: that one technical line that you don’t always nail, but when you do, you feel like you just won a lottery; or maybe you don’t, but I do). Yet, I noticed something else, that I wanted to be more pronounced… If you look at the red pillar on the left side of the first photo, you’ll notice slight play of light and shadow from the window behind me and the setting sun trying to break through the curtains.
I adjusted the light a bit more, so that a more of the natural light was getting more in the picture, and opened up the curtains just enough to cast that through-the-window warm sun-setting light onto the pillar, but not on Kristen: I still wanted her to maintain that look we got in the first photo. The reds that caught on fire from the sun came out delicious in the second photo, very coquette and berry-like. I was pleased.
I do love the horizontal and vertical lines that frame and dissect this photo, and how easily Kristen’s nail polish connects with the reds in the environment (we played with a couple of different hands positions and were happy to settle on this one).
When shooting for a publication or on assignment, I try to get the portraits of my subject facing in both right and left direction, due to page layout design, which is often not known till the last moment. Plus, most people look slightly different when photographed from left or right.
After I make sure I got what I had in mind and my vision has been interpreted well through what I’ve captured, I allow myself to play a little more, experiment, and deviate from the carefully constructed picture. This is what I call safe experimenting. I am not putting at risk my assignment, I already got what I wanted, and happy with it. Even if my experimenting doesn’t really meet my expectations and hopes, it will still be ok. Besides, it’s silly to pass up an opportunity to learn something new, especially if you are like me, and learn best in a hands-on environment. Doesn’t get more hands on than this.
Kristen’s studio had a little staircase that still played some ping-pong with the golden light spilling from the window. We scattered books on the stairs, draped the metal shelving with pale blue fabric and moved the mannequin closer to the staircase. And voila - cat-like porch happiness on a warm spring evening. Just what I wanted. Not sure how much the print on Kristen’s dress contributed to the inspiration, but hey - subconscious is a powerful thing.
The magazine ended up using two portraits, one for the 10 A-Listers in Somerville, another for a separate write-up on Boston Vintage Factory.
Shout out to Kristen and Jamie:
Boston Vintage Factory: http://www.bostonvintagefactory.com
Kristen’s blog: http://thehandmadepinup.blogspot.com/
Shout out to Scout Somerville:
Friday, May 10th, 2013 by admin |
Filed under: Black and White
If you don’t try your best every single day and every moment that you’re awake, what’s your life worth?
Thursday, May 9th, 2013 by admin |
Filed under: Black and White
On the off-chance that you were around East Cambridge today and saw someone who looked like they were having wicked stomach cramps while still heroically trying to walk, well, that - was me. No stomach cramps, however. Bent in half by violent, silent, strangling laughter since I’ve turned the corner of Cambridge and Tremont, I could not un-hear what I had just heard.
Let’s rewind a little. Afternoon latte in hand, I exchange run-in pleasantries with Highland Kitchen’s Mr. McGuirk at 1369, and walk out into an apres-rain sunshine, hair down, jeans with both legs down (vs. biker’s right up), somewhat sore and hence feeling badass from physical exercise the day before, and generally wearing that “bring-it-on” kinda look. Life is great.
Couple of glances into shop windows to make sure my assessment of self is still within the allowable margin of error in relation to reality, eyes refocus on “Eat Oysters - Love Longer” inscription on the East Coast Grill window. Love oysters. Life is great.
As I am approaching the corner of Cambridge and Tremont, my trajectory is facing an anticipatory intersection with that of a group of three 10-12-year-olds, moving toward me. Now, just to give you an idea, in case you are not visually familiar with me, I have always had an exceptionally easy time finding common ground with teenagers partially because even after I hopped over the “30″ barrier I still resemble one, in both spirit and material form. Especially if it’s in passing, like in the street. Especially when my glam shades cover two-thirds of my face.
Back to said teenagers. Mid-turn through the corner, one of them turns his head to me and begins: “Excuse me,…”. If you care to recall, from my perspective, life is great, so I emit this “yeah-what’s-up-chum!!!!” vibe reinforced by my best midday grin. Which is basically the remaining one-third of my face not obscured by the sunglasses. The dude has just the right amount of childhood chubbiness to him not to tip over from “adorable” to “cut that candy out” and is sporting a grin as well. He is a few inches taller than myself. He continues: “Are you tired?..” The pause between this and what followed is minuscule, yet enough for a thought to run through my head: “woah, solicitors sure come young these days”. And now the punch line. The kicker. The cherry on top. “…because you’ve been jogging through my mind all day”. Pardon me, it might have been “head”, not “mind”. And it could have been “in”, not “through”, but I am still in a state of a laughing shock.
