Senior Photos

Look Out World

Michaela is a dancer, so I knew many of her photos would feature dance in some way. I’ve found dancers to be terrific models – they take direction and can do almost anything you can envision with their bodies.

Urban Ballet

We met up downtown to do some photos in an urban setting. There is something cool about a ballet pose on the streets or sidewalks.

Model Shot

The setting also provided some nice backdrops for a more traditional image. But she gave me looks which bring some emotion and help draw you in. All I have to do is light it and snap the shutter!

Hairborne

We also did a few photos in a park/garden setting. I was having her do some jumps for me, saw her hair flying, and said, “let’s take some shots with her just swinging her hair around.” She liked the idea, and I really like how this worked out.

The Ballerina

Michaela’s mom had a photo of a ballerina she wanted to more-or-less replicate. We shot this downtown in the daylight using what I guess you’d call a concrete planter as the seat. The sun was below the surrounding buildings, so I was able to easily light her to get the effect we wanted. It’s definitely a photo that wants to be black and white.

Jayke James Dean Look

Jayke is also a performer – singer, actor, and now, dancer. He wanted something different, something a bit edgy and definitely urban. I was actually surprised to find an alley with some graffiti in Rochester. Nothing like I saw in Ybor City in the Tampa area, but still usable with some good doorways and nice brick walls.

Chillin

This sort of setting is really fun for shooting portraits. It’s easy to see possibilities. With a willing subject, the ideas just roll.

Leap!

Jayke brought plenty of ideas to the session, too. That was especially true for the various dance positions he wanted. I wanted to shoot him doing some jumps, so he obliged me and did a variety of leaps for me.

Contemplative

I knew from the outset I’d want many of these to be black and white. I was happy that Jayke is fond of B&W and knew I could approach this shoot almost like a personal project.

Window Shot

We did have an occasional pedestrian or car to deal with. They might have wondered about what we were doing. Taking photographs, I guess, was pretty obvious, though!

The Italy Trip

Atop the Duomo of Milano

Lynne and I traveled to Italy for our first visit to this amazing and old country. We began our trip separately, as Lynne attended a retreat in the hills north of Rome, while I headed to Milan to attend the Italian Grand Prix Formula 1 race. It was my first Formula 1 race and one of those on my bucket list.

Milano Duomo

When arriving in Europe, it’s usually morning and your objective is to stay awake until around normal bedtime. After I landed in Milan, I made my way to the central train station and, from there, my hotel. The hotel was about a block and a half away – convenient for arriving and departing, but also for traveling the short distance to Monza, the site of the race. I was able to check in early, then I headed back to the station and took the subway downtown to the Duomo area.

The Milan Duomo is an old Gothic church. It’s an amazing site, and their museum across the piazza was great. The top photo was taken from atop the church – lots of opportunities there for great black and white photos.

Bank of Electric Cars

Small vehicles rule Europe. Milan apparently has some sort of electric car deal going on. It reminded me of the bikes-for-rent things here.

Milano's Stazione Centrale

The central train station, Stazione Centrale, was build during the 1930s by Mossolini – it’s grand and spectacular, a symbol of the nationalism that serves as the hallmark of fascism. It was hard to capture in a photo, and I never did grab a shot of the exterior.

Racetrack and Park

I arrived in Milan on Thursday before the race. The cars start running for practice sessions on Friday. Qualifying is Saturday, and the race is Sunday afternoon. There were a couple trains to Monza per hour – although I didn’t figure out the second one until Sunday – and they offered a special deal single ticket per day good for the train ride plus a bus from the Monza train station to the track, Autodromo Nazionale Monza. The track sits inside a huge park. It’s historic – built in the 1920s and served as the home of nearly all the Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix. It’s where Mario Andretti watch races as a teenager. (Mario is amazing – he’s won the F1 World Championship, won the Indy 500, won Daytona.)

From the bus drop off, you have a good mile walk to the track. Once inside the track boundaries, I had another mile or so to get to the stands with my seat. On Friday, I wandered around the track. It really is a park with park-like paths, some wide, some narrow, some paved. The back part of the track is surrounded by woods. There once was an oval track with severely banked turns. Those concrete banked sections still exist. The current track runs under them in a couple places, and the roads/paths also drop below them here and there or run alongside these old sections. They haven’t been used in decades, but they were featured in the James Garner film, Grand Prix.

Fernando Alonso

The home team in Italy is Ferrari. They also have quite a history and have raced in every Formula 1 world championship. So, you see lots of red Ferrari gear and flags all weekend. The Italian Ferrari fans are known as the tifosi, and they are everywhere. For this race, I joined them. They’ve had a few tough years and unfortunately had some troubles in the race with Alonso having to retire his car. I did manage to grab a decent shot of him in his Ferrari. Panning as these cars fly by at close to 200mph is definitely a trick – one I’ve not quite mastered!

