I really like trying to have one thing that is a little fun to do on a picture day. Last year I took a feature picture for The Meadville Tribune of wrestling cheers on the sidelines posing for cell phone photos wearing some of the wrestlers headgear. The response that picture got gave me the idea of having the girls pose with the headgear during the picture day for their team and individual shots. This isn't necessarily smart business, because it creates more work, makes the picture shoot more complicated and can open up the possibility that the cheers might think its stupid and not want to do it. But none of that was the case. It was fun and the girls seemed to have fun and it showed I was willing to try different things which led to the cheers wanting to pose and play out in the cold snow. We had some fun and everyone seemed to come away enjoying the experience and I've heard good feedback that they like the pictures too. And it makes it more fun for me that got into photography because I didn't like cookie cutter or assembly line type of work. SayerMotter Photograph by Richard Sayer
This is not one of our pictures, it was sent to us by our great friends Jim and Debbie the other day for Christmas. I added the words tonight and wanted to make this the featured picture of the day. Hunter came to Jim and Debbie almost a year ago and he's a great guy. The caption that accompanied this picture was ' Bring me a cookie!' How could I not? So Hunter and I had fun on Sunday as I gave him a pocket full of cookies. As we get ready for Christmas this seemed like the right picture to share!
When I first started to make posters for sports it came from a couple places. 1. I saw some studios offering posters and I felt they looked a bit generic and I wanted to see if I could design something somewhat unique. They have grown from simple to more and more complex with layering and blurring etc... I am also trying to learn new ways of making borders and using type-- and 2. I used to make illustrations for the Meadville Tribune athletes of the year that I would try to incorporate different things into to make them a little special. I did this for several years before they sort of ran their course. Now I'm going to try to figure out something new for the winter athletes, and I think that might come from me trying to do more and more of these posters until I find something that will get me going in a new direction. I tried to make a design for the fall athletes, but we ran out of time and didn't get it done in time to begin running the stories. Below was the only one I got around to making and we just couldn't commit to the concept without doing it all out. Meadville Tribune photographs and designs by Richard Sayer. I've been designing several and after Christmas I'll be able to show more--Santa doesn't like it when one of his helpers
Its funny, the more I work on my photography, the more I find myself revisiting old long gone photographers for inspiration and direction. The old timers like George Hurrell who I've mentioned many times in my featured picture of the day ramblings, seemed to really experiment with lighting--perhaps out of a need back then just to get enough light to expose the film. But now with all the fancy strobe lighting and diffusers etc... I find the best lights are much like the continuous tungsten based lights that are similar to what was used back then. I know the same affects can be achieved by using the fancier equipment, but I find it suits me better to use the older techniques. And what's funny is they seem fresh and new--maybe its because the subjects are pierced and tattooed and wearing modern styles, but this lighting, that really is much like the old masters used, seems different and new. I will keep tweaking the lighting and trying new things, but its comforting knowing that some old standards are there for me when I need them. In any case its always fun trying to get something different and new--at least for me. SayerMotter Photograph by Richard Sayer
One of the cardinal rules of visual story-telling is - avoid redundancies. Today's Tribune had two very similar photographs for the story about Saegertown Elementary School teacher Bob Gulick making good on a bet that he would shave his head if the school raised more than $20,000. The photograph above with Gulick reflected in the mirror was the best photo. I made the mistake of saving two very similar images, I liked them both for different reasons, but they each only told one part of the story. Since we were using two photographs we should've picked another image as the second picture. The picture below was another one saved and this should've been the one used. I have to remember that I have a responsibility to the readers of the paper to give them the best I can. By my not making a clear choice for the lead photograph I left the chance that we wouldn't our readers the best or represent the story in as well rounded a way as we could. I tell my students all the time that editing is one of the hardest parts of photography, we like different pictures for different reason. But that is exactly what we need to avoid, we need to take ourselves out of it and break it down to what communicates the best. Thats what our responsibility is and I need to remind myself of this as often as I can. Having a redundancy didn't ruin the story, it just didn't give the story its due justice. And having the second photo be the one below would've given more people a chance to see the fun that was had---even the Panther looks like he was enjoying himself. Mead
When I was studying painting we were looking at how visual tensions were created through gestures and proximity, by linear eye movements and direction of gaze and overall emotion depicted. I try to think about these things when photographing portraits and fashion model portfolios. Working with couples, or even just multiple people whether it is mother-daughter, boy-friend/girlfriend, sisters etc.... I try to see if we can hint at the connection rather than just say it outright with a typical expression, embrace or pose. Recently photographing BreAnn and Chris we were able to try many different ways to depict their love for each other. They are young and cool, they each have a style and are projecting their personalities still(unlike some of us older guys who just want comfortable hoodies and warm socks!) So this plays into how their pictures should be made. Can we show love with out an embrace? Without a kiss? I combined these two pictures because I liked them both because of the subtle difference each had in there reading. I flipped one to create a mirror image simply for visual affect and to tie BreAnn's expression, which is the only difference in each picture, more closely together. I'm not sure how well it works together, but its interesting try to find a different way to express the age old pursuit of love and courtship. SayerMotter Photography by Richard Sayer
I use this back room all the time in the studio we use, it used to be a darkroom and now its sort of a storage space with peeling paint and grungy floors and just not a place you'd really think of as a place to make photographs. Perfect! I want to actually go in an fix-up the room, clean it and make it into something, but then will that ruin what is happening in there? There are many things that distract me in the space, so eventually I'll do something about it, but until then its fun taking people back into this space and telling them this is where I'm going to take some cool photos of them and seeing there reaction. I think its kinda funny that I'm sure people lose confidence in me when I take them into that room, but usually, I'd say so far everyone, has come away and really like the photos I've gotten. Many have made them their lead homepage picture on their website. The other neat thing is I usually use a cheap floor lamp and my cheap lights in that back room. The stuff I do in the nice clean studio with all the expensive equipment turns out well too, but I think everyone is a little surprised when some of their favorite images are the ones taken in the crappy old dungy, grungy former darkroom. SayerMotter Photograph by Richard Sayer.
Wrestling season begins, so its a time for tough kids, a lot of expressive faces and some grunting and lifting and spinning. I like to photograph wrestling. Sometimes I can use the cool lighting and colorful mats to get something different, but most of the time its all about looking for action and faces to tell the story. Zach Towers lifting his opponent told the story of his match. The 152 pounder's expression told the other side of the story, how McDowell dominated the team event. And all the while the cheerleaders were their urging their wrestlers to fight hard. Meadville Tribune photographs by Richard Sayer.
If you've been reading and looking at this blog for awhile now you'll know by now that I like to try all sorts of things. Every now and then when I'm toning an image I'll try to push the tones, the contrast and even the color past its normal range to see if I can make a section of the photograph that might be a little dead-come alive. Sometimes when I do this I discover something else and often I get a little lost with pushing this or that and suddenly I have an unexpected image. Many times I end up scrapping these and start over. Today I was trying to make the background pop a little more in this picture of Janae and when I did - the hair and facial tones began to do some things that I sorta liked and I began really tweaking the image. I work these like a painting, using pacities to create glazes and erasing and layering over the top to push and pull the forms and colors. I also played with borders, I do this a lot too and really haven't found what I'm looking for yet in these, but I keep trying(You'll never find it if you don't try.) If nothing else it helps add to the vocabulary of my own personal image making and might give me a tool I need done the road to make an image that I need to make. SayerMotter manipualted photograph by Richard Sayer