If you’ve spent any time around me while I’m looking at my work, you know I’m a self loathing photographer. It’s rare that I get excited about making an image. I usually see all the flaws in my work.
Recently, I’ve made a few frames that I enjoyed. There was something that made them stand out to me. And for the most part, the flaws that I saw were tolerable.
The first was a basketball portrait. The player, Hunter Hill of Byron High School, just broke the assist record for the school. I spent some time before heading out to the assignment thinking of how I’d shoot it.
My creativity ebbs and flows. So when I’m feeling less than creative, I have no shame is asking my coworkers or photo editor for ideas. While I was busy trying to figure out how to illustrate an assist without having him actually passing the ball, my editor made a great suggestion. Use the net.
I tend to always have a basketball in basketball portraits. I never have the net. He suggested having the player up on a ladder with his upper body through the net. I’d then step back and shoot with a longer lens. Was it different? Yes. But not something I really wanted to do with this kid.
He then suggested I switch the roles. Why don’t I go up on the ladder and shoot through the net? Bingo. Use the net as a frame around the player.
So I got to the school, the coach grabbed me a ladder, and I got to work. I only had a short time to be on the court because the girls team was warming up for a game.
The ladder wasn’t quite tall enough. You know those steps at the top that say “THIS IS NOT A STEP! DON’T STAND OR SIT!” Well, I was standing on those, leaning about two feet out to the rim, and shooting down through the net with a 16-35mm lens set at 33mm.
I had one light off to my left, up high with an umbrella. There was another light on the right, a little behind the player, without any modifiers.
Here’s the resulting image.
The clean, orange background really helped make the image for me.
The next shot came from an assignment that had potential to be my least favorite assignment ever. A cat show. I’m highly allergic to cats. They make it very difficult for me to breathe. I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to shoot if I couldn’t breathe.
The first thing that popped out to me was the judges individually inspecting the cats. It was hilarious.
I tried to shoot from a bit of a distance. But I knew I wanted to get right up front and shoot wide. I waited until one category was done to ask a judge if that’d be a problem. He welcomed me right up front as long as I wasn’t blocking anyone’s view.
The judge had an articulating light mounted to the table to help carefully inspect each cat. I took a few cats worth of time to figure out how to best utilize that light or position myself to avoid it.
Then he picked up a cat. And stretched it. I almost started cracking up because I found the whole thing so bizarre.
I made a few images and waited around for the next cat. Shortly after, a lady in the back asked me to move so I didn’t scare her cat. While almost laughing again, I gladly backed out. I had no idea competition was so fierce in cat contests. Anyways, I knew the stretching cat was the best image I was going to make from that position.
I know I’ll find something to hate about these images soon enough. But for now, they’ve got me pumped.