Every time I do a shoot it’s a chance for me to learn and improve. I definitely learned a valuable lesson while creating this photograph of the Navy Band’s sound engineers. I’m going to get a little in-depth today about the thought process behind this photo, and how it’s easy to become “blind” to the little details. The overriding lesson is: Don’t get so stuck on a concept that it keeps you from realizing the other possibilities in a photo.
Today’s post comes from Kevin Burns, a photographer and trumpeter here in Washington, D.C. I asked Kevin if he’d be willing to share some of his thoughts with us here on DC Jazz Photog. I’ve admired his work for a while now, and it just keeps getting better. He has a wonderful eye and always seems to know just where to place a subject in the frame. He expands on the topic of subjects and backgrounds in his post today. Enjoy!
What’s a better way to start off the new year than with some harsh self-critique? Okay, maybe not too harsh. Honest, though.
The photo of Tim Stanley (seen above) was taken just about a year ago. I was a rookie at lighting a portrait. In fact, I was a rookie at photographing a portrait. Keep in mind I don’t consider myself to be an expert after a year of experience under my belt, but I have learned quite a bit since then, in addition to viewing literally hundreds of portraits taken by various masters.
If it seems that every photoshoot I do for these artist profile pages is an excuse to try a new technique, you wouldn’t be far off. On one hand, I started this project to document the jazz musicians living in DC. On the other, I wanted to further my skills in lighting and photography. It’s the latter that compels me to try out new techniques.
Seriously, I’m excited. I’ve done blog projects in the past and they usually go the same way: I start out fast and furious. I have a ton of ideas, I write a bunch of posts, post them all in about a month, and then I run out of content.
But this time is different. Back when I was thinking about writing a blog like this, I reflected back on my failed blog experiments. This time I wanted it to be different. I didn’t want to run out of steam, or worse, run out of ideas. I knew that by choosing such a large group of people to photograph, I’d be okay. Jazz musicians in DC—there’s not that many, you might think—but you’d be surprised. If this were a photo-a-day project it would be a different story. But it’s not. It takes a lot of time to set up shoots, schedule interviews, and get in touch with people, because we’re all busy.
Well it’s gone folks. My beloved Nikon 50mm 1.8 AF lens. That’s it in the photo above, affixed to my camera.
Don’t worry— it wasn’t dropped, lost, or stolen. I decided to give it to a good cause. My brother has been getting more interested in photography lately, and, seeing as my dad passed this lens down to me, I felt it would be fitting to keep it in the family.
I first met Joe McCarthy when my friend and colleague, Tim Stanley, asked me to sub for him in Afro Bop Alliance. Joe is the leader of the band and he’s put together a ridiculous lineup of musicians. It’s incredibly fun and challenging to play with those guys. Go check out a show sometime— the music is thoughtful, beautiful, and energetic.
Joe is always playing around town. Be sure to check out his website for upcoming performances and links to purchase his music! And now: the interview.