A bunch of years ago there was this very talented high school kid who seemed to love photography. He was making pictures and doing digital things that I didn't even know how to do. I remembered this one picture he took of one of his friends and there were these wings painted on the wall. A few years later I was doing a shoot and remembered where these were and went looking for them. I've now gone back and they are still there--a little more faded and more graffiti is being added to it--sort of disrupting it. But I made this picture of Angela a couple weeks ago there. Not sure if I'll use it again. But I think someday I want to make some backgrounds that are graffiti marks and maybe will try to make some wings like this. SayerMotter Photograph by Richard Sayer.
Back in the golden age of black and white photography we had to learn how to think about how certain colors would appear. We looked through a camera and saw everything in color so it wasn't always easy to see the color as a grey tone. Knowing how light reacted to the film and recorded a color as a shade was key. We could filter for it and the filter might make the whole scene look red or yellow or blue depending on what we wanted to colors to do, but we could show definition and separation of a color in a scene. Sometimes I forget this now when i have a photo that might appear in black and white in the paper. When I remember it, I'll tone the photo as color and black and white just so it reads as best it can. Yesterday I forgot to do this with this picture. I should've known the orange ball and greenish water in the subdued light of the MARC pool would make the ball nearly disappear in b/w. When I looked at today's paper I did one of those slapping my hand to my forehead moves and said auugghhh! I do know better, yet somehow missed it yesterday. Meadville Tribune photograph by Richard Sayer.
800 years ago when I was in photography school I got to use the state of the art equipment of the time. Calumet 4x5 cameras with Zeiss lenses, top level lighting equipment, 500 dollar backdrops, really nice film--all that stuff. It was really quite funny when I think back on it. The basic studio set up that we learned studio photography on probably ran upwards of 8 or 9 thousand dollars--probably even more. So we poor college students who were paying 10's of thousands of dollars to get know-how would graduate and no longer have access to the equipment. Its really no wonder actually that when I look at my graduating class that there are only a few of us still even in the business. There were a few lessons that really helped me out...one was finding alternative ways of making expensive effects cheaply. Vaseline was first on the list of things to steal out of mom and dad's bathroom closets--you only needed a little and the idea was to smear it on a piece of clear glass or a skylight filter--this was a cheap diffuser or if you wanted to create a soft vignette--leave the center clear. Nail polish was a more permanent way and once dry didn't get anything else greasy. My favorite story was the day I went out and bough Leggs eggs panty hose. I got white and nude. And then these were part of my camera bag for years. I occasionally had to explain myself when one would fall out. These make great softening affects when placed over the lens. All my years now in newspapers sorta made me forget about this until recently when I was cleaning out an old camera bag and found this old stocking--now over 20 years old(do hose still come in eggs?) Now I have an expensive little filter that does the same thing--but not really--there is more serendipity with the hose as it catches light differently. Its a little weird using it because it makes me seem a little weird--but usually when I show a couple results I win over my subjects(thank you digital photography). Now the trick will be to use it well when its appropriate--I'm going to be doing a few senior portraits soon and I think this might be a nice way to offer a different look to my clients--in the meantime I'll try to work on the best ways to use lighting with this effect--and maybe even use the more expensive filter to look a little more professional---but don't be surprised if you see me pull out and old stocking. SayerMotter Photograph by Richard Sayer.
I admit--I like black and white. In photography I think a black and white image allows you to look at the meaning of the picture because your eye is drawn through the composition by the photographers focussed and overall toning techniques. The eye is not distracted by color or influenced by certain colors(studies have shown people are drawn to certain colors and this can affect their like or dis-like of something.) Yet sometimes color....well it just needs to be color. I had this thought for a picture of my friend Rita wearing a gown and sprawled out. I wasn't sure what sort of color--I see this picture style often in white because the idea is influenced by the great portraits done by George Hurrell in the 40's. But Rita had this great Orange gown so we gave it a try. It had to be color. And the backgrounds had reds and yellows and I used red material to keep it all within the same color palate. I tried to convert this to black and white and think it still worked out, but the color is warm. My original idea was a much more elongated figure but I don't really have the set up needed yet to make the picture I want. We're going to try this again someday, possibly with another dress and a more formalized set up. I want to create a more symmetrical scene--perhaps look at Vermeer's work again as well and create a scene--I think there is something there and when it gets figured out 100% I'm going to really have a great picture--for me and for Rita. One thing is for sure--I'm learning again to look back at the masters both in photography and painting to guide me. I learn so much by looking at old paintings and early photographers and traditional techniques---from there I'm pretty sure the new looks for my work will emerge. It certainly is great fun experimenting with different ways of making images. Its much different than documentary work where its record as best you can with the situation you're given....not better...not worse...just different....and fun. SayerMotter Photograph by Richard Sayer.
