Places & Spaces is my attempt at a 52 week project. When selecting this project I wanted to make sure that I displayed my growth as a photographer, not only through my images though, I also wanted to include the non-technical side of things, the scouting of locations, the networking, the directing and most importantly the planning. So many non-creatives never factor in the other aspects of this business, and as new photographers sometimes we don't either.
I'm still working on my introduction for this project, for whatever reason I feel inclined to backtrack and let you all know what the project is about. Perhaps because I never really wrote a separate blog explaining the project... Either way, I don't want it being week 52 and I'm still going on a tangent of why Places & Spaces is important to me. Just know that it's going to really display my growth and bring this blog a larger crowd.
I really love this project, it really gives you a behind the scene look at what it's like to become an up and coming professional photographer. We always hear about the success stories, or the failures, but it's rare you get someone who documents the in between moments, it's something I would love to read, so I hope you all are enjoying it.
Beyond a journalistic standpoint the project is extremely stressful, it gives me a perspective on what working full time would be like, but at the same time it isn't very gaugeable because my subjects aren't necessarily clients. What I mean is that the people I have modelong for my ideas are friends or random people I meet, they aren't individuals who take this craft seriously, that results in a shit ton of cancellations, which interferes with my creative process. This wouldn't be the case if these people were paying and placing deposits.
Last week I updated you all on my Places & Spaces project, looking back at a months worth of photographs left me unimpressed. They lacked personality, they lacked creativity, it wasn't the growth I expected when I first planned this project.
Then I thought to myself, "It's only been 30 days". I'd be ignorant to think I'd be the master of natural light and portrait photographer in 30 days, especially shooting through the winter. However I did want to revamp things, this project was suppose to put a stamp on who I am, or at least help me come close to finding who I was.
Despite last week's hiccups and an introduction to a few new projects (you'll be hearing about them soon) I've still managed to keep my 52 week portrait project going. This week I reached out to Melissa Niemasz via Facebook, I use to work with her at a mortgage company and thought she'd be a perfect addition to the series. My message was very vague, something along the lines of "Hey would you like to shoot?", she agreed, but like any normal person she wanted more information...
This has probably been the worst week of my adult hood life, so many things happened, ones I don't care to explain, and others that deserve a good rant. One of the more prominent issues was my camera breaking on Monday, it was a tragic event. I'll probably have nightmares about it sometime in the near future, sounds funny but I'm so serious. It left me in distraught, it was my dream kit, and it's no longer with me, my XF 56mm took beautiful portrait pictures, almost effortless and now I was left with just my Fujifilm X100T.
2 months already... insane, it's been a wild 60 days. I've learned so much over the course of these 7 shoots, I'm not quite sure if the education has transferred over into my final images, but in due time. I've had 2 things that are really holding me back, for one, the cold weather. It's legit freezing outside, and I'm not the most prepared shooter when dealing with these conditions. The other complaint, well the models I'm shooting with aren't aspiring professionals, now I understand when I shoot people for money they likely won't be professionals either, but one of the benefits of this project was to build a profile, and through 8 weeks I haven't been able to do so.
The Places & Spaces project is getting more and more complicated as the weeks go on. I've hit the stage where I'm done asking my friends to shoot random portraits with me. Moving forward I want to do something a little more planned, and risky. I want the photos in some way to help people, rather they be creatives, or just someone who needs dope shots to further advertise their business. My thought process is that once they see how quality images reach a bigger audience that they'll come back hoping to shoot in the future.
This week I had an idea for a Winter styled yoga shoot, it wasn't an original idea, I was inspired through instagram and later Google, but I still thought it would be dope. I had a few people I reached out to, but no response. I did everything through social media, and maybe that's where I'm failing. I need to get out more, especially if my idea is based on businesses... Why not visit the businesses? Questions I wish I would have asked myself earlier in the week... You live in you learn I guess.
Ahhh proud to have internet again, had some issues that Comcast couldn't figure out and after a week or so it was just because a cable was loose in the basement... But I won't complain, after all I did receive free Showtime and Starz for 3 months, so it wasn't a total let down.
Now I could've went to Starbucks to upload this, opposed to having it a week late, but I wanted to wait until my internet was back up to write about my Places & Spaces series, partially because Week 10 was a total let down. If you've been following every post, you can see I wrote a lot about it here.
