Photography A More Casual Approach

So I ended up shooting some images of my communities July 4th picnic. Typically my approach to any photographic project or endeavor is to focus on one subject and optimize for light and composition first then after that is covered I would more or less direct or construct the scene in front of my camera. You can probably see why I am not a landscape photographer with that kind of mindset.

This time I took a completely different approach and of course made completely different images than I would normally make. I took a far more casual approach. I directed nothing. I shot from a viewpoint of wherever I happened to be standing at a distance I happened to be at with a fixed focal length lens whenever something caught my eye. I tried not to even think about the light or repositioning myself for a better composition. I just put the camera to my eye and made the best out of it as quickly as possible. This is probably more along the lines of the way a street photographer operates. Completely foreign to my thought process.

At the end of the day I would have to rate my shots by any of my preconceived notions as complete failures. This is by my own internal set of criteria that I use when I look at an endeavor as a project shot for a client. Now if I back off that highly commercial set of criteria that I had developed for myself in a completely different context for a completely different purpose there are quite a few images that I do find interesting with no particular reason or rationale in mind. I do think that I will continue refining this approach but with a more coherent theme for some of my own projects that I have on my long list of things I would like to shoot.

I shot most of the shots on a Nikon FE in manual using an ancient single coated 50mm f1.4. Some of the images were shot on 10 year old, mistreated Kodak Portra 400 NC. Some on $1/roll Fujicolor 200

. A few of them on the Sigma SD14 with 28mm f1.8. Here are a smattering of random images that I found interesting. There are a bunch more - maybe better - maybe not. I have about 30 images flagged as interesting that I will probably live with for a while before I decide if I want to spend time doing a better scan and fixing the color and tone. These are the default crappy scans from Walgreens.

Something about this image intrigues me. In fact it continues to suggest a few different project ideas to me and even informs me on an approach to more controlled environmental fashion or lifestyle work.

I have a few different shots that generally have this same point of view and compositional elements throughout the day. Not sure why I find it interesting but I can tell you I would have never made this composition if I had a zoom lens. I know exactly what I would have shot with a longer focal length and it would not have interested me in the least but may have been technically more acceptable.

Love the bike at the beach. Love the way film deals with the 6 stop difference between the grass in the foreground and sunlit background. I massively overexposed the background as I metered off the grass that was under a shade tree. Shot at f2.8 if memory serves. Would have shot even shallower but was limited to 1/1000s with the 200 speed film.

Ya gotta love the looks of these bikers - don't think the boys club was expecting a girl to show up in their front line.

Love the curiosity of the little people

Even without proper color balance I cannot ever stop loving the way Kodak Portra renders skin.

This little girl was amazing - she changed moods from this to jubilant so quickly you wouldn't believe it. All day, either this or joy. Is this some sort of early training program that males don't seem to receive?

I spent the day relaxed and participating fully in all of the events and talking with the people around me, not in photographer mode. About the only thing I did in preparation or follow through is to have my camera with me. I did learn one thing - I brought too much gear. It was right down the street so I didn't carry it very far but once I got there the only thing I carried around was one camera with one lens. I might end up using my tiny little Domke FX5 for one additional lens, some extra film, and thats it for future endeavors using a more casual approach. I still think I will never be attuned to events as photographic raw material - I am far better focusing on ONE subject rather than dozens. I find it too confusing but I do thing some melding of my tendency towards a more focused approach from a subject standpoint along with a more casual working method may produce the results I am after.



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