Italian Grand Prix's Winner, Lewis Hamilton

Each day, Friday to Sunday, there were more people at the track. I figured it would be lighter for practice on Friday, but it’s surprising how many people come out only on race day. Besides the F1 race, there are support races with the GP2 and GP3 open-wheel cars – many up-coming young drivers may well drive F1 some day – and a Porsche class. So, there are things going on on-track throughout each day.

At the end of the Grand Prix, the fans jumped the fence and scrambled to get a glimpse of the podium ceremony. It stands out over the track near the start/finish line. By the time I got close, most of the ceremony and interviews were done. I was somewhat behind the podium and someone’s huge Ferrari flag on a 30 foot pole kept blowing and obscuring the view. But before winner Lewis Hamilton left the podium, he turned and held up his trophy and grinned to those of us in back. It was great, the flag dropped for a moment, and I had a shot. Thank you, Lewis!

Venezia, Italy

On Monday after the race, I headed to Venice where Lynne and I were to meet up. Since I was only a couple hundred yards from the train station, my trip was fine. Arriving in Venice, I just had to make my way to our hotel from the Venice train station. This involved riding one of the vaporettos, a water bus. Venice is a collection of islands. There are no cars, no scooters. The only bicycles I saw were being ridden in a piazza by children. So, you take the water bus or you walk. Often, you do both! After stepping off the water bus, I had a bit of a walk which wasn’t particularly far but involved crossing three bridges. With suitcases, this isn’t terribly fun.

Venezia, Italy

Lynne’s travels were not as smooth as mine. That’s an understatement, but she did make it to Venice on Monday. I had checked in and wandered about waiting to hear from her. As I walked through the narrow streets and across countless canals, I kept thinking, “I wonder if I’d ever be able to find this place again?” Maps are hugely important in Venice. It’s so easy to lose your way, although by the time we left, I at least had a pretty decent idea how to get around the area surrounding our hotel.

While there, we actually found out some friends we haven’t seen since we left upstate NY in 1992 were also in Venice, and we arranged to have dinner together. It was an incredible happening, and it was fun to catch up with them. Sometimes, it really is a small world.

Firenze Duomo

I really loved the uniqueness of Venice. But we soon left for Florence. Lynne had already had a bit of a tour of downtown Florence on her trip from the country to Venice. She in fact took a train from Florence to Venice as the final part of that trip.

Florence is a beautiful city with tons of great art including Michelangelo’s David. This is an imposing sculpture, 17 feet high, and it’s incredible. After viewing many sculptures from ancient Rome to others from his time, there is something just different about his work. David’s face, in particular, had a life and expression others do not.

Florence has its own Duomo with the largest dome of its time, quite an engineering feat. We bought Firenze Cards which get you into many of the sites in the city and also let you skip the long lines. We jumped to the front of the line entering the Duomo, but didn’t realize until we walked inside and saw stairs that we had found the entrance to walk to the top of the church. That was over 460 stairs. I’m sure the many miles I walked at the racetrack, around Milan, and in Venice helped me make it up there. Lynne managed to make the climb as well. The view of the city was great. We later traveled across the river and up the hill to the south of the city center for another remarkable view.

High View of Firenze, Italy

From on high, you can see that the city lies in a valley surrounded by hills. It’s rather spectacular.

From Florence, we headed to our final destination, Rome.

The Coliseo in Roma

In my head, I feel Milan and Florence had a similar feeling to them. Venice was different, of course. But Rome felt mostly just big. Walking the streets of Rome was akin to walking through Manhattan. Except in Rome, vehicular traffic runs on different rules. Maybe, you could say, one rule: Stay mostly on your side of the street. Lanes are something made up on the fly. There didn’t seem to be many if any lane markings. And, like much of Europe, motorcycles and scooters just go wherever there is room.

Crossing streets can be a trick. They do seem to stop for pedestrians in marked crosswalks, but you have to be clear you really are attempting to cross. And some streets are so big with so much traffic, I’m not sure I’m brave enough to attempt crossing even in a crosswalk. We managed our way across one roundabout more by finding the place with the least traffic and an island of parked buses.

Foro Romano

There is much ancient to see. I think the Coliseum was particularly noteworthy. The nearby forum was pretty amazing, too, and it appears that archeological digs are still active. To think back to the times these places were built and the amazing civilization that existed, amazing building that took place – it’s all rather hard to envision.

