Second attempts are always interesting because they prove something about you. Did you learn from the first time?
This series of photos with my friend Thomas Lynch (a.k.a. T.L. of M.S.P.) was my second portrait session, and I think it shows that I did learn from my first attempt with Cindy Morgan. I think it also bears noting that the lessons learned from my first band portrait session with Blue James Band earlier that same day also plays into this one. Does that make this my third portrait session?
Thomas and I worked together at THQ Wireless. Normally, my policy for photographing people from work is to not do it. If something goes wrong, there is a strong potential for problems at work too. It's just good policy. So why did I relent here? Thomas knew it was so I could get some practice shooting portraits and the expectations were low to begin with. He was helping me out, I was not selling him on a service. Had I been doing this for any sort of payment I would have needed to be operating on a much higher level than I was at the time.
I had not yet converted my garage into a full studio space at this time. I called it my studio, but it was really just a bunch of things I had cobbled together as DIY projects to simulate a studio space. My toolset was still rather limited, but I was trying. My backdrop system was a huge piece of burlap and a frame of PVC pipes. It could not stand on its own and needed two people to hold it up while we shot. Thomas' girlfriend and my wife took that chore while he posed and I shot.
We did the shoot in my driveway with Thomas facing west so I could shoot in 'natural light' and I could get what I had read about as 'golden hour'. I did not know exactly what I was doing, but man did I try to make it sound good. In hindsight, I think I had a basic grasp of the things I was trying to use in my shots too. While none of these shots would ever qualify as my best work, I think I got some good shots out of the session.
After we gave up on the backdrop in my driveway we drove around Burbank, CA looking for some locations to shoot in. I had a brick wall in an alley I was particularly excited about using, and we did. We also went to the North Hollywood subway station and tried to shoot in there but got kicked out by Security after about 2 minutes of shooting.
I don't think any of these shots were ever used for promoting Thomas or his music, but I had a lot of fun trying and it spurred me to purchase new equipment to make a better studio space to work in.
It's funny to say that the lessons learned from a shoot just a few hours earlier that day translated into a little better performance in this shoot. I was more focused, I gave more direction, I had more of a plan. I got more of what I wanted from it, even if it is not the best work I have done.
A final lesson from this day would be that a good shoot is not about the gear you have with you, it is about what you capture with the gear you have at hand. Sure, I had crappy DIY setups in my studio. I had no flash gear with me when shooting outdoors. Yet I still managed to take some good shots. These deficiencies taught me to be a better photographer because I had to learn to adjust to the things I did not know in order to achieve the things I wanted to do with the limited knowledge I had at the time.
I don't know that if I went back in time and did that shoot using what I know now if I would have done it a whole lot differently. I would have made some different choices in my camera, maybe added some flash to fill in some shadows and composed a bit differently, but I am not ashamed of what I accomplished. I learned from it, and that will have to be enough.
Enjoy the images below.