The shot: Forward
I was planning a new shoot with a couple of designers in Seattle. I knew their designs had a vintage look, so initially, I wanted to shoot something very much like the artist Alphonse Mucha, but that didn’t seem terribly interesting (just aping a famous artist).
One of the designers owned a hearse. What other kinds of odd vehicles I could feature in a series? I put a note on Facebook concerning unusual vehicles. Lo and behold, one guy in Seattle tells me he has a canoe. Turns out, the owner of the canoe is Truman Buffet, a photographer on ModelMayhem I met via Craigslist of all places. I had previously posted on the Seattle Craigslist “need chicken for model shoot,” and Truman responded in the affirmative (and yes, we did shoot with his chickens in a previous concept).
The fun thing about props in general and vehicles in particular is that they offer obvious scenarios for the model to interact with them. The fact it was a two-seater canoe owned by a gentleman who was an actual photographer made it really simple to come together.
To retroactively describe the concept in better detail than “designers, vehicles, and Mucha,” I’d say we were aiming for a fun, vintage, Sunday stroll vibe—the kind of vibe that inspired all of those French impressionist paintings. I have all these points of reference stuck in my brain all the time, and luckily I ended up working with people who all have a similar vibe and enthusiasm towards making fun and positive art.
We went to a local Seattle park with the canoe (it’s common for people just to canoe around parks I suppose) and models Sierra McKenzie and Laura Jean-Marie. We shot some on dry land, and I took a few more shots at low angles and down into the canoe, but it was pretty obvious that the boat needed to be in the water, and Truman and I needed to be in the water too. He held a Nikon SB900 and reflector, and I took the shot with my trusty Nikon D700 at 1/100 @ f18, ISO 100, using a 24mm lens. The models couldn’t truly move since it would displace where the light was aiming, so I only got a couple frames before we called it good.
This was all processed in LightRoom with a preset I created. Except for some clean up it took about 1 minute.
For those unfamiliar with Adobe LightRoom, the program comes with preset filters much in the way Instagram or any number of other programs or apps do. These are simply “recipes” for a where all the settings go– exposure compensation, color correction, addition of vignettes or grain or clarity or whatever.
One way LightRoom is super cool is it allows you to import presets or design your own; distinct editing styles unique to the creator can be saved and applied to an infinite number of images. The overall style of a photographer is a blend of concept, shooting style, processing and presentation. I know that the subjects I shoot, plus off-camera speedlights during daylight, plus this particular LightRoom “recipe” is how this kind of photo gets made.
It’s always been a favorite of mine and I’ve heard Sierra say it’s one of hers. It just makes me feel good to see it.