I photographed this babe just before she entered the world. Remember? She’s here and she fits right in with the rest of her siblings, looking so similar to both her big bro and sister. Wish I had a few shots of the three together. We’ll have to do that soon.
This blog post is part of a 12 month portrait project. Please visit Phyllis Meredith’s blog once you are done here. She is out of West Hartford, CT. I know you’ll love her work. There is always something wonderful happening with her in the wild.
This summer my boys were on the swim team. Zed with the littles and Ez swimming millions of laps every morning. The coaches were great. I’d watch them work with my kids each day then cheer them on all.day.long under the hot sun at every meet. I wanted to give back and hate just handing over a wad of cash… That lacks imagination… and wads of cash I have not.
I had gotten the idea to photograph capped and goggled swimmers against a plain background on my last mini studio session. We discussed this idea (they are on our team also) and mom liked the idea, but it’s not super practical. Their photo session for the year? Gonna be in normal cloths.
But that idea stuck, floated around and I kept wanting to talk w the coach about it. I put it off and put it off until it was the last week of the season. I decided that a thank you portrait might be the excuse I needed to get this idea out of my head. So I asked the head coach if it’d be cool to photograph the coaches. He said sure but it’d have to be that night at the potluck. Oh… well… I had envisioned myself hanging out in the corner with my backdrop during practice. Not at an event with all the parents milling about. I almost bagged the whole thing. But I decided to push myself and just DO IT!
I began stuffing my gear (and kids) in the car. I almost brought a chair but forgot that nonessential while wrangling boys, towels, goggles, GF dinner AND dessert into the car. We arrived early so the boys could swim and I left the backdrop in the car. It’s so conspicuous and leaving it behind is really my MO. I would rather find a good spot then lug a bunch of equipment around. Against the fence could work… naw. Then I found it. Just inside the boys’ bathroom. The wall is painted a bright green, but looked to be a good middle gray. Zone 4 or 5. Whatever photo speak you wanna talk. And the lighting would be natural. Perfect.
I then saw my first assistant coach, a kid that lives nearby and is Zed’s idol. I figured I should get a feel for the light and jump in and just DO IT. I didn’t really have a good reason for taking the photos. Which is what made this so difficult for me. I figured I’d give them to the coaches as a thank you and wanted to keep that as a surprise or thought that might be a weird reason to give for taking a photo. And in reality I just wanted to photograph and I’m not sure how many people would get that. I just want to create. I have no person to sell to, no gallery to hang these, no stock agency asking for photos (do they pay money anymore anyway?). I just wanna do it. One coach asked what the photos were for (she wasn’t super thrilled to have her’s taken, go fig). One of the parents had suggested earlier that I send them in for the end of year slide show. Ok. Yes, the slide show- “These are for the slide show” I said.
Since I can’t carry around this bathroom I’ve got plans to make a spot like this here at my place. Just in case you were wondering, this is all I want to photograph right now. The fact that I almost didn’t take these because it wasn’t convenient or easy or even comfortable blows me away. Once I got started it was just like any other shoot. Just me, doin’ my thing.
“At the Pool” after his 1st and last official little kid swim meet
“Disgusting food? What disgusting food does everyone like?” He said “You know like McDonalds?” Oh, that. So I explained how fried food is so tasty that people love it even though it is really bad for us. That, and the fact that advertisements and brand names are very influential. How super processed junk food is, for the most part, invented in chemistry labs by scientists, not chefs. I always figured American “cheese” was made to help keep the US populace from starving during the Depression… high in fat and calories… why else would anyone want to eat it? But, no, it was made as a convenience food (comes in slices, melts easily, shelf stable) in the 50’s and became a household name despite the flavor, thanks to great advertising, in the 60’s. Fake flavoring must have been so new and fresh. It was a novelty and sought after, advertised on packaging rather than hidden. Now it’s hidden in the ever popular “natural flavoring” which is code for chemicals derived from things of this earth. If you ever wondered why people are growing more gardens, raising chickens, goats, pigs and cows the loss of trust in our food system is the reason.
What about bad music? The music we listen to in our house is decidedly under produced and not super popular. Not top 40. Not the Frozen sound track (which my boys HATE with a passion). We listen to songs written and created by the performers singing and playing them. This was a bit more difficult to explain, but ended up sounding a lot like the discussion on food that we just had. Producers, music execs and people who have made formulas (music scientists?) put music together and advertisers (essentially) create the look of artists. They create mega stars, something that the masses will undoubted consume. I told them that it is difficult for me to connect (or trust) an artist that is singing someone else’s words or playing another’s tune. I think music, because it is art, should be made from an authentic place. It should be real and reflect an artist’s life experience no matter how absurd or silly.
That, more or less, was what I discussed with my kids while driving home from the pool the other night. Say yes to Indie Rock and Slow Food.