To smile or not to smile. Senior pictures are filled with smiles--some serious. So I find myself saying things like 'smile' and 'lets make this a serious one.' Sometimes I joke around to get a laugh. Today I said--'lets try looking bad-ass.' Which of course---immediately made Jalen laugh and then when I told his mom that I asked him to look bad-ass I think her words were something like ' oh honey do it!' to her son which made us even laugh more and I think made getting a true bad-ass expression nearly impossible. But we still had a good time making some pictures just the same. The first few minutes of a photo shoot usually entails the subject not really comfortable--its not an easy thing getting your picture taken. You feel super self conscious and not sure what sort thing the photographer is doing when he asks you to do something--especially if it seems pretty weird or stupid. So the first few minutes are getting to know each other a little--take some pictures that won't likely make the cut and then once some trust and a sense of dialogue gets a little comfortable, then the real work begins. We shot for a couple hours today and have plans to do another shoot in a couple weeks ---a haircut a little too close to the shoot almost cancelled today---but we decided to make some pictures and see what we got. I'm glad we did, I think we got a few keepers and also got to know each other just a little---plus we get to look at these and make improvements for the next time. SayerMotter Photograph by Richard Sayer.
Apples have been appearing in my paintings and photographs ever since I began drawing them back at RIC in the eighties. It has meant so many things over the years--the obvious symbols from the bible, sin and knowledge...but somewhere it became more about some hidden part of me that I don't even fully understand--I think it keeps ending up in my work because I don't really get what I'm saying all the time--yet am compelled to say it----i guess it comes from having a symbol change its meaning and evolve its meaning and grow its meaning and and and....that I'm not completely aware of when I'm using it as a blatant solid thought or a more subtle not so clear thought. I know I can seldom ever simply have an idea and then illustrate it--it has to grow and there is no way for me to know--through all that process of making and thinking and rethinking, what the firm meaning is anymore--and more often than not it means everything I know somehow. I could wrap my brain around making these pictures of Jessica with an apple because I think her idea for it was so different than mine that I didn't quite grab on and run with it. But yet there it is--still in there. I'm not sure if I'll ever get rid of the apple as a symbol within my work--I keep thinking I need to but somehow it keeps coming back in. I have two pieces right now--that don't have the apple in the plan, but I won't be surprised if they end up in there somewhere! SayerMotter Photograph by Richard Sayer.
Its sorta funny--there are a bunch of photographers in this area and we're all looking for places to shoot and based on what I see on facebook and other places--we're all finding the same places--its a wonder we're not stumbling over each other. It is amazing to that we all use the places and shoot different pictures--i guess we each have our own style, way of seeing, composing type of lighting we like etc.... I remember sitting at a football game next to an Erie Times photographer and we both caught this action--and it seemed at the exact same time--and yet our pictures were different. Because of the slightly different angle our backgrounds were quite different. This was action and were both using the same focal length lens. I was probably squatting and he was probably standing. I think thats a pretty great thing. There is talk of this type of technology coming out where an image is taken and focus is determined later on(no idea how this works). Some people are saying it will make everyone better photographers. We'll see. I know that there is something to be said for the 'way' we see and how we compose. So we'll see what this new technology does. I'm not sure auto-focus made us all better photographers--though I admit it certainly improved the number of action photos I got sharp at night football, but I still see really bad photographs being taken with really good cameras. SayerMotter Photograph by Richard Sayer.
Do you ever really stop and notice good people? I catch myself sometimes really wondering if I do. We always seem to be drawn to the extreme people--they make the headlines. But its the truly good people of this world that make this....well...a place worth living in. Jesse works at the Meadville Tribune. I admit, I haven't sat and really chatted with him. We talk daily, but Im always off somewhere when I see him. I've taken 3 or 4 pictures of him now and I want to ask him to do a formal portrait...and I will. I believe Jesse is one of the truly good people of this world. He shows up to work early and I don't believe I've ever heard him complain. We need more people like him. I wish I was more like him. I unfortunately see many things to complain about--many things I want to see changed. But really---look at life and what we're given. This is pretty cool overall. Lets just say there is no heaven or afterlife----did we not still get to experience some pretty cool stuff? I know I have--even if its just some friendships--there is a little scotsman who is one heck of a lawn bowler who has the funniest things to say about everything(actually there are three or four of these that I've known). There are folks like Jim Stefanucci and Harmony Motter and Sam and my mom and my dad.Gramma and Grampa---great people!!!!! Duane and Craig and Lee and Chris and Ray and and...the list goes on.... It is too bad that there are people that we don't care for...because most people are good I think. I really look forward to seeing Jesse everyday at the paper. I always hope he is having fun himself. He certainly deserves to, Photograph by Richard Sayer.
There was a lot going on around football on Tuesday. I heard the nfl was getting close to figuring out their mess, I found out our status with MASH football for the coming year and I saw Artrel Foster at a baseball game and thought about what an out-standing football player he is. I photographed Artrell for the first time when he was very little. I have stumbled upon the Foster family and hold Artrel's grandmother in very high regard. I see her attend sporting events and just around town and she has always been very nice to me. Last year Artrel's mom asked me to make a poster of Artrel using both football and basketball pictures--he is quite talented in both sports. As I was making the posters I had trouble figuring out how to make both work so I came up with this football poster first. I was thinking about this a lot yesterday. One of the things that I feel makes us stand out as photographers is our ability to make things like this. Newspaper training and understanding sports photography is a specialty service for sure. So even though its hotter then blazes out there--yesterday I was cooled by the thought of being on the sidelines at a football game making pictures of local athletes doing their thing. Fun. I've done a few more of these for clients in the past year and they can be seen by click 'sayermottersports' and you check out other things we do at 'sayermotter sports teams'. SayerMotter poster and photograph by Richard Sayer.