Light: The End of the Tunnels

Ice Cream Sundae Spoons

My work keeps me critically busy. In fact, my work is often all that remains at the end of a long day, a long week or a long month. For the past month my head has been held under water from the demands of my teaching, my coaching responsibilities and the photography work I do for various clients. Fortunately, my work has come to a fruitful end for the next two months and now I am the master of my own freedom again. Today finds me having slept for more than six hours. Today finds me preparing for a trip to Hawaii and a subsequent motorcycle ride to Nashville. Today finds me heading down to Kyle Holingdrake at the Okey Doke Tattoo Shop to start my Japanese inspired 3/4 tattoo sleeve. Life is never boring. Life should be a series of highs and lows that weave a beautiful, rich tapestry.

The work I did one sunny afternoon for a client, Paderno Canada, may well be some of the best hero shots that I have taken. Between the exhaustion of writing reports, marking and coaching I somehow was able to shoot fifteen products over two afternoons. A hero shot is one in which the product is made to look like a hero and is often surrounded by the props and food that the purchaser will generally be inspired to use it with. The theme for the flyer was “summer fun”, so out came the lobster tails, steak, fruit and ice cream. My first shot, the ice cream, is my hands-down favourite. The composition, colours and freshness of the Haagen Dazs Gelato was inspiring, and despite the warm sun melting the ice cream within two short minutes, I was able to capture the image without any problems. The taste of the gelato, which is a new line from the company, lifted me to a new world as it mixed together with the berries and the three different flavours. Standing in the garden we built, eating this ice cream made working over my days off teaching made the effort worthwhile. 2328 Hero

Shooting over an open flame is never easy. Heat is not a camera’s friend, and I was also having quite a few problems with smoke due to the fat sizzling off of the tenderloins I hand-cut for the knife shot. Still, anytime that a person can share lobster and steak with his family is a good time. Sharing great food with friends and family after a shoot is a foundation of my business model. I will never shoot fake food that has been prepped by three stylists and then promptly tossed in the garbage. My integrity demands that I have to be able to cook the food and feature the product with it in an authentic manner. There are no fake ice creams scooped from a vat of chemical. The fruit is never plastic. The ice cubes melt. My work is real, and in my opinion, that fact makes a difference to both me and my clients. 20052 Hero

During this session I chose to use my aging Canon EOS 1D mk IV with a Hasselblad 80mm f.2.8 lens via an adapter. Photography in real world conditions demands a fast shooting process which my dslr gives me but that my Hasselblad with a digital back does not. The CFV 16 back that I use simply does not work in a nimble way. The images it takes are beautiful, but I needed a different tool for this session. I suppose that both of these cameras are now getting a little long in the tooth, but it is difficult for me to rationalize the purchase of a new $6000+ Canon body or a $15000 move to the new Hasselblad H5D. I am certain that both of these options would yield new possibilities for my work, but at the moment I am simply not able to give any more time to photography work than I do. Still, both of these choices are probably going to have to be considered after the next year completes its cycle. Film, my preferred medium, is pretty much impossible to continue shooting in anything more than an artisan style, and that has few business benefits or applications.

52006-26 Hero

The summer is about to begin. This summer promises to offer up many sacrifices, feasts and new perspectives as we reflect on the year’s work. As T.S. Eliot wrote in “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”:

 And would it have been worth it, after all, 
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea, 
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me, 
Would it have been worth while,                                             
To have bitten off the matter with a smile, 
To have squeezed the universe into a ball 
To roll it toward some overwhelming question, 
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead, 
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all” 
If one, settling a pillow by her head, 
  Should say, “That is not what I meant at all. 
  That is not it, at all.”

I think that it will always be worth it for me. I work hard, I play harder, and I stay in the moment even when those moments are not filled with laughter and simple pleasures. So you will find me on a beach walking with my dogs. I may be found out there on the road on my motorcycle or in a car. I will be in a classroom, learning how to continue the novel I began writing two years back.  I will be out there…in the light for as long as it remains.




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