Because. I was JOGGING. All day. In his head.
I refuse to use “LOL” in any of my electronic or hand writings. But that second the LOL has burst into my realm, like an explosion, flames and all, ambushed my entire being and sat on top of my inner throne like a rightful emperor, and I was bent in front of it. In half. For almost all of Tremont street that I had to walk.
JOGGING people. Jogging. Through the mind of a 10-year old. Life completed. I can die happy.
There are quite a few things I would like to draw your attention to. First and foremost, I am not making fun of that guy. I applaud him, even though I am well aware that to a large extent the reasoning behind his decision was part prank, part practice, part potential bet, part amusement. I am aware that I look like an easy target , and that phrase sure felt like a bucket of water dumped on you as you open the door with the said bucket perched on top of the door.
It was awkward. It was cheesy. It was hilarious. Who does think of someone JOGGING in their head? To him, it was a purely entertainment snack. But I loved the fact that he did say it. Even though his entourage abandoned him and retreated from my peripheral zone as soon as he started talking. There is a little bit of this “dare” whiff that you also get when you are engaging in something that goes just enough beyond your comfort zone to get the blood pumping through your veins, whether it’s physical, intellectual, or emotional. This little “dare” is what later grows into overall confidence.
I appreciate that 10-year olds do get to practice saying those words, even though much of it is not conscious, not with the words’ intended meaning, and not quite understanding the receiving end of it. It’s not even about the words per se, they are practicing the experience of a “dare” and “confidence” with a female. And that I am wicked happy to see. I appreciate it, because when I look around at my male peers, more often than not (too often!) what I see is plain pathetic. Sorry, guys. It’s true. Where did your 10-year-old “dare” go?! Don’t you even start telling me how females walked all over you, crushed your heart, stomped on your pride and balls, and turned you into what I see now all around.
My close [male] friend once told me, as I was raging (or crying, I don’t quite remember, it was emotional, so it could have been either. Or both) about my that time recent misfortunes on the dating arena: “Well, you do require someone with a lot of confidence”. Granted, that might have been said to make me feel better about myself (totally worked, if you are curious), but it also made me think about this confidence factor in more or less conventional male/female situations, and made me a bit sad. Here’s what I am getting at. I believe I am fairly realistic in terms of my outwardly projection and physique. I am by no means a beauty queen. On a good day I might agree that I’m cute (although when a hispanic guy threw in passing “how does it feel to be beautiful?” at me, I only gayly yelped “I wouldn’t know!”), on an average day I’ll just let you have that, on a bad day I probably won’t have that type of conversation. I am fit. I am educated and I have a quick mind. I can be funny. I am opinionated (go back to “educated” and “quick minded” bullet point). I will not withhold my affection to play games. I’ll dash it out to you like it is and I’ll give praise when it’s due. It’s pretty simple, right? Yet, it’s not. What I just described is hard to deal with in the reality of male/female relationships (friendship and/or romantic). Why? It requires reciprocal value. And confidence. Which is directly proportional to the said self values.
And by confidence I most certainly do not mean “grab me by my hair and drag me to your cave”.
Somehow, along the growing up timeline, men (and women) are handed those stereotypes and expectations of what they need to be to a woman, what a woman needs to be to a man and what a successful relationship, be it friendship or romantic, is. In my experience, if I wanted a conventionally successful relationship, I would have to be mind-playing, flailing, agreeing, intellectually inferior to my male mate. I am going to go out on a limb here and say that probably 10 out 10 males will assert their disagreement with this. But what I also learned is that, aside from the confidence deficiency, most male peers I’ve encountered on an intimate level of various intensity, do not always say what they think, and do not act according to what they say or what they think (true of some ladies as well, to be fair). So I am taking this disagreement with a big grain of salt. Boulder size grain.
Confidence also lives next door to fear. Trust me. I’ve checked. What is the future like with so many “joy-stick”-equipped pussies around? Not too bright. But having that encounter today placed some hope in my heart, along with the smile on my face.
