Louis Comfort

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Jim and I snuck in a fast trip into the Cincinnati Museum of Art this past weekend. We were in a hurry because I had a wedding too shoot starting in the mid afternoon and there was a lot of windshield time in-between. The excuse was to see a collection of Samurai weapons and armor that was closing the next day. However, it was a side gallery that proved to be the highlight to the outing for me. A collection of Tiffany windows and lamps.

Gorgeous subtle colors. See for yourself.

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Eva Went to the Ball

I’m really not the best at Photoshop. So, on rainy days like this one, I sometimes pick out a photo that had potential but didn’t quite make the grade. I give them a go in Lightroom first and then port them on to Photoshop for the heavy lifting.

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So it was with this photo of Eva. In the before, you can see that there is quite a bit wrong with the photo from exposure to th0se ugly metal chairs. The event is a Civil War ball in a historic building. Why fill it with modern metal chairs?

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In the after, I’ve used the clone tool and paint brushes to remove the offending chars and added adjustment layers with masks to make tonal and color corrections.

Now, the rain has passed and it’s time to go out and play…or take a nap. I could go either way.

Have a great Saturday, folks.

The Fine Art of Visiting

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Perhaps as a result of my semi-southern upbringing, I enjoy visiting. No special occasion is required. You only need the desire to stop by and spend some time with friends and family. It’s a time to catch up on the week. Talk about the events of the day or share information on common acquaintances.

It’s understood that visiting is not a formal occasion. No one is going to wait on you, though visiting often involves food. To underscore that point, the best kind of visiting takes place in the kitchen.

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At the farm, visiting often involves sitting near the wood stove, enjoying its warmth. Debbie and the farmer will be there. So will Sarah, the farm’s official ambassador and mouser.

As the wood pops in the stove’s woodbox, the kettle steams and the conversation ebbs and flows. Laughter punctuates the stories told and comfortable silence gives time for thought and reflection.

Visiting may be an art, but it is not pretentious. It’s democratic. Anyone can participate, even you. Go visit with someone you know and polish up those conversation skills you’ve let become rusty.

Making Sorrow

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Back in December, I met a young woman at the wedding of some friends. A month later, I received a cryptic text message – Are you interested in a new project? Never one to turn down something interesting, I said: “Sure, what do you have in mind?”

I soon learned that her long term relationship had ended and that she wanted me to photograph her while she cried. She saw the project as a cathartic opportunity to get the pain out of her system. My first thought was – What a terribly emotional and painful thing to do. My second thought was – What an amazing opportunity to shoot some very powerful images.

We discussed our vision of how the results would look. Dark. Black and White. Stark contrasts. We decided that the location would be her home. I brought a single light and stand as well as a backdrop. She provided a small chair. I thought the simplicity would focus the viewer on her expressions, making their experience profoundly emotional.

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She had a fear that when we started shooting, she would not be able to cry. However, she had a stack of old post cards and love notes that quickly stirred up the pain inside of her. Crying was not a problem at all.

As a photographer, I was focused on shooting. As a human being, I was very cognizant that just in front of me was a woman in pain. I kept reminding myself that I was there to shoot and not comfort her. She wanted to get those emotions out of her. In the end, when she was emotionally spent and we were finished with the shoot, I did give her a hug.

That’s it. That’s how I shot the most gut wrenching shoot of my career. I am glad that I did it. I am honored that she asked me to be her photographer.

Would I do it again? Yes, I would. Becoming better at what you do often means leaving your comfort zone. It means taking risks and learning from the experience. This was one of those opportunities. I would do it again in a heart beat.