November 12, 2010

Michael at the Orchard

Why do I like this image so much? There are many reasons. I still remember taking it on an early summer morning at the Orchard at Altapass in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I was teaching a photography workshop there and Michael was one of our "students".

He was different than most of other students. Very quiet, with a glimpse of a kind, but detached smile, in his own world most of the time. As a former radiologist, he has always been close to photography .... but his photography world was very specific and his creativity developed in a special way. He would see faces in trees and dolphins in stone structures and signs leading to invisible access points. He had a gift of seing beyond the obvious.

So in that early summer morning, as I was gazing over the orchard trying to keep track of our students, I saw him walking the orchard road. Suddenly he stopped and put his doctor suitcase down. He stood as still as a statue for a minute or two and then he started mounting his camera on a tripod.

And suddenly, it struck me. That scene was in a perfect compositional and emotional harmony, and when Michael stepped into his own world, he became a part of what he was photographing. I could see myself in him as I was taking my own portrait. The experience was quite extraordinary and the shot is still one of my favorites.....

June 28, 2010

Portrait of Music Director John Herrick

I have started this "environmental portrait project" recently. I shoot creative and interesting people I know or my friends know. I do not focus just on the face of the subject, but I like to include its environment to get a better feel and understanding about the person I am portraying. It can be a workplace, house, studio, garden, backyard or any subject's favorite location.

Last week I collaborated with my friend, art director Matt Merkel and took a portrait of his friend - music director John Herrick. We met at his house early in the morning and I realized immediately, that John was a very kind and talented guy. We scouted his house and backyard, while having a cup of coffee and a nice conversation and we decided to use his beautifully lit screened in porch. John works on his porch frequently and his sassy cat often accompanies him there, resting on a glass table. So while I was setting up my equipment, Matt added some props as musical instruments, sheet music and he moved chairs to make a better composition for the shot, as we had discussed earlier.

We started shooting with a camera on a tripod and John in different scenarios - drinking coffee, making notes, playing flute - and I observed the cat on a glass table very carefully. So when it moved close to John and "stroke a pose", I was ready to capture it. We kept shooting for a little longer and used a nice sculpture of the Buddha in the background, instead of the cat, just to have more options and variations to choose from later.

After the shoot we packed everything up and talked with John about his house as a great source of inspiration and wonderful place to work and rest. Then we said goodbye and headed back home, where I worked hard on the images, while discussing several versions with Matt online. Finally I decided the version with the cat is the strongest one and I will use it for my portrait portfolio.


April 8, 2010

Blooming Peach Orchards, somewhere in South Carolina, U.S.A.

I was invited to join my friend photographer Kelly Culpepper on his project dedicated to orchards in South and North Carolinas. Peach trees were in full bloom, so we decided to take a trip down there.
After a little scouting we found one orchard with a small group of people working on pruning blossoms. We got out of car, set up the cameras and started shooting.

We started with overall shots and then came closer. The people were a little surprised, they did not know what was going on, but stayed friendly and focused on their work.

After a couple of minutes their boss approached us asking if we had permission and what exactly we were doing there. Kelly explain to him, that he has been coming there to shoot for many years and mentioned the guy James we had met there before. Unfortunately James was the owner of the competing farm, which we were immediately informed about. Fortunately as the conversation grew, it loosened up a bit and when the "boss" realized it's not any official business, he let us shoot freely.

We continued shooting more images with and without people in them.

Then we decided to take a little break and went for a cold drink to a nearest restaurant. When we came back, we choose a different orchard and shot images in and around it as well. After the dusk we came back home to Charlotte.

Next day I worked hard to edit the images and to get them ready using Adobe Lightroom. I used only basic adjustments and some panorama stitching in Photoshop. Then I used the Web module of Lightroom to produce a web gallery and to upload it to my server. Here it is:

It was a great little adventure and I am looking forward to take more photographic trips with my friend Kelly.