Thursday, Mar 21st, 2013 by admin |
Filed under: Assignment
, Pedal Power Photography
| Tags: amelia island
, amelia island concours d'elegance
, car show
, vintage car
, vintage car show
Before I begin, if you just want to look at pictures, the longest version is on my facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152651442905696.1073741825.659740695&type=1
A shorter, much more concise version is on my website: www.pedalpowerphotography.com/action/adventure
And now, with words!
It is not often that I get the time to reflect upon things, but when I do, it startles me every time, how unexpected of a turn my life takes sometimes. Which is exactly why I am typically averse to planning, at least long-term. You lay out this quasi-perfect agenda for yourself, and then your life goes: “naaaah, you don’t want to go there; let’s take this turn instead, who cares it’s not really a path, it will be after we go through… - whaaam!” Later, as if after a hangover, you look back and think: “ok, cool, I think I can deal, as a matter of fact, I think this is pretty awesome!”
That’s approximately how I ended up being hired to photograph the second largest vintage car show in the U.S. : Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance - www.ameliaconcours.org
Amelia Island is this pretty pretty piece of land northeast of Jacksonville, FL, right on the ocean, as the “island” suggests. Green grass, palm trees and beautiful 75-degree weather in March. Of historical curiosities, apparently it is known as the island of eight flags: “The eight flags flown over the island included those from: France; Spain (many periods); England; the Patriots of Amelia Island; the Green Cross (raised by a self-proclaimed ruler); Mexico (the Mexican Rebel flag); the Confederate States of America, and the United States (from 1821 to present, with the exception of about a year during the Civil War when the Confederate flag flew over the island).”
My deployment to the state where people drive veeeerrrryyyyyy sssslooooowwwwww started on Saturday, March 9th, with a day-old storm impeding my original travel plans and throwing me from plane to plane like a tumbleweed in the opening scene of The Big Lebowski. Ironically, it was exactly in Florida, some 5 years ago, that I was first exposed to the undying hilarity of The Dyude.
My employer has taken great care of their photographer: that room was probably the best so far I had to stay in for work. Needless to say the first thing to come up on TV was Nascar coverage.
Ritz Carlton Hotel
Part of my assignment was to cover the black-tie reception at Ritz Carlton that hosted the event. If you’re a female, that automatically translates into heels and a fancy dress. If you’re a photographer at that, your gear is your diamond necklace, bracelet, and ring (wouldn’t trade it for the latter in any case).
In accordance with the tradition, cocktail hour precedes the dinner. There were a couple of variations of happenings throughout, for example - a live band (the singer’s hair was just as mesmerizing as her voice), and Bill Patterson, apparently a famous car painter (as in depicting cars vs shlapping paint on them) who is particularly known for his live art shows which is exactly what is sounds like: while you’re sipping on your gin, whiskey, or prosecco, he is painting away a race car, because…race car. You know.
This particular piece will reappear later during the actual reception to be auctioned off at $41,000 to a Mercedes dealership.
Some six months ago I happened to document the East coast Holiday of 356 (Porsche model for those of you who aren’t familiar) club, and that was the first time when I witnessed two very expensive and very old cars being hauled into and displayed in the dining hall. This time around it felt almost as a matter of fact, however the type and status of the cars displayed still stole a couple of breaths away.
Part of why I love being an independent, for hire photographer/documentarian is that I constantly get exposed to new areas of human development. I started out as a cycling and portrait photographer, and who would have thought I would end up taking Rally Cross videos (vimeo.com/58165862), documenting vintage Porsche club life, and ending up at Amelia Island Concours, America’s second largest vintage car show? Not I. But here I was, on the stage next to a racing legend, designer, and sports commentator Sam Posey (http://www.samposeydesign.com), whose name rang no bells to me before the event, yet makes the now enlightened me so damn proud to have jumped on the stage to grab a shot. The one closer to the camera is David Hobbs, a well-known F1 commentator on Speed channel. Below are also a couple of photos of Sam Posey’s Challenger displayed at the show as well, and the guts of the beast for you car enthusiasts, because race car.