For those who didn't click the link, the previous post ended with me having an idea of why my notoriety of a photographer has fell off over the last few months. I figured out that I lost a personal human element that everyone was accustom to on my instagram.
Finally a project that actually went according to plan! Week 11 of the Places & Spaces project was one I was nervous about, I didn't want another week to go by where someone canceled, or the weather prevented me from creating, I needed to fulfill my that void, that void to create. And thanks to Korie, I was able to do so....
Slow & steady, typically the terms used when discussing yoga. It's a practice that not only subdues you physically, but mentally as well. I needed to gain that control within my photography, not let it take over, but instead relax me, both physically and mentally.
When I originally reached out to individuals about shooting with me while posing for Yoga it was cold outside, a lot of snow, wind, just overall harsh weather, but I wanted my pictures to convey a different message, that this harsh weather, or these obstacles shouldn't stop one from being at peace with themselves or their goals. Unfortunately after a barrage of cancellations I wasn't able to capture this imagery, instead I had to settle for a less subtle approach, the woods.
Now the woodland like scenery may not cast off the message I initially wanted...
Railroad tracks are one of the most cliche places to take pictures in photography, the leading lines it offers are too easy to capture. They say it's not creative and it's been over done, but who says photography always has to be hard, intricate or complex? I think people over think, and tend to forget about the emotion that railroads can produce. And emotion is exactly what I wanted from this shoot, I wanted the viewer to think who is this person? I wanted the pictures to tell a story, but not one that everyone would quite understand, a story that had an alternate ending based off the viewers life experiences.
Instagram might be my new best friend... Who would have thought scouting via the social media platform would result in me being able to actually shoot someone every week. When I started this project I thought people would be flooding my inbox, but I now see that sometime if you want something, you have to start the initiative. Every day I've been reaching out to people to see if I can help them in any type of way, most of them have their own business, starting one or just need professional shots to better their image, so in a way I feel like I'm helping the city, not just taking random pictures.
If you've followed the blog since its inception then you've seen Terrell's name before, he's the reason I own a camera, the first person I've known to actually do something and not just talk about it, and he's been inspiring me since we were kids. Terrell may not know it himself, but he has a way to get you excited about something, when we were kids we partnered up to sell candy to kids throughout our school, I would've never done that alone, but he made me believe I could. Wedding photography... I probably wouldn't have done that alone either, but I feel confident in myself knowing he's there to help me. I guess in some way I feel comfortable because we share the same "Big Picture" vision, we've always wanted the same things and together we've always found a way to make it happen.
It was the last day of my project week (Tuesday 4/21/15) I had just came from a workout and I noticed I was losing light. Another week of failure I thought... Everyone was to tired from the previous night's activities (4/20) I assume, because those that I reached out to never responded. As I walked into my apartment building I saw a friend of mine get on the elevator, I figured why not... I went with a lazy pitch, "Want to take some pictures?" waiting for her to let me down easy. But, as you can imagine, the opposite happen, she said yes, she informed me that she had to go change and apply make up and she'd be ready in 20 minutes. Awesome right?
Nastashia Young... Probably one of the only few people that I would consider a model in my city, now obviously I don't know them all, but something about her tells me that she takes her passion a lot more serious than the other who pose in front of the camera. It's more than Instagram likes for her, it's her career, her future, and she is determined to make it happen.
When I first met her she told me that she was building a portfolio, and that the pictures she had accumulated thus far just weren't to her standards. That was a strong statement to me, it made me rethink my portfolio and ask if my pictures were "portfolio worthy"...
When I quit my job I wanted to live my life as a full time photographer, I haven't reaped any financial benefits from it, but I've definitely taken on the lifestyle and workload. For the first time I had to cancel a personal project of mine because I was too busy... Honestly on a personal level this sucks, but on a professional level I guess this is a sign of some growth? As stated, financially I haven't seen a major increase, but my level of work was backed up due to countless shoots, I've had far more pictures to edit than normal, and with the weather being beautiful I've found myself outside for a longer period of time, this all resulted in a shorter office day.
Throughout the week I've attended several entrepreneur workshops, really taking my focus off photographing and more into building my brand and business...
