In October, I received an e-mail from an editor looking for an image of a crane operator to support a story they were doing on operator training. Usually, in the assignments I have shot, the crane is the subject and due to the size of the crane the operator is a very tiny part of the image…if he/she can be seen at all. I had till the next morning to get back to the editor so that evening I filtered my images and from 10,000 plus finished images of cranes I had two featuring crane operators where I had releases. I found them in about 5 minutes and had them off to the editor that night. Four weeks later, the image was published. I never would have found those two images from 10,000 plus shot over the past decade had it not been that I had attached some basic keywords to those images. If you keyword when you input your images from your cards, it soon becomes a habit. A habit that just got reenforced by this experience.
In shooting the cover for the August issue of American Crane and Transport, I had what I thought was a slam dunk idea for a cover. Literally outside my 16th floor office was a 51 story building going up. I started shooting the building from the time the tower crane was assembled. What a unique shot I thought. Straight down on a Tower Crane, a perspective most people don’t see or get to shoot. Up 2,3,8,12 stories and I shot all the way, along with the conventional from the ground up shot. When it came time to submit, in went the “unique perspective shots” along with the traditional. Then the call came from the editor. “We are really struggling to select one from several we like, would you like to be the tie-breaker?” So I selected my favorites and had a couple of hours to get back to them. In the end, I picked the traditional shot. Why not the “unique perspective”. The image was to highlight the magazine’s lead story, key word “story”. The more I looked at the tower crane below me in the “unique perspective” shots, the more I realized that they just didn’t have the impact of standing under a 12 story tower crane in operation – that’s what your mind expects to see and if it doesn’t see that it doesn’t scream Tower Crane. So in supporting the magazine’s lead story, we needed to make the reader’s mind identify quickly that this was the tower crane issue, not struggle to figure out why we were looking down on the crane. It was an important lesson for me and a reminder that its about telling the story, not just about capturing what was a unique perspective. In the end the story won out, as it should have.
I think travel photography is a great way to enhance a trip. A little preparation pre-trip goes a long way to make sure you are ready to capture those images and that they get safely back home with you – something I wrote about a couple of years back for Currents Magazine and am happy to share if you contact me.
Travel photography gives you the chance to visually tell the story, creating memories you can look back on for years. But to tell the story its more than a simple click. Trying to tie in elements that can visually express your experience in a simple image can be daunting.
To illustrate, the light and sky were great for the first image of the fountain at Munich’s Karlsplatz, just outside of the ancient gate, Karlstor, and the pedestrian area leading to Marienplatz. But if you don’t know Munich, it could be a fountain anywhere in Europe. I like the second one a lot better. It helps tell the story and certainly the time of year that we were in Munich.
My friend, Moose, calls them ass shots. In his case its usually aircraft. The bottom line is reminding yourself to try different perspectives. As he says, make the common, uncommon. Recently I was looking at a new Terex AC-250-1 All Terrain Crane. It was overcast, the crane was in the middle of an inspection, so “normal” shots were out of the question. So I tried a different perspective.
I had the extremely good fortune to have spent a good deal of 2013 working through the Master of Light Program under the close one-on-one tutelage of its creator, Moose Peterson. What started as a desire to get it right in camera (Moose’s mantra) quickly spread to a wonderful personal exploration with the camera and telling the story, all the time guided patiently (very patiently) by Moose. Sitting here today on the “other side” of that experience and looking back on it, the profound effect it has had on my approach to image making is pretty staggering and hard to explain without taking up way too much of your time. But,suffice it to say, more than I would have ever imagined when I applied for the Program and was accepted.
Moose has been a critical factor in my development as a photographer and story teller and for that I am extremely grateful. That such a talented individual that is in such demand within the industry spends such a significant portion of his time sharing and working with other photographers really tells the story. If you want to get better in this field, this is someone you need to follow. Trust me on that.
So MLP is completed but its not the end. Just the beginning.
Moose features our MLP work in Volume 17.1 of his publication, the BT Journal, which just came out and is available for the IPAD through the App Store on ITunes.