In the beginning of December, Brendan and I sat down with a goal in mind. We wanted to figure out a motto for the New Year - a motto that would keep us driven throughout 2016. After a lot of thought we came up with a simple concept: GOOD PHOTOGRAPHY MATTERS.
So, what is good photography and why does it matter? Over the next few blog posts we are going to explain what goes into making good photography that truly matters.
Today, I am going to give you the run down on how we go the extra mile to produce good photography that matters. To demonstrate this, I will start with an image from a photo shoot that we did this past August for the Toronto Raptors.
Sometimes you can create a photograph that feels like such an authentic moment in time, that the hours and hours of pre-production that went into creating that image are completely overlooked. Although it might feel like your hard work has been undervalued, I actually see it as a job well done.
It all starts with a concept. In this case, the client wanted to see “a couple of farm boys playing basketball during a fall day in a rural setting”.
Lets just take a second to deconstruct that sentence….
“A couple of farm boys playing basketball…”
This was the easy part. We immediately started casting for models/athletes that were a) able to play basketball b) available for the time frame we needed them.
Once we secured our 3 models, we coordinated with them where they needed to be and what type of wardrobe we needed them to bring. It was a hot and humid August day, but we needed it to look like a cool fall day. So, these poor guys had to play ball all day layered up in sweats, long sleeves and toques.
“…during a fall day in a rural setting”
The client was thinking golden wheat fields, but it was early August and the fields were still lush green. So I needed to think of a way to easily portray this in a photograph.
My in-laws live on a farm 45 minutes away from Regina, so that was my first thought. I was already familiar with their property, and I knew they would likely let us use it. Once we had permission, we scouted the location to see what needed to be done in preparation.
I knew the location could work for us. There was a concrete pad next to an old building. The yard was full of grain bins, old wooden buildings and an aged barn; a classic farmyard. But even better, their yard was enclosed by trees, which meant the green fields would be hidden. However, as you can see there was still much work to be done.
First, we had to make sure the junk pile was removable. I offered to take care of this during the day of the shoot with my team, but my father-in-law was kind enough to clean-up majority of it before we even got there. We also had to make sure that the tall grass in the foreground was mowed.
Next we needed a basketball hoop for them to play on. This shot was full of aged character, so it would look odd if the net was a shiny brand spanking new orange hoop with a clean white net. I tried asking around if anyone had any old beaten up basketball nets, but I had no luck.
So what did that mean? It meant buying a shiny brand spanking new orange hoop with a clean white net. But, with a little paint, coffee grounds, a knife and some skills with an angle grinder, I put 40 years of wear and tare on it in 40 minutes. I finished it off by making a backboard from a scrap piece of plywood and giving it an “antiqued” coat of white paint.
Next on the list was food. Normally, I would let a catering company take care of that and buy a few snacks. However, since we were out in the country it was up to us. After taking into account everyone’s dietary restrictions, I had to make a meal plan for the day, as well as take into account that we would be working in the heat all day. Not to mention, the guys would be playing basketball for 8 hours in toasty fall attire, therefore I needed to make sure everyone was well nourished and hydrated.
We had been shooting all day and had already created a bunch of great shots - but this is the one I had perfectly engraved in my mind and was most excited for. I decided to add some farm equipment and vehicles to the set to dress it up a bit. I also brought along our hazer to add some atmosphere to the shot and create the illusion of a hazy Saskatchewan harvest sky. The haze also worked great to help separate the foreground from the background.
The models were dressed, the concrete pad was cleaned, the grass was cut, the basketball net was hung, the set was ready and everyone on set was hydrated and fed. We just had to wait for that perfect golden light. Once the sun started to set, we only had a really small time frame to get our shots. And just like that it was over.
The parameters of good photography go far beyond the final produced image. It is all of the hard work, planning, and attention to detail that pulls everything together and allows that one perfect moment to be captured. Good photography is going the extra mile.