Large Florida Panther Held by a Beautiful Girl
Florida Panther and Beautiful Woman
Jay Maisel is, in my opinion, perhaps the greatest living photographer. I am honored to know him. Jay is a fantastic teacher, a wonderful person, has a great sense of humor and shares major tips on becoming a good photographer in his workshops http://www.jaymaisel.com/workshop/. The photographs I have posted are to a large degree due to his teachings. One of the main things (I think this is rule #2) Jay speaks to is “going out empty”. This means going out with your camera with no preconceived ideas or concepts. Just being free to allow what is in your field of vision (in front, behind, above and below) to ignite something inside of you, to investigate and follow the story.
I set out one morning just letting whim guide me. I drove from central Florida (Ocala) to the west coast of Southern Florida just before the Everglades. A small zoo popped up on the radar that was about the endangered Florida panther. I stopped and took some photographs through the cages. The crusty old owner comes out of the office/house and asks for a donation. No problem a donation for a good cause. We strike up a conversation and he starts telling me about this woman who keeps a full grown panther in her house. He gives me her phone number. I call her and she, for a price and a few prints, is wiling to pose with the “cat”.
We met at her house the following day. I walk in the front door and there is this “cat” the size of a large dog on the couch looking directly in my eyes. I can feel him questioning my interaction with the woman -am I perceived as a threat-? . CHECK PLEASE! While the girl was very good looking and I knew I wanted her in the shot with the cat, I forced my mind to be neutral about all guy / girl things… if you get my drift. Everything is fine, I’m a punk, couldn’t hurt a fly, I have 4 kids, don’t rip my throat out… PLEASE! please!
I know this cat could take me out in thirty seconds or less. Dead, toast, end of story. The girl and I talk about the “cat” and about the ideas I have for the photograph. I end up with her in a red bathing suit with the cat on a leash (yea like that matters) sitting on a local dock. Using a 180mm tele to keep my distance, I managed to photograph the panther and the girl including the vertical for a magazine. Even with the cat on a leash I was worried the entire time. We worked around sunset and you can see the color balance change or I used a polarizer… This was exciting, unexpected (going out empty) and I was glad to get the @#!* away from the cat. Meow.
The Beautiful Outlaw
Colors evoke emotion. The advertising companies know the colors that evoke those emotions. Here is an example. A headshot of a model, the same headshot, very close to the same expression but the color of her hat and bandana are totally different. I could have had her eye expression more angry. I should have asked her hold old she was or what did she think of her x-husband and just held the shutter down.
Obviously these are set-up or planned photographs. I picked out her as a model including her hat and bandana. What started this was a visit to a used clothing store in Santa Fe. She owned it. I could have spent a week and a bunch of money there making not taking photographs. Model release is really important here.
Good light will help anything look good. This shot was done at sunset with a model running back and forth in front of me. I took lots of shots. I was a little late to the party so by the time she got sweaty enough to look like she was really working out, the sun had gone down and the idiot photographer (me) left his flash in the car. No fill light. So it was in silhouette shot. . . ahhhh!
So know when the sunrise or sunset will happen. If you can afford it I HIGHLY advise hiring a model and try some setup shots. You need to plan this and know what your trying to get. It is also fun to pick out bright cloths for her/him and dress her/him for specific concepts you might have. Stock agencies love simple concept shots with room for copy. You need a model and sometimes a location release if the location is recognizable. The release MUST be exchanged with money or something tangible to really be legit. Don’t take advantage…. be fair.
For a long time I was in charge of my four ~carpet commandos~ children. There was always some problem… some sad song like; “Dad !!! Geoff put ketchup in my ear” At some point I changed my name to the Cheerio Roundup King. At some point I visualized a concept I call “I have heard all the sad songs”. I saw the image in my head and started putting pieces on the board. I hired an old friend (I have quite a few old friends) bought an old violin, shredded the hair on the bow and found a tux at a used clothing store. Black background, strobe with a grid, signed model release, some acting direction for my friend and the check to pay for his day. I learned a lot.
For a decade now I have listened to photographers and their stories about slipping shoulder straps. Cameras and lenses bouncing off the floor, falling off into the bay, in short driving them nuts. About 98% of photographers who use the UPstrap love it. I am happy I can help.