I’ve been photographing for a lot of years, a lot of different subjects, in a lot of different environments. I’ve walked away at least two solid philosophies for facing many problems, and professional photography is all about facing problems.
1. “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
I showed up to photograph Chicago Tap Theatre’s story show, as I have so many times for a decade, to photograph their performances. (All these images are from when they’re running the show. They’re not posed, they’re not stopped so I can get the shot.) I have a plan of which lenses to use from which locations. Routines for dealing with this and that lighting challenge. An idea of shots I’m looking for, or at least elements I’d like in the shot, depending on what the story is.
The lighting designer had thrown in all the usual challenges, all going on at the same time, plus he added lasers and fog. It looked fabulous. Right up till the shutter speed got above a 40th of a second, because after that I started only getting part of the laser’s pattern. The LED lights, the main lights at numerous points, I was losing parts of at anything faster than a 100th of second. And I’m shooting tap dancers, with fast moving feet, that need to be at about a 500th of second to stop the feet most of the time, or at least 250th of a second to get them kinda sharp a fair amount of the time.
Which brings me to another prominent working philosophy…
2. Photography isn’t about making the right choice, it’s about making the least bad choice.
Photographers aiming to find the right decision are never going to find it. At least when you photograph what I photograph. Photography is all about trade-offs. Higher shutter speeds, which forces higher ISO which gives you more noise. Lower ISOs leading to lower shutter speeds and motion blur. Open the aperture and get a shallower depth of field but also more out of focus images. No matter you’re choice, you lose, in someway, every time.
It’s triage. Which problem leads to the death of an image, and which just hurts it, or adds more work on the editing end (I’m a believer in “Get it right in the camera,” as much as possible.) It’s a balancing act, a little bad here, a little bad there, but no so much bad anywhere that you lose the image.
All of this leads to a third, pleasant, point. Sometimes the harder you have to work for something, the better the final product is.
Shows this weekend and next, Friday & Saturday 7:30pm and Sunday at 3pm at Stage 773 in Chicago. Tickets here.
The Unwritten Rules of College, article hear. Subscription required, but it has another photo leading it.
Jordan Coppert, a senior and star athlete at Faith Lutheran High School, doesn’t take for granted the positive role sports have played in his life. After realizing many of his peers were missing out because of the high cost of sports equipment, Jordan was determined to make a difference. He started out by collecting gently used equipment from his church and school. His efforts grew into a community-wide program called Faith-Fuls, which provides low-cost gear to underprivileged youth in Southern Nevada. This year, Jordan partnered up with Under-Armor to distribute $12,000 worth of new sports gear through Faith Community Day. Jordan is passionate about what he is doing and is committed to continuing this program even after he graduates.
The Trauma Intervention Program (TIP) of Southern Nevada, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that those who are emotionally traumatized in emergency situations receive the assistance they need. To accomplish that goal, TIP works closely with local communities to establish emergency services volunteer programs. In these programs, well-trained citizen volunteers are called to emergency scenes to assist family members, witnesses, and other bystanders directly on-scene, during the investigation. Learn more here.
I do so prefer black and white photos. There’s just something that feels better about them.
Two friends, and photography subjects, of mine, will be playing a jazz duo this weekend for those of you in Chicago.
The photo used in the article is an older one, but still a favorite of mine.