Aug 13, 2011

Portrait of a Man

Nikon D700, 400mm f/2.8 VR lens, f/2.8, 1/400s, ISO 6400.
You may wonder why I post pictures from the fair, or the rodeo, or a rooftop in Saudi Arabia; aren't I a portrait photographer? Shouldn't I be showing you portraits so that you'll buy portraits?

The fact is, I'm a photographer. That's it. Anything with light on it falls under my purview, and anything with good light is likely to be photographed. I happen to be passionate about this stuff, though, and I'm also passionate about relating with people, so portrait photography is a good fit for me and I love it and it pays the bills (important for me, since this is my full time profession).

Still, a guy's got to stay on top of his game. I'm not as fortunate as doctors who get to 'practice' medicine on real people and that is totally acceptable. Nope, when I have you in front of my lens, I have to be ready to make things happen right away, and it's unacceptable for me to practice on a client. I have to know my equipment, know what will happen when I fire the shutter, and know that you will be pleased with the results.

That's why I go to the rodeo. We love pictures of us being natural, doing our thing, not too 'pose-y'. Well, as my friend Patrick Oden taught me, if you ever want natural expressions and true character to show through, do sports photography.

Cowboys, however, take it to the next level. This dude, for instance, is about to help a compatriot by steering a steer out of the chute so that it runs straight and the guy can wrestle it to the ground. (Note: rodeos are not for the tender hearted; both man and beast are beaten up pretty hard--though man certainly takes the brunt of it) Something about grabbing life by the horns....

Anyway, one minute he's helping a buddy, the next he's in the chute himself preparing to leap off a horse going 30 miles per hour onto a bull doing the same and drag it to the ground. By the way, these guys don't buy their jeans at Old Navy.

Nikon D700, 400mm f/2.8 VR lens, f/2.8, 1/400s, ISO 6400.

This reminds me of a few things relating to photography, as well. If you think photography is easy, then I should shoot more like you. For me, I have a lot of sweat into every shoot I do. First of all, I'm carrying about 20 pounds of lenses and cameras on my person, and my pants pockets alone weigh about a stone just with batteries and gels and memory cards. Next, I'm likely to lie prone on the ground one moment, climb a tree the next, and finish off by squatting up and down about a jillion times as we make pictures--and that's of mature adults. Don't get me started on a kids shoot. So, this work requires a certain level of fitness and flexibility. I'm still sore from a Swiss Family Robinson Shoot we did on Thursday!

Take a look at that first picture again, and then take a look at this next one. (Click on an image to make it larger)

Nikon D700, 400mm f/2.8 VR lens, f/2.8, 1/400s, ISO 6400.
This guy is older than me, and I'm turning thirty something this month. This takes guts and determination at a level I completely comprehend. He puts his all into these five seconds of riding, and he's all in every time he gets on a horse. Is he nuts? You bet he is. And that's why he wins, even though the other contestants are younger and more spry.

I get that. That's why I shoot the rodeo. That's why I shoot the roof tops in Saudi Arabia. That's why I shoot the food my wife and I eat at the Tandori Oven. That's why when I join you on vacation, or you come into my studio, or we work in your home, or we shoot you doing what you love--anytime we make a picture I'm ready because I've practiced to be so. When I get a fast steer, or one with stamina, or one that's too tall, I'm ready. And if you think that's a parable of me working with your kids, you're right.

Let's make some pictures together. Bring me your worst. I'm ready.

Oh, and I recently bought my first pair of Old Navy Jeans--love 'em, but they're not holding up to the rigors of my life. Sigh.

Click on the tags below for more pictures of various styles and places. Then call me up and we'll make it happen for you. Oh, and if you know the cowboy in these pictures, please put me in contact.

1 comment:

  1. Great post Levi! I think a passion for photography doesn't start or stop with one type. As a matter of fact, I haven't found a type of photography that I don't like, yet! Great action shots, too!