Tag Archives: portraits

Portrait shoot – Svetlana

I had a great time doing a quick shoot around Coeur d’Alene with local model Svetlana. We started off by the lake and worked our way through the downtown area. I had a chance to set up some off camera lights at the end of the shoot for a a few photos that turned out pretty rad. Svetlana was awesome to work with! Looking forward to my next shoot with her!

 

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Kevin + Janessa – Maternity Portaits

The last time Kevin and Janessa were behind my lens they were tying the knot (view their wedding blog post here). I was thrilled to hear from them that they have a little one on the way and would like to have some maternity portraits taken. I was real happy with the shoot and Riverfront Park in Spokane, along with the downtown area provided some real nice backdrops to work with. Thanks Janessa and Kevin for giving me the opportunity work with you again, and congrats on becoming parents soon!

 

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Drew + Maegan’s Engagement – Colbert, Washington

Drew and Maegan wanted a country feel to their photos. And I think we accomplished that.

 

Wheat fields, horses, and golden light made for a pretty awesome engagement session with these cats. I can’t wait for their October wedding in the same vicinity we did the engagement shoot!

 

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15-35-58: A street photography project.

Well, I’ve embarked on my first-ever photo project – A mix of old-school film shooting, street photography, and some strangers.

 

The project, entitled “15-35-58,” is a collaboration of portraits taken of complete strangers in the downtown area of Spokane, WA. The 15 stands for 15 portraits, the 35 for the 35mm film and the 58 refers to the 58mm lens they were all shot with.

 

The camera used was a Pentax K1000 – my favorite 35mm film camera I’ve ever laid my hands on. The film was Kodak Ektar 100 – my favorite film.

 

And the lens was something special.

 

I used a Meyer-Optik 58mm f/1.9 screw-mount lens that was made in Germany in the 1950’s. It produces very unique bokeh (the out of focus areas) when shot wide open (which is how I took all the portraits).

 

The setup (clockwise from top): Pentax K1000, Meyer-Optik Görlitz Primoplan V 58mm f/1.9, Kodak Ektar 100

 

 

The idea of approaching people at random to ask if you can take their picture is something that will never cross most people’s minds – even most photographer’s minds. But I wanted to push myself. I wanted to break outside of my constantly-expanding comfort zone and try something most wouldn’t consider. Plus, I find people to be the most interesting subjects to photograph, by far.

 

The approach is simple — a quick introduction, followed by the purpose of taking the photo, concluded with the all-important question – “So, can I take your photo?”

 

Contrary to what you might think, the response was overwhelmingly positive. Not only did all but a couple people (who were in a hurry) comply, but most also showed a genuine interest in the project and in photography in general.

 

Quick conversations were sparked and a mutual respect for the project was felt and (hopefully) conveyed in the final images.

 

I learned several things too.

 

I learned just how easy we have it today compared to shooters of the past. Manually focusing, manually advancing film and manually turning knobs and rings to adjust your exposure puts a whole new set of challenges on shooting photos.  Not to mention never seeing the photos until they’re developed.

 

But it also gets you in the mindset of making each shutter click count.

 

Still, doing everything manually — particularly focusing — leaves more room for operator error, which I saw my fair share of. If you notice, there are 15 final portraits. I shot a roll of film with 36 exposures – you can do the math; there were some mistakes.

 

Simply focusing a few inches off from the subject’s face results in much reduced sharpness. All of these shots were taken in a timely manner – sometimes in a matter of a few seconds before the traffic light turned green or the subject’s bus arrived. I chose to shoot film because the more compact camera size is much less intimidating than my larger DSLRs.

 

Self-portrait in a window reflection.

 

The project validated the idea of everyone being a different, unique person, with different looks and personalities.

 

But there’s one thing that really stuck with me.

 

So often we look at people and judge them by the way they look, sometimes thinking less of them due to their appearance. But the reality is, no matter their looks, they’re still people. I approached all sorts of individuals from all sorts of backgrounds with all sorts of personalities. Not once did I feel any negativity towards the project or myself. Nobody acted bothered by me (The guy flipping the bird wasn’t directed at me, just a pose).

 

Despite what someone looks like on the surface, under their shell there’s likely a decent person, and that’s what I enjoyed most about this project — getting to know the people, even if only for a few seconds.

 

And now that I look back at the pictures, I can make a link between the photo and the person I made a quick connection with. And that’s what I enjoy most about this job.

 

P.S. If you were one of the subjects and would like a copy of your photo, email me at mike@mccallmedia1.com and I’ll shoot you over a copy.

 

My next project I’m planning is inspired by Dennis Darzacq. Look out.

