I generally work in-studio, a place where I can dial my lights to f/2.8 at 1/125 and create exactly what I expect to see. If I need a bit more sharpness, I dial my lights toward f/8; I place my subject where I want them and give them a reason to be there; at this point, if I see something I don’t like, I remove it; if I can’t remove it, I crop it; if I can’t crop it, I don’t shoot it.
And while the occasional two-year-old gives me a run for my money, it was football season that rocked my photographic world to the core. I can’t dial the sun to output the f-stop I want; I can’t output flash to put pretty catchlights in the shadows of players eyes under their helmets as they run the ball toward the end zone; I can’t re-do the play if I miss a shot or the sun casts unsightly shadows; the field is littered with distractions beyond my control; the moms standing next to me want the shot of their son even IF I can’t crop out that car parked in the background…yadda yadda yadda.
One of my biggest frustrations at the beginning of the season was coaches stepping in front of my lens. So finally, rather than be frustrated, I challenged myself with an assignment: create a portrait from a coach crossing in front of my lens. I initially picked Coach Wiley because of his tattoo — the image I envisioned was the line-up of players before the whistle framed by Coach Wiley’s tattoo in the foreground. But he kept moving. He’s always moving, that guy. Coach Wiley is Movement with a capital M, and the more he moves, the more determined I became to freeze him (digitally).
His tattoo started it, but it was his shadow that made the portrait.
[All of this to explain to the Gladiators why our team photos in the client section of my website are peppered with Coach Wiley’s tattoo.]
moxie noun [informal]: force of character, determination or nerve