It is football season across the country, including the youth of America. I was at the local sports park photographing my favorite soccer team (U14 SVFC Green) and could not resist taking some action photos of the stars of the future. Just another reminder that I should have my camera with at all times and that there are so many opportunities to capture that special moment for people.
I am lucky in so many ways, but I am not going to bore you with telling you about the many things that I should be grateful about. Just one, I get to live in Colorado.
With our recreational opportunities, climate, arts & culture, abundance of good beer, affordability, beautiful terrain, the quality of life of a Coloradoan is hard to beat. Since life can get so busy and at times overwhelming, I need to remind myself to get out and smell the roses, or sunflowers in this instance.
I have heard the rumors that down by the Denver International Airport fields of Sunflowers are planted. I decided to try my luck one evening and make the trip to go Sunflower not to satisfy my inner Vincent van Gogh but to take advantage of where I live.
I have always taken first day of school photos of my kids but it is usually in a hurry as the new routine has thrown all of us off kilter. That being said, I look at the hundred of photos that appear on my Facebook feed of other first day of school photos and wonder what’s the purpose? Is it to make the kids feel special? Is it to document that they went on the first day? Is it to share with friends and loved ones? Are we ever going to print those out and actually save them as a keepsake? Do we just like taking photos?
There are over 300 million photos loaded to Facebook everyday. There are a billion photos of Instagram. It is estimated that we have taken well over 3.8 trillion photos to date. I would imagine that most of those have and will not see the light of day. The person pressing the button even thinks they are rubbish. However, others see pass being our of focus, have the date electronically imposed on the picture, the squinting eyes, the unevenness of the lighting, …, they just see their loved one. I admit that I have devalued the services of others and have tried to cook a five course meal (maybe three) because I have a oven and stove but I realize that certain things take talent, education and experience to be done right (or at least better than I can).
This year I decided to be deliberate in my first day of school photos and even put out an invitation to friends that they could come by and take advantage of my passion, knowledge and experience. No strings attached.
I was surprised how few came over but with so many photos being taken, most people do not value a quality picture versus a documentary snapshot. Photography has become a commodity for most.
For those that did come over, they appreciate the photos, have asked for prints, have indicted they will not be ordering school photos and that the photographs will be displayed in their home in some manner. I guess that is one small step…
I decided to ask a friend if she was willing to be my model for the day. As I tell my kids, always ask the question as the worst that can happen is hearing “no” and the best that can happen is you get what you want. Guess what, she said she would be honored.
While dawn is the best time to shoot, it was supposed to be a relaxing day for the both of us so the early morning was ruled out. We also had plans with our respective significant others (sister and brother, yea that makes her my in-law; or as we like to think of ourselves outlaws) later that evening, so sunset was out too.
So we headed up one of the local canyons looking for some interesting and shady spots. We first stopped at a stream with a few accessible boulders. While I did a bit of relatively low impact landscaping, the spot was not absolutely the best. I ended shooting on a timer so that I could run over and block any dappled light that fell on her face.
Later, w headed up towards RMNP but since I forgot my park pass, we started to headed the other direction towards Nederland (we then could loop around to Boulder). Pulled to the side of the road by a small aspen grove and noticed a trail heading down the embankment. I never found out where it eventually headed as it appeared to be a stopping to indulge as there was a nice collection of beer cans scattered around. While she was not a professional model, I imagine it was a lot like working with one as she was easy to pose and actually moved into various poses quite naturally.
We decided to grab something to eat, which ate into any remaining time we had but I had a great and relaxing day, got to know someone a bit better, and got some photos that I like. I’d buy that for a dollar everyday.
Watch out, you might be next.
I love photography and unfortunately sometimes life and all its demands create an imbalance and I do not get to spend enough time on personal projects. So last week, I actively looked for photography opportunities in the area.
