I browsed Adobe Typekit, looking for a font that would work with the overall project, but landed on a pre-installed font: Bitter.
The layout was simple enough. I knew I wanted a backdrop for the text, as the image was simply too busy for anything to pop without excessive drop-shadowing (or other equally dangerous text effects), so I threw both black and white backgrounds down. The white was just a little too wishy-washy (technical term) for me, so the black prevailed, matching the Sharpie scribbles in the photo.
White text was too plain, and every other color that I tried came across as tacky, so I ended up doing a content selection on the text, and then took an eraser to my rectangle, leaving me with a beautifully transparent text block.
Again, however; something wasn't quite right. Throwing a white layer of text over the top of my "clear layer," and driving the opacity and fill down, I was able to make the text stand out a little bit more without compromizing the transparent design that I'd come to enjoy.
After that, it was a matter of just playing with a few brushes on a layer mask, and I was able to create a slightly duct tape feel to the erosion of the rectangle, which was the final piece of making this one work.
A fun project, and a great learning experience for someone like me, who doesn't really do design, but sometimes has a decent creative eye.
Honest comes on on Vitamin K's Bandcamp page on 12/10. I'll edit this post to include a link at that time. You can follow Vitamin K on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
I just realized that I haven't thrown an update up here for a little bit, so let me explain.
I've been spending a lot of time recently shooting for Little Village, the Iowa City arts and culture magazine, as a photo intern. Out of respect for them, I haven't been directly posting anything that I shoot for them on any of my pages. However, if you want to see shots that I've taken recently, there are some for Flatbush ZOMBiES, Son Lux, I See Stars, and many more at their Facebook page.
I've really been loving working with them, and hope to be able to keep it up for quite a while.
Looking forward, I'm going to be setting up a professional headshot photography booth at Market Day Iowa, near the Des Moines Farmer's Market, on May 21st. This will be a chance for anybody to walk in and get a headshot for LinkedIn, resume packets, or any professional outlet for only $30. Of course, I'm also willing to do some fun shots (Tinder, anyone?), but professional will be the overarching tone of the event. Stay tuned for more details, as I get my promotional materials finalized. If you're in Des Moines, and would be willing to hang up a ton of flyers around town for me, let me know. I'll throw you a free shoot, with a free 8x10" and 5x7" print included.
In the meantime, come support music in the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids area, and if you see the dude with the creeper mustache standing stage right with a camera, it's probably me.
Hunter Dumped Us Here (I've spoken of them before) is recording a new record, and are in the studio as I write this. I got to sit in on their live demo tracking a little bit ago, and grabbed a few shots of them at work.
Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates regarding their forthcoming record. From what I've heard of it so far, it's slated to be an absolute banger.
Recently, I set a goal for myself. Start taking headshots of people. Take a lot of them, and find a way to monetize it.
It turns out, it's hard to both find a way to monetize a photography style and take a lot of photos within that style unless you're already established, so I haven't really met success with either, in regards to headshots. I do have a few shots that I've taken recently, though, that really demonstrate what I'm shooting for.
The first one is a personality shot of my brother-in-law - Jamin Schrader.
This one just came together. When you get a large personality into a room and just start shooting, it's highly unlikely that you'll walk away without at least a few shots that make you smile. Jamin's shoot was no exception to this rule.
Alex Haynes' shoot, however, was a little different. Alex is a friend-in-passing for me. We never really seek each other out, but whenever we're in a room together, it's a ton of fun. Since we are only friends in passing, however, I wasn't able to find his personality quite as quickly. I ended up getting a nice reserved shot. This is more along the lines of what I'd like to market to businesses as a potential for website staff bios, Lync contact photos, and even LinkedIn profiles.
I really like this photo, because it shows a nice, quiet friendliness that captures Alex's personality well, and sells him as someone that you could collaborate with. As more and more businesses are moving to remote and virtual teams, having a photo that represents you professionally but can still show your personality is becoming more and more valuable towards building teams with intimacy, even when they can't meet face-to-face on a regular basis.
I'd love to shoot more of both of these styles of portraiture, so if you're looking to start a business, spruce up your LinkedIn, connect with unseen coworkers, or even put your best foot forward on Tinder, hit me up.
Here's a short set of photos from Vampire Weekend's pre-rally show at Java House in Iowa City this weekend for the Bernie Sanders campaign. The Lucas Brothers opened with a quick introduction and a few jokes, followed by Ezra K. and "Vampire Weekend" (not actually Vampire Weekend, but Ezra fronted it and they played Vampire Weekend songs, so close enough) along with the UI Hawkapellas.
This thing was shoulder-to-shoulder, so I'm pretty stoked with the quality of pictures I was able to get, even though I was constrained to a 50mm lens. A few people extended grace to me and let me cut in front of them for a little bit, so that I could get some better pictures. Thanks for being cool, y'all.
Early in Pete Holmes' comedy career, he received a piece of advice from a someone more seasoned in his field - Jim Gaffigan. The advice was simple, yet far-reaching in its implications, as Gaffigan simply told him to "be undeniable." This advice has pushed Pete in his comedy, and has become a quote that's impacted him so greatly that he regularly cites on his podcast: You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes.
It's easy to get jealous or bitter throughout life, especially in regards to creative pursuits. Doubly so if you're trying to pay your bills with those pursuits. It's not uncommon to see bands complaining that nobody's supporting the local music scene, or getting angry because their record has been uploaded to a file-sharing site. On the same front, aspiring photographers and artists often look at the work of people who have reached some measure of success, and complain because the work that they're seeing is something that they feel that they could have created. The refrain of "I could have done that" seems to not be far from the lips of many creatives.