St. Peters in Vatican City

Nestled within Rome is the smallest country in the world, Vatican City. We took a guided tour of the Vatican museum which ends in the Sistine Chapel. I really didn’t realize how much artwork resides there nor the breadth of it from ancient Rome and Egypt to modern. Once again, I was blown away by Michelangelo’s work in the Chapel. You can then walk into St. Peters where his most famous Pieta resides. It’s so unfortunate the security that’s been needed to protect this sculpture after someone broke Mary’s hand off with a hammer. I saw it much closer and pre-damage at the New York Worlds Fare as a child with my parents. I still remember that experience.

St. Peters in Vatican City

St. Peters is quite the cathedral – huge, beautifully decorated. And, at least by American standards, old. The plaza in front of the church was filled with platforms and seats. We were there on a Tuesday. On Wednesday, Pope Francis would make his usual appearance.

My grandparents immigrated from Italy, and my mom and her relatives all considered themselves Italian. Not Italian-American, although that would be the term today. Just Italian. She never made the trip to Italy. I think she was never fond of the idea of a boat trip across the ocean or, later, a plane trip. I thought of her a lot during my time in the “old country.” Maybe more so in Vatican City. I think she’d have loved to see that (and to see the pope).

I certainly want to travel to Italy again. Next time, I’d like to go south to Foggia and to Roseto, birthplace of my grandparents. Hopefully, that will happen some day. Meanwhile, I have terrific memories and some decent photos!

The Odd Couple at Summerset Theatre

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I shot The Odd Couple at Summerset Theatre in late July. It was the finale production for this summer season.

Neil Simon comedies are always interesting, and I tend to think of them as a day-in-the-life style. We have a single set – Oscar’s apartment – in which all the happenings happen.

OddCouple-0243

The general story is familiar to anyone of my generation since it formed the basis for a TV show of the same name. The TV show brought with it some of the characters from the play.

Many scenes feature the whole gang of friends as they try to deal with Felix and his angst. This made for some cool photographic compositions with everyone leaning in and reacting together.

OddCouple-0245

Sometimes it’s difficult to find an angle that shows all the faces, but that’s often a problem shooting live. Still, it’s not usually something to get hung up about.

OddCouple-0257

Other times, everyone just comes together and make the photo for you.

Lighting was not particularly challenging here, as most such plays are more dialog driven and don’t really need – or want – a fancy lighting design. As the photographer, I can pretty well set my exposure and go. There are some hot and cold spots on the set to be aware of, though.

OddCouple-0281

Being dialog driven, you have to look for the interesting photos. You find a lot of time folks are sitting and talking. But the moments are there. Some happen quickly and you might or might not catch them. Others, like the guys surrounding Felix, holding a wet towel to his head, all looking, offering their support and concern, just build in front of you. You see it, frame it up, and you have a favorite shot from the evening.

OddCouple-0354

I mentioned the leaning in. That can make such a difference in a still photo. Our brains interpret this for the interaction it represents. We sort of feel it. Lean them back and the energy totally washes away from the image. It’s really remarkable.

I can’t believe summer is nearly gone. Another season of Summerset shows is done, the Fridays on the patio at RCT are done, and Labor Day is two days away. But, that means RCT’s season is about to begin (the first show is RENT, and it opens soon), and Riverland will be working on their fall semester shows soon. I have all that to look forward to!

Lindsay and Brad

Ladies All Ready

I had the great pleasure and honor to photograph the wedding of two of my favorite people last month. We know Brad and Lindsay from theatre – where they met. They are gifted actors and incredible friends.

An outdoor wedding was planned, and while July tends to be warm and dry here, you just never know. We had rain early in the day, then it sprinkled on and off. They decided to let me shoot the portraits in the park before the ceremony. When the rain stopped, we headed outside, but I asked one of the bridesmaids to grab an umbrella just in case.

Brad's First Look

We needed it briefly, and the timing worked pretty well. Lindsay wanted Brad to see her and her gown for the first time that day, so I took Lindsay out first to photograph a few portraits of her and her attendants then had Brad come out for their meeting. Brad walked up just as the little sprinkles ended and she dropped the umbrella. Brad had this look on his face pretty much the entire day.

Together

That was it for the rain. The cloud cover gave me some terrific lighting which I supplemented here and there.

A Terrific Couple

Things would ramp up soon with lots of family and wedding party photos, but at this point, it was good to see things were coming together nicely. They could enjoy a relatively quiet moment.

Lindsay and Dad

The ceremony approached, friends gathered, and it was show time. The clouds gave way to sunshine, so I was glad we had chosen a fairly shady location for the ceremony. Some additional fullness to the tree canopy would have been nice, but we work with what we have!

Vows

The shade also helped the attendees avoid the July sun as the couple exchanged personal vows and make it all official.

Parade Chicken Dance

Brad and Lindsay have a connection to New Orleans, so there was a running NOLA theme including a fun parade of the attendees from the park setting to Rochester Civic Theatre for the reception. Leading the way was a three-piece band playing a bit of jazz and, at one point, the Chicken Dance. It was very fun!

