So I've been hanging clothes lines in the studio in order to hang things for backdrops. One thing I discovered is I can hang things and shine lights through them to create shadows etc.... I'm not a huge fan of traditional lighting, though I admit when traditional lighting is done well the pictures sing. When I started in photography it seemed I always want to photograph through something to get my subjects, which when I was doing well, would be in focus. I'm finding myself wanting to revisit this thinking and see what 27 years of experience can do for this approach. Last night during a break from hanging some things on the walls of the studio a friend dropped by with her new phone and we made a handful of images with it to see what it could do. The lighting was low so the pictures turned out a little grainy, but overall these new phones seem to take pictures that could be blown up to 8x10. This one, because of its grainy ness probably would go much higher than a 4x6 comfortably. But it was fun making shadows with our hands and trying to get a different look--certainly something that needs more experimentation. Photograph by Richard Sayer with Rita's phone.
To be honest, I like to ad lib. I have ideas to start a photoshoot but find the best results come from just working through and getting beyond the ideas. I guess its my training. The idea that illustrating is taking an idea and seeing it through and art is taking an idea and allowing it to transform into something else. I think photoshoots can be done this way as well. Start with a basic thought--then move on and see where it goes. Today we started out with an idea and then just tried to work on a portfolio for Angela. We got several ideas attempted and allowed them to become what them did. These are just a few and there are likely to be more shared later on. SayerMotter Photographs by Richard Sayer.
A few days ago I got an email from my mom. A picture I posted really moved her....errrr not in a good way. She didn't like the picture. I admit I laughed, because its my mom and I guess for as long as one lives--you want to please your mother. Well the picture I posted and wrote about was not her favorite by any means and what is weird about it--I think I even thought that she wouldn't like it when I posted it. Its ok--as she said in her email...I can't please everyone with every picture I guess. Now what I didn't tell her was on Thursday I was supposed to get a hot-air balloon ride. Well that didn't happen because of the weather. So I was glad I didn't tell her because I think she would've been more disappointed than me. Tonight as I was walking onto the grounds where the Thurston Classic was to launch I heard---'Rich...hey we have an empty sponsors balloon--do you want to go?' The voice was from one of the event organizers Joyce Stevens. I said, I'll have to make sure its ok with the office and can I get a ride back to my car? So after a phone call and the ok---it was set, I would get a chance to do what my grandfather did, go up in a hot-air balloon. (by the way this is how I'm telling mom about it! - i hope after the picture a few days ago she is still checking the site!) I will admit that it was a neat experience, I wish I was one who savored such things -- I was working and to me trying to grab photos was what I was there to do...so I probably didn't get as much out of it as others would, but it was still pretty cool. My favorite part was when the pilot said to me that the winds had shifted and it was unlikely that we'd get to try to drop a beanbag and hit a target in a hare and hound competition(a lead balloon takes off and lands and puts out a target on the ground--the other balloons follow and try to drop a beanbag onto the target--the closest to center i think wins.) Anyway our balloon caught significantly different winds and there was no way to correct it - so I asked what now. The pilot said...'now we just fly.' I liked that!I think the highest we got was about 6 or 700 feet and he said he would try to tickle my feet as we passed within a few feet of the tops of a grove of oak trees. We flew for about an hour and landed pretty smoothly -- although we got some great help from a few teenagers waiting for us who helped push the balloon away from a lone tree in the yard we dropped in on. I'll be putting more pictures from the experience in a slideshow that I'll hopefully be able to post tomorrow night on the Meadville Tribune website. Meadville Tribune photographs by Richard Sayer. For mom!
Last year this guy name John Cavin brought his 'Purple People Eater' balloon to the Thurston Classic and I photographed him inside the balloon. I thought it went along with the name of the balloon. This year I was at the Night Glow and I got a chance to work the same picture. Its neat looking inside a balloon. I was inside one once and that too was vary cool. I noticed this balloon looked different on the inside and wasn't sure it it was because of lighting or if he had a new one made--or different things sewn into this one!!??? I linked last years post to this picture(click or double click picture to be taken to last years post. One of the great things about being a newspaper photographer is that I can get access like this and no one really tries to kick me out. I do try to stay out of the way too--but there are times I need to get in close--so I try to be aware and get out of the way when I need to. Meadville Tribune photograph by Richard Sayer.