Catching up with my work has still be a struggle, but after missing last week's Places & Spaces session due to my own absent mindedness I decided to make sure that this week was a priority! Now I'll be honest, I didn't make this decision until late in the week, but I was determined to find someone who wanted to shoot, not just to help me, but because they liked the idea of being in front of the camera, and respected good quality images. Initially I drew blanks, I didn't have anyone in my contacts that fit this description, so I took it to social media. I scrolled down my timeline hoping to find someone that caught my attention, but to no avail.
It was May 2nd that this all happened, and I decided to postpone the search of resourcing talent till the next morning, after all the Mayweather fight was coming on and I had to prepare myself to be as drunk as possible. That happened... fast and I found myself uploading countless snapchats, it wasn't until someone responded that I had a lightbulb moment. This person was going to be perfect for the shoot. Without hesitation I asked, and we scheduled something that following Tuesday.
Last week's shoot with Uribi really had me pumped, the way I documented that got me excited about photography again, excited about the warm weather, and the possibilities that I didn't have in the beginning of the year when I started this project. In less words... my confidence is higher than ever. I went back to week 1 and then week 19 and while I'm not satisfied with my look, I at least see that I have one. When I reach out to people I think they see that too, because the response has been better than ever, it went from me reaching out to friends and family and getting negative responses, to me reaching out to complete strangers and having them say when & where... It's exciting.
Instagram has become my new best friend, it makes everything 10x easier, and connects you with people you may have never seen again. A few weeks back I attended The Fashion Massacre event in Downtown Detroit, there were 6 brands there and a plethora of models. I left only handing out one business card, but there were several people who struck my interest. So what did I do? Simply searched the hashtag from the event and I was able to reach out to each person individually with an offer to shoot with me.
Working with different people has it perks... They know other people, naturally "models" hang around other "models" so working with one can result in working with them all. That's essentially what happened this week, I didn't do any scouting, nor did I had any ideas for a shoot, so when Alyssa recommended me to her friend I was very appreciative. I remembered here, not visually but she was at the Fashion Massacre I had attended a few weeks ago, I didn't notice her at the show, but after reviewing the pictures I saw that I had snapped her a few times candidly.
Her look was different, not like unique, but different, in every picture I saw, some she looked older, while others she looked really young. Her most recent one was from an agency, and though the picture wasn't the greatest I noticed a lot of strong features that I could utilized.
It feels good when things are clicking, I knew that this spring/summer would be a big year creatively for me. I was determined to make this year about growth, and though it was rocky in the winter, I knew everything would slowly start working out for me. I'm not to the point where my schedule is booked, or people are willing to throw tons of cash in my face to book a shoot, but people are watching, and I am getting noticed, now I just have to capitalize on that.
I had to figure out what exactly this project lacked, and after asking a few honest friends I realized that it was creativity. Sure the portraits were good, but there were no true concepts, no stories being told, nothing for the viewer to hold on to. I need to create a spark, add some depth and make this project memorable! It was time to get inspired and I hope this same vision can carry over throughout the remaining weeks of this project. So what was this weeks inspiration? Believe it or not it was a photo from Kat David.
Finding men to participate in my Places & Spaces project has been one of my biggest challenges, see when it comes to men I like to not only focus on modeling, but fashion as well. I think it plays a big part in the final part of the image, gives the shoot an edge, or a look it wouldn't otherwise be able to illustrate. And if we're being completely honest I guess I can say it helps cover up any lack of experience the model may have. as the apparel becomes the focal point.
When I came across Diallo, I was impressed with his style, as well as his posing techniques. His look is definitely original, and he embodies his style, you can see it in every shoot, you can tell he did his research, and you can also tell that his unique style is something that is true to him.
Consistency, consistency, consistency... For the last 6 weeks I've been pretty consistent with my project. Things have been going great, I've seen growth in both my photography and my communication, so I'm happy this is working out as planned.
WEEK 26!!!! I made it to the halfway mark (technically there is 53 weeks in 2015, but whatever). I'm super excited, I thought the first time I missed a week I would have ditched this project, but for whatever reason I've persevered and stayed with it. Over this time period I've grown so much... I'll save all this for a separate post though. Let's get into this weeks shoot.