Close as I was to both of those prominent figures, I couldn’t quite tell how surprised Sam Posey was upon the announcement that a straightaway at Lime Rock Park (architecture around which is mainly the result of his designer efforts) was named after him. It was probably a “goes-without-saying” that he basically owned the thing, now just made public. Would you act surprised?
sam posey challenger guts
sam posey challenger
I will spare you the photos of the [highly enjoyable] food I got to eat the Gala, and move straight on to the following day, which was filled with cars, cars, cars, and more cars. For the participants the day of the show starte early, around 6 a.m. The prevailing majority of those cars (which, by the way, are to be referred to as art pieces vs vehicles; some of them were in a much of a disabled state, moving-wise, however, being one of a kind survivor still places their value at prices close to astronomical) were transported in trucks, which were stationed the night before at a golf lawn dubbed by the organizers as “airport”. That has confused me a bunch of times before we arrived on site, as I couldn’t understand why so many people were anxious to get to the airport before the show even began…
As in any [sub]culture, there are certain rituals that are to be tacitly observed pertaining to the said culture’s expressions. The flow of unloading and getting to the show site, the standing in line, the moving through traffic flags, everything seems to be of a very ritual nature that strikes a chord to my heart as I can’t help but be reminded of my bicycle racing years. The loading, the unloading, the getting ready, the line-up… It’s all very similar and helped me follow the flow of this seemingly unfamiliar yet so easy to understand culture of car collectors.
For continuation of the carAwesomeness please follow the link to a fuller one on my facebook: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152651442905696.1073741825.659740695&type=1
For a very concise version, please visit my website @ www.pedalpowerphotography.com/action/adventure
Till next time, till next adventure!
Wednesday, Jan 16th, 2013 by admin |
Filed under: Black and White
Tuesday, Jan 15th, 2013 by admin |
Filed under: Black and White
Tuesday, Jan 15th, 2013 by admin |
Filed under: Black and White
Tuesday, Jan 15th, 2013 by admin |
Filed under: Black and White
Wednesday, Dec 12th, 2012 by admin |
Filed under: Assignment
, Tiny Russian Studio
| Tags: food
, jody adams
, Rialto Restaurant
, trade restaurant
Do you love food? How about conscious, local, seasonal, and prepared by Jody Adams? The excitement that made me jump up and down like a jack-in-the-box when Rialto Restaurant approached yours truly to take their staff portraits, will make more sense if you just head over there and check it out. While we are on this subject, why don’t you have a quick lunch or a cocktail at Jody’s other venture, Trade Restaurant, as well.
Having photographed for a few restaurants in and around Boston, ze Tiny Russian Studio has deep appreciation for both well executed dishes and photographs thereof.
On this note, for those of you who enjoy cooking, I strongly recommend you visit the cooking blog that Jody Adams and her husband Ken Rivard have started: The Garum Factory . Visuals that Ken has created there are perfect for boosting up your appetite just enough to turn that stove on and dig through the plethora of wonderful recipes on the blog.
Finally getting on our actual subject of portraits, below are a few shots Tiny Russian has taken while on this assignment. They will go up on Rialto website soon to complement staff bios. As usual, the gear and equipment required for the shoots was pedaled over in a bike trailer!
Peter, sous chef
Young, beverage director
Jacki, PR and marketing manager
Annie, special events manager
Brian, chef de cuisine
Ivan, general manager
Andrea, dining room manager
Susan, pastry chef
That’s it for today!!!
see ya soon!
Monday, Dec 10th, 2012 by admin |
Filed under: Pedal Power Photography
| Tags: action
, rail jam
, winter sports
As the rain drops were lulling me back to sleep this morning, little did they know or care, I was dreaming of snow. It is this time of year, when I get all giggety-giggly-jittery-joo as soon as the first snowflake of the season smacks my face. I couldn’t care less for a white christmas, but this girl’s gotta get some snowboarding action in this winter. We’ve had two legitimate snowfalls already, so here’s to more.
Meanwhile, not wanting to wait, I’ve joined in on the rail jam fun, cooked up by SnowRiders boys. What’s come out of it is below for your viewing pleasure.
The strip below is from the latest event held in Providence, RI. Photo excerpts from the first jam in Boston can be found in Action->Adventure section on my website.
skis, nighttime, shovels, beer. add snow. not a bad mix at all.
if you don't love this shot, your blood runs cold. as simple as that.
if your heart rate has not gone a bit up, i'd call your cardiologist.
The rest of the photos can be found on mah website: www.pedalpowerphotography.com/action/adventure
see ya soon!