© Barbara Lawrence
Over the weekend I had the pleasure of taking a small, elite group of photographers to the rodeo for a sports and action workshop, which always involves environmental portraits. It started in the learning center, and after an hour of multimedia shows we went off to the ranch, and the weather was gorgeous. Then along came Murphy. The rain was so hard, they postponed the event by an hour and 15 minutes. While students were hiding in my automobile, I decided to put them in one of the barns. Barbara made this wonderful photograph while waiting for the rain to stop. For me, watching another photographer constantly looking and communicating with, in this case the cowboys, the wranglers, the owners, etc, is great. And the icing on the cake is one fine photograph. Here’s an email that I received from Barbara;
“I had a great time and also have many dreadful images. Interesting how the color of the light changed as the riders moved around the ring.
I think that my favorite was the man in the barn doorway. I have several with wonderful light. These are almost untouched, except for black and white in Lightroom”
© Joe DiMaggio
I had an opportunity to photograph Paul Newman six or seven times. One of the most beautiful things about Paul is he was a regular guy. He rolled up his sleeves (sometimes a sleeveless T-shirt), got dirt under his fingernails, and treated everyone as if they were his equal. Not pretentious, not a superstar (but of course he was!). In an impromptu environmental portrait I asked him why he was so comfortable in front of the lens; whether it was film, or film. He said to me when he was making a photograph, he tried to put the person at ease by saying “You’re beautiful, and you’re as pretty as you feel”. Please understand I didn’t tape record the conversation, so obviously, I’m leaving a few things out. He then said to me “Sometimes the camera falls in love with the person you’re photographing, and you cannot make a mistake. If the camera loves you, it’s all good”. Hannah is obviously no Paul Newman, but the camera loves her. I always remember that I am not the most important part of the photo; it’s all about the person you’re photographing, both their inner beauty and their outer persona.
Equipment used: Canon 7D camera, 24/105 zoom 100 macro lens, Dynalite 500 watt second Powerpack, studio head rhyme light, octagon modifier, Dynalite bare bulb, two silver reflectors, and a Manfrotto air lightstand.
ISO 100, 1/200th of a second, f8.
© Joe DiMaggio
“It’s not dark yet but it’s gettin’ there
I was born here and I’ll die here against my will
I know it looks like I’m movin’ but I’m standin’ still”
© Joe DiMaggio
To all the ships at sea, working photographers make photographs for many reasons. One of the number one reasons is money, and it’s not a great motivator. Once every four, five, or six years, you have an opportunity to meet not only a great and powerful person, but a genuinely beautiful human being and you’re asked to do an environmental portrait. In this particular case, that person was Vito Russo. In my opinion, he was possibly the most powerful person on the planet, when it came to being an advocate not only for gay rights, but for pushing the envelope to seek a cure for the dreaded HIV/AIDS. I would love to tell you that we were extremely close friends, but that would be a gross exaggeration. I met him two or three times before I photographed him, and as with all great relationships, my love for him was predicated on respect. Last night at about 10:30, with my eyes starting to drip blood as I was editing 80 gigs of video (throwing out the unacceptable footage), I turned the TV on and there was Vito. Somewhere towards the middle of the documentary, up popped one of the 300 photos I had taken of him over the years. As a filmmaker, I was extremely proud that they held that photo and then zoomed in, and for HBO it was shown for an eternity. Then again, they used it at the end of the piece. Twenty-four years ago, the last thing I remember is Vito and I in a warm embrace at the end of the shoot. Photography is more important than money; it’s history, visual literacy that will not allow us to forget. Sometimes, even I forget the power and beauty of a still photograph.