I saw that the Longmont Rhythm on the River was happening and they had a Hot Air Balloon launch scheduled for 6:30am. Well, I did not awake immediately to my 5:45 am alarm and found myself lying in bed at 6:15 contemplating whether I should get up for “one stinking balloon”. However, I looked outside and saw some wonderful clouds so I decided to throw on some shorts (appreciated by many) and head on out. I did make it down shortly after 6:30 and I am sure glad I did.
Upon my arrival, there were at least eight balloons in various stages of being inflated in a very small area. I spent most of my time following two balloons that were touching each other on the ground as well as when they headed off.
As I followed those two balloons, a small girl next to me said, “Hey, Mom those balloons are kissing”.
What a perfect way to start a day – with a kiss.
I have been actively involved in Boy Scouts ever since my son joined over eight years ago. I have seen so many wonderful things and understand the “true” impact that Scouting has on our future. I also believe in the organization so deeply, that I see that I will be involved in some manner for the rest of my life and the organization is even in my will.
Thus, I have decided that if any young man earns the rank of Eagle, I am willing to take their portrait and provide prints celebrating their wonderful achievement for free. This week, I was fortunate enough to do my fourth session. As a reminder to those unfamiliar with Scouting (besides the media portrayal), to cap off the many requirements to earn your Eagle Badge, a Scout is required to plan, develop, and give leadership to others in a service project helpful to any religious institution, any school, or community. Between, these four young men, over 500 volunteer hours have been donated to the Longmont community. Thus, my gesture is small compared to the impact these young men and the Boy Scouts of America is having on the community.
I also get a kick out of seeing the Scout’s and their parent’s expression when they see the final product. With the proliferation of cell phones, digital cameras and social media outlets, everyday moments are captured by the millions every second. People do not care about what goes into a good picture such as the framing, the depth of field captured, background clutter, the use of negative space, or even if the picture is in focus. The last one drives me crazy as some of the pictures I see memorialize life events such as newborns, graduation and once in a lifetime family gatherings. For such events, I not only like to post them to my particular social media outlets of choice but I actually get them printed out, framed and displayed.
Many of these events have required such hard work and dedication that they deserve better than an out of focus photo with the wrong date stamped in the corner. So, if you or someone you know has achieved something that should be properly documented give me a call and we can work something out.
The other night, we were wasting time as a family and flipping through the channels and I stopped at the reality show, The Moment hosted by Kurt Warner. The premise of the show is to give people a second chance at their lifetime passion/dream. This particular episode centered on a women that wanted to be a sports photographer but gave that up due certain life challenges that were presented her.
During the show, my son asked me what magazine I would like to shoot for but I could not narrow it down to just one specific magazine. At the next commercial break, I stated something along the lines that while I would definitely want that opportunity to shoot for SI but what I was truly jealous about is that to prepare her for her opportunity (one of the premises of the show) is that she got a world class mentor that help “prepare them for an opportunity of a lifetime.” Two weeks of intensive training would be great opportunity and worthy of being jealous.
Thinking about that for the last couple of days, I realize in today’s world of abundant information, I have no excuse not to get better, get mentors, and advance my craft. So, after watching my daughter and son’s soccer game, I decided to stay for the next game, take some more photos, and take advantage of my learning opportunity at hand. Here are some of my attempts to take advantage of my opportunity of a lifetime (to do something I love)…
While I love being a photographer, I do not like the way I am captured by the camera. Like most people, I see the 10 extra pounds (who am I kidding, it is more like 20lbs) and I don’t like my chipped, coffee stained teeth and crooked smile. However, due to a quest to get better at my craft daily, I take quite a bit of self-portraits. Your probably thinking to yourself “Yea but Grey, everyone takes self portraits, evidenced by the infamous holding the camera out front with one of your arms pose.”
You are right but I capture a deliberate photo that is thought out, well lit and in focus while most photos taken today are a blurry snapshot that merely provides evidence of being somewhere at some point in time. No offense intended but there is a difference, especially in the years to come.
These are some Easter photos that I took Sunday. While the weather was quite nice, nothing has started to turn green so the traditional “Spring” photo will have to wait a week or two.
If you want and I would argue that you need a portrait that you will cherish for years to come, give me a call.