The Parade

It was certainly the first wedding I’ve attended to have a parade.

LP and the 45s

What has also become unusual for weddings is a live band. They had the band LP and the 45s provide the music for the evening. They grace the patio stage at RCT several times during the summer, and many of the folks at the wedding – certainly the theatre crowd – know and appreciate their renditions of ’50s and ’60s rock-and-roll. (They always draw big crowds to the RCT patio!)

First Dance

After a Johnny Mango catered dinner – New Orleans style, of course – the band kicked things off with the couples’ first dance.

Cake Cutting

Prior to the wedding, I watched Lynne assemble edible magnolia blossoms (the Louisiana state flower) and lace and then build the wedding cake for the event. It turned out great and was probably the best tasting wedding cake I’ve experienced!

Leslie and Mallory

The festivities then kicked into high gear. Even Leslie – the keyboardist – was able to dance a little.

Partying into the Night

The sun set and the party continued.

What a Day!

Weddings, no matter how well planned, have a way of bringing surprises and challenges. I’m sure there were moments that weren’t as expected or desired (there always are), but from my point of view, it was a wonderful day, two amazing people were married, many, many guests shared the day with them, and everyone had a great time.

Lindsay

Their photographer had a great time, too. I had many opportunities for taking fun photos, they were very open to suggestions, and I got to see two good friends tie the knot. It doesn’t get much better.

I wish them all the best in their future together.

Anniversary Gig

Becca and Jared

I had the pleasure of photographing a wonderful couple a few weeks ago on the occasion of their fifth anniversary. They had this fun idea of dressing up in their wedding clothes, creating a bouquet and boutonnieres, and having a couple of their close friends tag along, then having me photograph them at home and at various places around town.

Like a wedding, we had some time constraints – one of their party had to leave town. So, we shot at literally high noon. Not the ideal time of day for photography, but I told them we’d make it work. While trying to make them look their best, I also tried to keep some hints of where we were. The shot above is in front of their home, so I intentionally left the somewhat distracting window in the shot with the brown siding to add “our house” to the story.

Framily

We made a few photos at Rochester Civic Theatre, three of the four of them have performed on its stage. There’s a fun shot of them on stage, but after we got that shot, I suggested having them sit in the house seats. One of them played off that and said, let’s all have different expressions reacting to what’s on stage. It worked great! I love collaborating with performers.

Friends

A few shots in a park by a fountain were also on the agenda.

Come Along, Jared

We set up several shots to highlight their relationships with their friends.

Kiss

But fit in a few showing their relationship with each other.

A Terrific Couple

They are a great couple. Their love and respect for one another is so very apparent.

Continuing the Journey

I thoroughly enjoyed being their photographer for the occasion. I wonder what they’ll cook up for their tenth…

 

 

 

Brian DeMint Program at SMNPPA

DeMintDay-0019

Our local professional photographers group, Southern Minnesota Professional Photographers Association, meets monthly with various programs, usually 2-3 hours. This month, we brought in Brian DeMint (see his work here) from Missouri. Brian brings a background of painting to his photography, shooting rather ingenious looks and adding his artistic interpretation in post.

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We had a full day of presentations and shooting with two fabulous Minnesota models, Molly Olimb and Brittany Bueckers. Brian’s wife, Dena, provides the hair and make-up. The event was at the studio of Sonja Miedtke, a country home with beautiful grounds, buildings, and various props perfect for portrait photography.

Molly Olimb

When there are lots of photographers shooting a model, one needs to try to find something a bit different. I tend to be drawn to faces – I gravitate toward closer, more intimate shots. I also played with a technique I learned at Photoshop World in Atlanta. Model shoots like this are a perfect place to play with new ideas.

Brittany Bueckers

Brittany Bueckers

Once I had found a few photos I liked, I pushed a little more in post than I’d typically do. If you’ve seen my personal projects, you know I have no problem opening Photoshop and letting its tools fly. But my general portrait work tends to be more subtle. But with a nod to Brian, I let these images speak to me and guide me onward.

Molly Olimb

Molly Olimb

I was rather surprised to find a couple photos, one of each of our models, that just wanted – or, maybe, had – to be monochrome. In fact, the photo of Molly above was the first photo I really put any effort into, and it just said monochrome. The treatment I used actually left a smidge of color, but I think the processing fits the mood of the photograph.

Others just wanted color and lots of it. The red dress was fabulous, and it was amazing against the greenery.

Brittany Bueckers

Brittany Bueckers

It was a terrific day full of ideas and inspiration. And mosquitos. But, hey, this is Minnesota, so there will be mosquitos!

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