This weekend I photographed the Gorske family and their son, Damarius. He was quite the character and not camera shy what so ever. He is six years old and wanted to be a part of everything. I tried to pay him the attention that he deserved all the while trying to photograph him, four adults and a five month-old baby girl. I managed to snap these four photos in less than a minute and then he was off to the next best thing. I like what Albert Einsteinsaid about six year-olds. He said, " If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself."
SayerMotter Photos By: Harmony Motter
I had the pleasure of photographing baby Meadow in February when she was just 17 days old. The family recently called me to tell me that they were moving to Guatemala and asked if I would photograph them again before they left. I caught up with Meadow, her mommy Carmen and the family this past Sunday. Meadow is now 4 months and 23 days old. She is a beautiful little girl and I look forward to photographing her again. I thought it fitting to post these pictures today because today is the day that they depart for Central America. Best of luck to the Aguilar-Gorske family.
SayerMotter Photos By: Harmony Motter
When I was in high school I used to hang up signs in the hallway that questioned what we were being taught, questioned the rules of the school and the authority of the teachers and principals. I either never got caught or the people in charge didn't see it as a big deal. But they did rip down the signs. When I went to art school I began doing this on paper and canvases. I also tried some things with photography. Often the criticism was that my message either wasn't clear enough or too blatantly clear that the impact was lost. I wasn't really sure how to find that balance. I was thinking about this recently and wondering when my work made a change from this to what it is now and have I learned anything--are my pieces still too vague or too 'upside the head' to be taken seriously. I think that when I began only making work for myself, ie not for professors or potential galleries...that my work became less about having an edge and more of an inner dialogue. I find this important in journalism too---the idea in journalism is to be a vessel in which a story is told through...I think in my personal work I still feel this might be when my work is at its best--when I let myself go and let serendipity play a role, let possibility enter in and don't just illustrate an idea--my work takes on more meaning--at least to me. This is a self portrait I did 16 or 17 years ago. I guess we all sometimes feel we're muzzled and not allowed to have our voice. I know Harmony and I feel this at times when we see our photographs appearing in the next morning paper with words and boxes pasted over the top of them. We feel this softens and even takes away our voice--our best ability to communicate all because of a 'design idea' that doesn't help in the story telling process--in fact we believe it hinders the storytelling process. And sometimes we're not listened to when we believe one picture conveys a story better than another. These do frustrate us because we put so much thought and so much of ourselves into telling other peoples stories that when we don't see these living up to potential...it leaves us shaking our head. I question many things still to this day, and I guess even though I find myself pounding my head against the same wall over and over again....if I don't it will never get changed. At least I hope somehow--someway the true messages will eventually get through. Photograph by Richard Sayer.
I use photoshop a lot in my non- newspaper work. Its a tool. But I still find more enjoyment out of figuring ways of doing it in camera. I began to experiment with 'blowing out' detail with over exposure. Sometimes this works--sometimes it doesn't/ It is really hit or miss---but there is a logic to it. Sorta like using the apps on an iphone--you compse a picture--but then have to see what the app did to it in the processing. This over-exposure idea works best with people who have features that suit the over-exposure---though I try this fair haired people too--dark hair and really light skin seem to work best overall. Then set flash to about 4 stops too bright and see what happens. SayerMotter photograph by Richard Sayer.
Henri Cartier - Bresson talked about how photography is intuitive and a split second that a picture presents itself--if you miss it--you miss it. Cartier-Bresson is one of my go to people when I want to look at great photography. I can look at his pictures over and over again. Thats a remarkable thing. To create images you can go back to many times and still find enjoyment and more importantly see something new in it--and learn. Its like good music--the more you listen--the more you hear the great stuff in the background. It is that instant when a picture is a picture that intrigues me. Someone called it the decisive moment based on a translation of Cartier-Bresson's words. And we use this all the time when we talk and teach about photography. But its when everything comes together in an instant of time--the subjects do and the photographer captures in a pattern or composition that will engage the viewer. Its brilliant really. This idea is what made photography no longer dependent on the art world for acceptance. It was this notion that made photography its own thing. We can argue that it is equal or superior or( for the neophytes of the world) lesser than painting and sculpture--- in any event it is its own thing and has its very important place in the history of image making. And its this idea of the moment that really still, after 28 years of doing this that keeps getting me very excited about making photographs. Posed portraits are fine, and they have their own challenges and can be exciting, but its the capturing of a fleeting a moment that really really really should be what people want to display in their homes. When I took this picture I heard the children's mom say--oh that was cute the way she looked up at him---I agreed and was very happy that I captured it. SayerMotter Photograph by Richard Sayer.