However, I've noticed a trend.
Those who are constantly complaining, repeating the tired refrain, and allowing themselves to be captivated by envy, often are the same ones who burn out and give up. Burning out, getting tired, and getting bitter are borderline inevitable for those who take the attitude of constant jealousy. I believe that there are a few ways to fix that.
Love your work.
Learn how to market yourself.
I'm far from perfect on these points. As a matter of fact, this post is largely a reminder to myself that I need to work harder, practice more, and be more gracious. I firmly believe, however, that these points are key to commercial or financial success in creative industries. That's not to say that following these will lead to success by themselves. There are elements of luck and natural-born talent that can't be ignored and will greatly impact your work. Regardless of commercial/financial success, however, these points are key to creating work that you can be proud of, and friendships that will enrich your life.
Leave your thoughts on this subject in the comments below!
P.S. I will begin posting photos again soon. I've taken a bit of a break so that I could take advantage of spending time with my wife while she's on break from school/rotations, but I've got stuff back on my calendar, and will have new shots to share soon.
P.P.S. If you know anyone who's looking for headshot, portrait, senior, or wedding photography, let me know. I'd love to get some more stuff scheduled!
A few days ago I got invited to shoot a house show in Cedar Rapids. Given that this show was being held in a basement with no proper stage or stage lighting, I knew it was going to be a bit of a problem shoot from the get-go. The host, Tim McCray, had hung up some icicle lights and had a few uncovered CFL ceiling lights, but otherwise, the basement was dark.
Throughout the first few songs of the night, I attempted to shoot with only the icicle lighting as my light source, as the overall consensus was that the vibe in the room would likely be better with the ceiling lights turned off. That didn't end up working well, and I ended up with only a couple mediocre photos and a good dose of frustration.
Once I realized that the icicles simply weren't enough light for my style of shooting, I grabbed a speedlight from my bag and started experimenting with ways to bounce that light source without overly irritating anyone. After about three shots I realized that I was even annoying myself with it, and couldn't possibly be helping with the show as a whole, so I quickly pulled the speedlight off the speaker that I'd balanced it on, and decided to go back to the drawing board, hoping that the second band's set would be more photographically fruitful.
After talking to the other photographer at the show, I convinced Tim that we simply needed the CFL above the stage, and for the second band's set, we were granted it. I personally ended up liking the vibe of the room with it, and the brighter stage actually seemed to fit the band's style, so I didn't feel too bad about having changed the overall ambiance of the room. I managed to get a few decent shots during their set. Nothing spectacular, but good enough to share on Facebook as mementos of the night.
Finally, a small win.
However, here's where we get to the good stuff. As Tim's band, Know The Ropes, was getting ready to play, he approached me with an idea. He proposed that we kill the overhead light and instead throw an uncovered lamp back by the drums. My first reaction was to get concerned as to whether I'd be able to see any faces, but figured that it couldn't hurt to try something new, as I hadn't been particularly thrilled with my shots from the night up to that point and knew that the overhead was still an option if all else failed. I took a few test shots once the lamp was carried over, and knew that we were finally looking at some real potential.
The light provided enough ambient lighting to allow me a cool shot of Wes McMain, one of Know The Ropes' guitarists:
You'll notice that there's a slight depth-of-field issue, as I wasn't quite on board with the lighting yet, but overall, I was pretty happy. You can see the lamp-light coming from off the left side of the photo, reflecting off of Tim's arm in the background. Once I pulled the image into Camera RAW, adjusted the white balance, and dropped the saturation and contrast a little, I ended up with a nice warm studio vibe. To my mind, this shot looks like any number of studio music videos that I've seen recently, so I'll take it as a success.
As the set went on, I pulled around to try to get a good drum shot. I find it hard to shoot drummers, as they sit toward the back of the stage and are rarely well lit. The lamp provided a cool backlit glow from certain angles, so I played with that and shot a few dummy shots, experimenting with how I could make it work for me. I haven't played with backlighting or silhouetting much, so this was an interesting experiment for me. Thankfully, with the lamp on Tim's right hand side, I finally got everything lined up and was able to fire off a few shots, with one clearly standing above the rest.
Here's that image:
I had to think this one through a bit more than most of my shots. I didn't want the actual light bulb in the photo, as I feared that it would blow out the image and distract from Tim's silhouette, so I had to wait for the cymbal that you see in the foreground to settle into a place where I could position it to block the bulb while leaving enough of a glow to create a fun contrast between the two halves of the photo.
There are a few big take-aways/reminders from shooting through this evening of less-than-optimal light:
Even when you're getting frustrated. If I'd just thrown down the camera after the first band played, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to stretch myself or get what ended up being some really cool shots.
Be creative and pull in other people's ideas.
The lamp was Tim's idea, not mine. He knew that I was having trouble with lighting, and was able to propose something new that eventually ended up producing a better shot than I ever could have gotten on my own.
Limitations can be advantages and learning opportunities.
If I'd been shooting at Gabe's or another established venue, I never would have gotten either of the shots that I posted above, as I wouldn't have needed to approach my lighting in a way that dictated it. Now that I've been forced into a situation where these shots were necessitated, I can take the ideas from this show into others, and hopefully use these thought processes to create images with more dynamics, interesting lighting, and character.
Thanks for reading.