 

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Mixed Bag

It’s been a little while since I’ve put up a blog post, so this one’s going to cover a few things.

SHOOTIN’ DOWN LOW

First off, I did some baby photography. Pretty fun actually. It’s not often you get to do the majority of your shooting lying down flat on the ground. I tried to get down to the level of the six-month-old girl for most of the close-up shots.

Photographing a child who doesn’t talk, or really understand why a camera lens is pointed at its face, is a whole different game than your typical portraits. It’s very reactionary and allows for quite a bit of freedom. No fake smiles, just pure, honest expressions.

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MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ME

 

In a world dominated by Canon and Nikon, I’ve been one of the select few photogs not shooting either of the big two. Up until now, I’ve shot with Pentax DSLRs, and with pretty good success. Really, several manufacturers make very capable camera equipment. However, I’ve reached a point where I feel I’m outgrowing what the brand has to offer and have moved onto Canon.

The main factors that pushed me to switch were the Autofocus systems, lens offerings, and lack of a full-frame camera by Pentax. The Pentax AF system is sluggish and sometimes inaccurate. This is not acceptable when you need to grab shots quickly — often shots that pass by in mere seconds and are never replicated. The full-frame sensor is a factor that provides generally better image quality all around along with more creative control over the image. Lastly, Canon offers an array of glass for their cameras, where Pentax has rarely released any new lenses, leaving the older ones scarce and very expensive, even when bought used.

 

Cameras are really just tools to produce pictures. No matter how great or expensive the gear, it’s still the person behind the camera who makes the image. As the great Ansel Adams once said, “The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.”

 

Buying this gear ties into another point I’d like to make. Many people have a misconception that photographers have an easy, fun job where they just go around taking pictures and making tons of money. Truth is — yes, we do have a fun job. But it’s surely not easy, and the average photographer’s wallet isn’t all that fat.

 

The cost of the equipment I just purchased totals approximately $5,000. None of it is brand new equipment either. If one was to buy all brand new, latest professional gear, with a variety of lenses, you could easily blow $15-20k without blinking an eye. One thing you find out in this business, is that you pay for quality, and quality isn’t cheap when you’re talking camera gear.

 

Add on top of this costs for insurance, web hosting, camera maintenance, business cards, advertising, etc. And it becomes a wonder some of us even stay alive! Many don’t, actually, and are forced to sell their gear and go another direction. You truly have to be on top of your game to make it in this industry, and I feel extremely fortunate to have made it thus far.

 

When it comes down to time spent doing jobs, actual shooting time pales in comparison to time spent behind the scenes. A freelance photographer must be their own accountant, marketing/PR person, advertising agent, (in my case) web designer… The list goes on and on. Not to mention for every hour shooting there’s a good three hours spent editing. In other words, a six-hour wedding session can easily result in nearly 20 hours of time editing!

 

So, next time you think a photography business is a money tree, think again. It’s a dog-eat-dog world, yet I can’t imagine doing anything else. It’s hard to describe, but there’s something about it that keeps me determined to keep plugging away at it, no matter the obstacles.

 

INTERESTING DAY IN SPOKANE

Today was no ordinary day in Spokane. There was a crowd of people mobbing down the sidewalks offering “free hugs.” There was a large protest outside of Chase Bank, complete with chalk writings on the sidewalk and demonstrations outside the entrance.

 

There were also three dead fish laying outside of a sushi house — well, three people dressed as dead fish, although there was little clothing involved, mostly just mermaid-looking fins and body paint.

 

PETA coordinated the demonstration against the consumption and catching of fish for sport outside of the entrance to Sushi.com restaurant downtown Spokane. A few feet away stood anti-protesters, including Spokesman-Review Columnist Doug Clark, handing out fillet-o-fish sandwiches from McDonald’s – saying things like “enjoy the protest with a free fish fillet!”

 

It was a bizarre, comical, interesting event, and, as I’ve been making an effort to do lately, I had my camera gear with me and started snapping away and talking to people. Things like this remind me why I love journalism — there’s always something new — something that you get to be responsible for showing to the public.

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NEW PROJECT
The last thing I’m going to bring up is a new project I’m challenging myself with.

 

It’s entitled “50 Faces at 50mm.” I’m interested in what’s called street photography, and I want to put together a collection of 50 portraits shot of strangers with a 50mm lens. It will be a challenge, but I want to briefly talk to the subjects and really reflect who they are in these pictures. I’ll put up an album on my facebook page and add to it as it goes along. When the project is complete, I’ll put it on my website.

 

Sometimes it’s easy to just kind of stay in a rut and not try to better yourself. I want to always be working on something like this to better myself through new challenges. Stay tuned for my progress on this endeavor.

 

 

 

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