Theme shooting or self assigned projects or editor assigned projects can be a lot of fun and yield interesting results if you are open to a challenge. I had forgotten what the rush of getting an assignment and having a deadline to meet felt like especially when I have gone out and absolutely nailed it to the mat with what imagery I produced. This is what happened last week and the resulting imagery.
Well, as the title suggests, there are a couple of ways to take this on knowing full well what was expected, images of canines enjoying the last days of summer and the like. I am not one for always playing with conventional ideas, so I went in search of another twist on the subject that would have the same level of impact as what was intended in the title. Oddly enough, I had the movie and Al Pacino stuck in my head with things just not going quite right and well that was the imagery that I went in search of. In my race against the clock, I stumbled upon a scene that was just too good to pass up. I came a cross a woman in distress who had three policemen come to her aide. It was as simple as her vehicle not starting. The issue I faced is that little issue of photographing police officers while on duty… well I knew I had to get the shot so I set my camera to literally be able to raise it to my eye, frame and shoot then move away without being noticed or hassled. I got off 2 frames and moved away wishing my LCD would hurry up and show me some good news. As I literally moved around the corner, I felt a sigh of relief as what came up on my screen was exactly what I saw and wanted to say about the day. This was the first image and the time was T-minus 46 minutes to deadline, I managed to pull this off in 14-minutes, I was feeling like good things were going to happen.
As I walked literally 15 paces and turned left, I found the most beautiful light and I saw shadows, lines and a great exercise in composition before me. I did what any photographer would do… braced myself against a wall as tightly as I could and shot 6 frames and continued on with my assignment even more fully charged than I was.
I found some canine and well looked for interesting looking things about them to make me drop down on the sidewalk and shoot at eye level with them… being a dog lover, I was not quite inspired to do what I knew everyone else would be expecting, so I went with it throwing myself into the “spirit of things.” I got a few good shots but I heard the words of my Photojournalism mentor start up in my head… “If you got a good frame, look around you for the next one—an even better one is going to be there.” This is what I found standing behind me.
The most profound thing for me was that even with A Dog Day Afternoon kind of theme, there is always, Always a bright spot that will absolutely melt your heart and often it is right around your last shot if you just look for it.
After getting the City Hall shot, I felt pretty good but something said there is more to this light than this shot alone and I heard a voice from my past saying “ Keep pushing!! There is always something more!!” Eastward I marched still with 35 minutes left until my hard stop time to make my deadline. By this time, I knew the light would be perfect on a spot I knew about and I thought about taking a chance on possibly making something happen and has it would turn out, that was the correct gamble. As I approached the location, the light was perfect but nothing was happening. The more I paced the front façade, the less I discovered. However there was an image waiting for me.. Here is what I presented to my editor.
I was given a task to go out and make a photograph with the subject being people. It had to be a compelling image and one with impact. I was given a timeframe and a deadline of an hour to make it happen. I figured, no biggie. I am in downtown, I’ve got great people skills, let’s do this. Off I went out into the world to create an image that would make a statement or was I looking to impress myself as well as my editor? I’d say that it was a healthy combination of both.
I knew the light was great so I ran out with two camera bodies one with a short lens and one with a telephoto. The first thought was to look for a “no flash” corner– an area where there is surrounding light that is reflected into the shooting space that beautifully illuminates the subject completely and yet it is about as much the quality of the light as it is the wonderful usage of light onto the subjects. I found what I wanted but there was something else that was calling me so I walked another 3 blocks east and found myself at Dallas City Hall.
I lined up my initial shot on the stairs and flag poles in front of City Hall then it hit me… this may not work as well as I see in my head because there was no wind to bring life into the flags, just the lingering Texas heat that was not only sitting in the air but radiating up from the light concrete.Then I looked to my left– a group of joggers coming… greatness!! As the runner crossed into my frame, I decided to wait until I could not see his face because this would translate into anonymity will allow for a viewer to see themselves in the moment. I thought great, but it did not sit well with me as the jaw dropping image.
I looked to my left and saw a city bus arriving to offload passengers I did not stare or pay close attention but I did hear the sounds of hydraulics and I realized there were multiple riders egressing the vehicle. I looked with intent and saw two people moving my direction; one in a motorized chair with both legs amputated, the right one above the knee and the left below the knee—a woman. The second person was a man walking 4-7 paces slowly ahead. The woman in motorized chair was moving backwards through my frame. Interesting.
The image screamed to me.
So I was in the right place with the light, the shadow, the composition and then the subjects to pull it all together. The lesson I lived is that go where you are pulled or pushed and do what you know to do, then the rest will happen for you.