I've been looking at a lot of work lately in between making work. I see some students making self portrait images and the idea of self has really intrigued me. I think some people are never themselves in front of the camera--always needing to pose, be the portrayal of themselves that they project for the camera. I think others try to be themselves, but the key word is try. If you 'try' to be yourself you're not really being yourself. Its slight difference from the person always posing. Then there are the rare folks who are just themselves and the record of them is genuine. I think I mostly try to be myself in front of the camera but never really think I make it when I'm making self portraits. There have been a few, but they are rare and even the successes I think don't quite make it. I always think I'm searching for the true portrait, but in client work, where the person isn't always completely happy with themselves, they want an image that represents an ideal of themselves. Its funny, I've grown accustomed to this over the last few years, but I still seek out that one or two images that I feel I really grasp onto something beyond a projected image. When I do get this it really stands out to me. SayerMotter Photograph by Richard Sayer.
I began to work on memory mate designs tonight for the basketball cheers. We did a cool shoot with fog machine etc... and I'll work up a design using those as well, but tonight this is what sorta came about. The smoke is neat, but it was unpredictable and I'm not sure if I really got one that will work. I also shot a chorus line type picture too that I want to try to work up a design for, but I'm afraid everyone will be too small to see their faces in that one. We'll see... I do want them to be special for these girls. This is the second year Meadville cheerleaders have gone with us. Coaches Pam in football and Wrestling and Coach Tammy in basketball are really great people and they get excited when I say I have an idea to try something...that makes it a little more fun. I'll tweak these a little tomorrow and try to get them done ASAP! SayerMotter Photography design and photos by Richard Sayer
We develop tricks over the years to get people to ease up in front of the camera. Many people are uncomfortable getting their photos taken, perhaps because someone is in essence - staring at you for extended periods of time, or perhaps we don't know how to act or stand---seems we forget how to be natural once that camera goes up. So in order to get people to have less tension in their shoulders and brows we try things like--just spin around, do it again, do it again---suddenly the person is laughing and perhaps a little dizzy. Another is--stick your tongue out. Now back in the film days when every frame cost money I might ask someone to stick their tongue but not take the picture(ok ok everyone who knows me knows that I still took the picture), but now its just fun and sometimes we have something fun to paste up on facebook. And what it does is amazing. Suddenly a laugh replaces an awkward smile and the uncomfortable tilt of the head becomes natural. Now I have been told no on this a few times. Some people just don't want a picture taken with their tongue out--thats ok, I've got over ways of making you smile! SayerMotter Photographs by Richard Sayer.
Between being on and off sick the last month and just buried with work, it has taken me until today to really begin to look through my shoot with the MASH basketball cheerleaders(if all goes well girls I'll be getting these done this week!) One of my favorite things about these seemingly chaotic shoots where we have to organize busy people into groups for shots and then figure out individual poses and a scheme for a style that we want to put forth is that I still think its important to laugh and have fun. When someone asks if they can do something I most always say yes--why not. I think if we try things we're apt to either get something way cooler or at least have a comfortable subject who is happy. Now sometimes its hard to make connections with everyone--I'm pretty sure some people just don't get, but overall I think they at least laugh along or perhaps at me and we end up finding the picture that works...at least most of the time. I also like the fact that I have a place like this featured picture of the day to share some of the out-takes that might not end up on the fridge(but maybe the facebook wall?). SayerMotter Photographs by Richard Sayer.
I do a lot of shooting for 'I might be able to use that' stuff. Fire is something I've shot a few hundred photos of in the last couple years thinking I could certainly use it in illustrations. About an hour ago it hit me that I had planned on using fire in some sports illustrations and why not try it out on Bingbong's poster. --then the task was--where did I file the pictures. I didn't find the specific ones I remembered taking for this ida, but did find some others and now I think I've completed his poster. We'll see--there is still tomorrow to change it. SayerMotter photography poster by Richard Sayer.
This year we added a 12x18 poster print to our order form. We have been making posters for folks for a couple years now, but didn't really know people would be interested in them for the yearly sports pictures. And so far the answer seems to be no...except for one order. We'll keep it on the form list for now, maybe people need to see a few before they committed to it. Its understandable. One thing we've heard over and over again is--'thats the way we've always done it' and the implication to that is 'that's the way we always want to do it!' Luckily we're finding out that with our subtle changes to the 'thats the way we've always don it' has been met with mostly positive reviews. We're hoping that our clients see that we're trying to craft something special for them. We feel an obligation that if people are giving their hard earned money to us, that we have to deliver a product that is worth that money or hopefully worth more than that money. As we do this longer we'll fine tune how we're able to provide our services... since we're still a fairly young company we find that we're constantly trying to be better. And we hope we are always trying to be better and not simply just performing a task 'the way we have always done it.' One thing we believe in strongly is, just because we're not NYC or Chicago or L.A. or even Pittsburgh... doesn't mean we can't have quality and bigger thinking. SayerMotter Photography poster design in progress by Richard Sayer
Below is with more layers--less or more layers?????
