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Monday, September 12, 2011

Escaping Monotony and Shooting for Yourself

Photo by Warren Workman
I realize it's been nearly three weeks since my last blog post.  I know this is unacceptable. I've got some nice behind the scenes and lighting videos just around the corner.  This summer has been busy with weddings, family portraits, and other film related gigs to where I just haven't had time to shoot for myself and do anything "just for fun".   Although putting all my efforts in attempting to run a successful photography business is my long term and lifetime goal that requires the majority of my time, it doesn't always provide the rewards and benefits a struggling artist such as myself desires.  This includes financial security and more importantly, artistic fulfillment in my work.  This can lead to frustration, loss of passion, and days that make you want to sell all the equipment and walk away from it all.

To escape from the loathes of day to day monotony, I've had the opportunity to work on several local independent low budget to zero budget films as a Director of Photography or Gaffer.  After all, motion and picture and still photography are very closely related and I take pride in titling myself as a Photographer and Cinematographer.  It's funny how many video guys are afraid of still photography, flashes and strobes while many still photographers are afraid of video and motion picture.
I am a hybrid and have bridged the gap that separates the two.
More images and reckoning after the jump...

Filming the Utah Flash Mob at the 2011 Holi Festival of Colors
Photo by Scott Jarvie

On the Set of The Last Time 
Photo by Amy Savannah

Every serious photographer outside of amateurs and soccer moms with cameras needs to understand the basics of obtaining a proper exposure manually, dynamic range and latitudes of cameras, and how to build and shape light.  Cinematographers do the same thing.  They use the baseline knowledge to obtain a basic exposure whether it be panavision film camera with 15+ stops of range or your run of the mill prosumer video camera.  With the advent of DSLR cameras having the capability producing decent video, the medium has forever changed.   Photographers and Cinematographers have slowly been stepping in to a new hybrid world.  DSLR's have even been used in production of some large TV series.
On the set of Zombie Prom
 A 40 ft. dolly track shot on the set of Zombie Prom

While I haven't stepped in to using a DSLR in my video production, the quality of video and performance in low light situations as well as the ability to capture a more cinematic look by obtaining a shallow depth of field makes them the biggest bang for the buck for amateur and independent film makers on a budget.  My only reasons for not crossing over to using a DSLR for video mainly lie within all the support gear needed to make them usable and the codec they record with.
On location for Zombie Prom
Photo by Rachel Jensen

Photo by Rachel Jensen
Regardless of what equipment may be hot at the time, be sure to take some time to shoot or film what you love.  We can become more susceptable to loosing our passion when we get stuck shooting our clients in the same locations and poses over and over again, day in and day out.  I love to shoot conceptual and cinematic portraits although my demographic has little to no market for this type of photography.  So I shoot weddings, families, and babies to help pay the bills and a keep a roof over my head.

After Filming the Utah Flash Mob at the 2011 Holi Festival of Colors
Photo by Jay Simmons of Midlight Photography

On the set of The Last Time. 

In my Basement Studio filming the pilot of our children's web series, Bad Arnie

An all-nighter during production of Zombie Prom

Chris Thompson evaluating my composition and lighting during production of Zombie Prom
Photo by Rachel Jensen
Chris Thompson and I holding the burned radio we used in The Devil works in Mysterious Ways
Photo by Kami Coleman

Preparing for a dolly shot during the 2011 48 Hour Film Project
Photo by Matt Thompson

And I certainly love shooting weddings, families, and children.  I love taking a bride and making her feel as if she and her images belong on the cover of a mainstream bridal magazine.  I love the reaction of parents as they see the completed images of their newborn child for the first time.  But now and then, I need a break to shoot an original concept "just for fun" where I can expend the built up stress and creativity that I've been holding in during the normal day to day photography I feed the monkey with.
In the end, hold onto your passion.  Take time to enjoy the reasons why you picked up a camera in the first place.  Shoot for yourself.

Director Thom Rockwell visualizing a shot in during production of Zombie Prom

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