jazz poster comes to life

the concept behind the jazz show's holiday publicity downtown posters: festive but not limiting, attractive but not cluttered, informative but not visually confusing, magical and wintery but not entirely christmas-specific. oh, and incorporate at least one dancer, of course. after some thought, the image of a snow globe filled my imagination, but how to create an empty one? after closely examining several in real life, it became clear that dismantling one for my specific use would not work. it needed to be a bit larger, and unique, from scratch. so setting out no farther than 2 square blocks outside of my house in little dublin, i came upon the raw materials: wintery silk flower parts, a 6" globe light fixture, and a candle base. add a white duct tape roll to get the elevation needed, and the set up looked something like this. any thoughts on how it will come to life?
wait no longer. the first draft:
although it's catchy and classic at the same time, it needs something to make it sparkle, to make the eyes move around the layout without knowing why. snow. yes,just a touch. what's a snow globe without snow anyway?



fall brings a welcome change from the fever of summer work out in the great open. more inside studio work occurs, particularly at one location i hold dear to my heart: the oakland scottish rite. the masonic organization has been held under the scrutiny of the public eye thanks to pop fiction and movies that feast on the intrigue and mystery of secret societies ,but i am here to tell you these men are nothing less than professional, kind, driven by the betterment of the person and the spirit, and are held together in a tight fraternity by the universal belief in the all-mighty. they welcomed me into their world in 1994 after scott and i were married there, when i was still green, "wet behind the ears" as a young photographer. mother-in-law gayle got me in the door, as she held the position of secretary.  john beringer put faith in me, which gave me confidence to continue. over the years the classes and tuxedos come and go, the years slip by and john has retired. others remain and continue to welcome me.the building's detailing by none other than the masons of the art-deco era continues to awe and inspire me. the intricacy of the ceilings, fixtures, paneling, use of rich fabrics, hand forged metals, stained woods, built in furniture, tiling, painting and scale of it all remind one of the lost arts of carpentry and excellence in building, and excellence in character as a choice. its formidable size, mysterious passageways, and quality of craftmanship beckon. going back to the scottish rite is like going back home. and the welcome received from the masons is as comfortable as visiting family. 

the public ceremony of investiture
and even in the midst of all this brotherhood and masculinity, a glittering bokeh can be found if one knows where to look...

calling for backup

backdrop, check. strobes and triggers, check. backup speedlites, check.  backup batteries and cards, check. this once-per-year company session includes dancers scheduled 5+ per hour for 4 hours, check. 1/3 through our studio session the shutter sync is wrong. half of my frames are showing up black. usually this means the sync is set too high for the studio strobes, but at 1/160 and slower still at 1/125, that should not be the case. the viewfinder goes entirely black. i am now shooting blind and beginning to sweat. i pull off the lens and to my horror, the mirror literally falls onto the floor. my heart surely stops, and at very least, skips a beat. reinsert the mirror. (it should *never* fall out. in 30 years, i've never seen anything like this.) reattach the lens. fire. we have a shot, and it is synching properly. but it's out of  focus and i cannot use the viewfinder in order to focus the lens. someone finds us a fabric tape measure. we take to the floor, marking out 5' intervals between the camera lens and the dancer. finding our total length, i return to the camera and set the lens manually to the correct distance. fire. check. we're back in business, but for the rest of the day i have no visibility through the viewfinder. here are some of our results from our indoor jazz company session.  one parent asked, "do you have a backup camera?" well, i didn't. i do now...

urban jazz

the jazz company director asked that we take it to the streets this year. this is not a difficult task in portraiture. however. multiply a "typical" urban portrait session by 30 dancers and things get....tricky. my thoughts in rapid fire: "shoot everyone. leave no one out. feature strong dancers. exclude no one. incorporate urban features. grunge it up. keep it clean. make it pop. oh. start at sunrise. break the whole into smaller groups. cover six square blocks with the entourage of dancers, parents, a wagon of gear, and one pregnant labradoodle. finish before 9. don't holler out orders...think...watch the background...check the histogram...where's the light...count of 3...do it again..." yes, the banter was constant in my head.
i can only hope i caught a few keepers. really, we had a very fun and fast time.

one of the guys in this truck hopped out and joined the dancers, striking a pose in the street. :) sorry, i didn't catch it. i was literally running.
i like this one better without the wink of sunlight across faces...
although the above had a more predictable outcome, i still favor movement. dancers dance, after all. they don't pose.
cool shadow play...
the following four shots were made possible by perching on the median, waiting for cars to pass then giving the dancers counts of 3...again and again.
the first two are straight off the camera to give you a sense of perspective...

this would be a good "save the date" image edited on that sign. instead of fighting against it being there, we will work with it!
so capture the whole company, right? below is one version. meh.

here is the whole company in attendance again, an image that makes me happier...34 dancers, i think. the back side of this building provided a beautiful backdrop although i did edit it into something taller. speaking of big. this image should be printed BIG.  

and that is all for now.
on this day at 1pm i took a nap. :)

rougeau family

Theresa's oldest son came home on leave from the Air Force for a short time. We struggled to come up with a time that worked with both our schedules but eventually we succeeded. Our time fell extremely close to sundown, which we made work for us, ultimately shooting in total darkness. I literally could not see. Sometimes "mother necessity" will push a person in directions they never imagined. Our experimentation turned out to be very fun...and interesting...

i'd like to show you more lovelies. these images make me happy, oh so very happy after 50 hours of editing and 10 hours of work on the actual shooting day. hard work pays off. and these dancers may not be at the professional level,
but their hard work wows me.