This type of studio prop was over-used to the point of killing it back in the 70 and 80's Virtually every studio had a big wicker chair. And we, our small little space that we rent, a converted showroom in an old garage that allows us to control light and store some of our gear without having to pack it up everytime we use it and bring it home to our closet, has this over-sized chair in it and we are actually using it. I don't know if we've really used it like it was used in the 70's, but I do like to shine lights through it to create mysterious lighting and shadows and a few times have used it as a chair itself to pose a client on. Janae had this red hair awhile back so I wanted to do a red on red picture of her for a client who wanted pictures of Janae with one of their quilts to use for another design for a quilt. We did most of the shots without the chair, but to give Janae a break from posing we did some seated shots. I have a shoot coming up in March and was thinking of using the chair in that shoot both as a chair prop and as a lighting element--we'll see. I am glad to have the chair though! SayerMotter Photographs by Richard Sayer
When I was in art school, once at Rhode Island College and again at Edinboro University, I was denied candidacy into the program. At RIC we had to be accepted into the BFA program by presenting our work and ideas to a committee. I was denied. One of the things I was told was that they weren't really sure what to do with me. It was funny, I worked all the time, made a lot of work, experimented and generally produced a body of work that normally would get me accepted without question....accept I lacked the craftsmanship the school held dear. When this happened to me I was at a point of change in my life anyway. I worked another semester towards figuring out what I wanted to do. I could reapply. Instead I got married and planned to move out of state as my new wife was going to start grad school. After making some work, but not really very much for a couple years as I worked in a furniture store, I wanted to go back to school. We ended up out here in Meadville after I was accepted into EUP. I fit in well here, they worked with my lack of ability and craftsmanship and I really was allowed to grow as an undergraduate. I stayed on for grad school and this is where deja-vu happened all over again! Grad school has a little different connotation. You're expected to make a professional and cohesive body of work. I approach everything as a learning experience so I'm quite often ready to experiment whether it fits into a scheme or not. So after 1 year I found myself in a similar place... applying for candidacy to be allowed to say in the MFA program. And again... I was denied. This time the reasoning was more about how I was 'all over the place' and my work lacked focus in a direction. They could see I was working very hard, but they felt that I wasn't working toward a unified body of work. So over the summer I had a bit of a rough time trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I've never felt more constrained in my life. In order to get a degree I had to slow my process down and concentrate on a small number of things---let other ideas wait. I managed to do this and got accepted and then finished off the degree in a year culminating in large painting and drawing show. I don't think it was my best work, though it was very focussed. I guess I'm glad I was able to complete this task of getting an MFA, but it is much more freeing and pleasurable knowing that---as an artist---I can create whatever I want--whenever I want--how ever I want. So I can make something traditional one minute and something highly altered in photoshop the next. And since I'm not seeking many show possibilities at this point, no one has to know that I lack a focus and give me grief on that---just me a- as I will always question what I make in order to come up with the next and the next and the next idea. SayerMotter Photographs by Richard Sayer.
The picture tells you what to do next. Photography, painting, design......there are rules, but not really. We can learn certain things about composition and these generally help us understand that order can bring stability and focus to an image. And for people struggling with learning to see within the context of the four borders we call the frame, learning how to fill the frame with only the essential elements to convey the story that is trying to be told, these rules are great to practice and practice and practice. I think we often start out simply with the rule of thirds. This is an attempt to stop us from putting our subject in dead center all the time. Its a good rule....well let me rephrase that--its a good guideline to consider. I hate thinking of something as a rule. I often see the rules of composition seemingly dismissed, yet the image is powerful---how does that work? Recently a friend made the statement that when the composition is good no one talks about the composition. To go beyond that--when the picture works and conveys information or leads your around the frame to gather more and more information...there is no need to talk about the composition. I often begin working on a painting or a design for my business with no real idea where its going...I start and the picture begins telling me what it needs. Sometimes its loud and clear what it needs, other times it sorta whispers while facing the other direct and is up wind and impossible to hear....but I keep listening and eventually hear it....sometimes what its telling me is to quit, but mostly it just gives me a direction towards louder voices and I arrive at a finished piece. I'm not always sure when I'm done if I accomplished what the picture needs, but we do come to an understanding and move on. That was the case today, since I have piles of work to do I realized that this fulfills the goal--it is its own unique design for its own team...I'll decide later on if I like it. I'm not sure if I ever like anything when I first make it. It has to grow on me. The picture has to tell me its ok! SayerMotter Photography Sports Memory Mate by Richard Sayer.
Chris Hills is a good guy, oh I won't ever admit that in front of him, but he really is. When I don't understand something about equipment--which is often, Chris is the guy I go to... and after about 5 minutes of his relentless busting of my chops he answers my questions... and occasionally separates me from my money. Chris works at the local camera store here in Meadville Van Tuil's. Chris is also a very talented photographer who focusses his attention on what he call 'dirt therapy.' He photographs motor cross racing. And the way he does it scares me a bit. He uses a wide angle lens and gets right in their up close and personal with the racers as they fly(sometime literally) by him kicking up dirt and stones and the like (Note to self--ask Chris how many UV filters he goes thru a season!) I asked Chris if he would come speak to my class at Allegheny about his work and he has agreed. I'm looking forward to seeing some more of his photographs and here what he has to say about his life in photography. I'm always interested in knowing what makes us tick...this striving for image after image after image and it never seems to get dull(ok well I won't say never--we do have moments when certain things seem impossible to have to endure again!) So if you see Chris--remember that he is one of us, a shooter and not just a guy behind the counter trying to sell us the next most expensive thing he has---which by the way is probably what we should be getting anyway instead of settling for a hundred or two less of a camera or lens. I took this picture of Chris to test the new 50mm lens I bought from him this week. I'll use it to show the class ahead of time so they don't run scurrying from the room when they see him walk in(I tried to get through this without a jab!) Photograph by Richard Sayer.