I’ve been absent for several weeks mostly due to moving, coming down with bronchitis, photography gigs, and work. So, here’s a succinct update about a hodgepodge of my recent life happenings.
I live in a studio apartment in Downtown Charleston since late April. It’s tiny, either too hot or cold, sometimes it’s noisy like a college dorm with late night drunkards, and I love having my own place, my own space. At first, I wasn’t sure living alone was good for me. Such great silence when I came home in the evenings, but now I’m remembering the peace that can come with quiet. It helps to rejuvenate me.
In the month I’ve lived there, I haven’t taken my microwave out from the box nor have I cooked in the apartment. My fire alarm has gone off at least five times, obviously not from cooking smoke. It’s been from the steam from my showers. I have approximately ten minutes of shower time before the steam gets so hot that the fire alarm will start blaring and then find myself dripping wet, naked, waving a towel beneath the alarm so it will cease. Actually, the shower is the worst part of the apartment. It’s like stepping into a white squall, the water pressure so intense that it creates its own wind current and I’m finding myself batting away the wind blown shower curtain while trying to shampoo, wash, and shave all while trying to remember the minutes remaining before the fire alarm starts sounding. When I get out of the shower, drops of water are streaming down the walls, even beading up on the ceiling. I have yet to change out the head because I’m lazy, I’m too short to reach it for a long enough period of time to switch it out, and it’s such an old place that I’m not sure all shower heads will fit. But I dread the daily skin exfoliations; so, I admit a shower gets skipped on occasion…like once a week. Gross, I know.
Also within this last month, I’ve photographed two weddings (in the same weekend!) that had me in emotional knots. The first one was blessed with beautiful weather and people, but problems came with the second shooter and extended family. Never have I experienced thirty people sit down to watch traditional bridal party and family portraits, let alone all want a picture with the bride, let alone direct people in the photos, all while I’m standing on a 5ft ladder sweating from the heat and humidity. In the end, the bride and groom got so overwhelmed and tired that they didn’t want more than a few shots of themselves together, which disappointed me because I had some creative ideas I had wanted to pursue. My second shooter did a pretty good job…I’d consider upping it to ‘great’ once I see her images. But the hiccups came nonetheless. She called a bit flushed to tell me that she had confused a groomsman for the groom and had taken most of the pictures of the wrong man and I just did my best to keep my composure and facial reaction under control since I was with the bride. Immediately, I told her to switch, take pictures of the bride getting ready and I’d do what I could since it was twenty minutes until ceremony time. I got a bit irked when she didn’t comply with some of my groomsmen portrait ideas, instead opting for what she knew/liked, but what I also felt were too traditional for the photography I do. The other time came when there was confusion about where we’d each be during the ceremony. She ended up coming to a spot that I told her I’d be, and got what I’d consider the best spot for ceremony images. A close friend gently chastised me for my lack of assertiveness with someone I was paying, and said in the future, I need to make it abundantly clear that I’m paying them and if I make a ‘suggestion’ it’s a nice way of saying do as I say and going over the tentative schedule and ideas more. I know things go wrong, but I had blatantly told her the groom’s name (and why she wouldn’t ask if unsure, I don’t know) and told her the two locations she would be at during the ceremony and where I’d be. I just remember when she said she thought the wrong guy was the groom because he was around her a lot, I just said, “Why would the groom be around you unless you were a stripper the night before?” Obviously, the groomsman thought she was hot and was flirting, which was exactly the case.
The next day, the wedding was held in a gazebo in the pouring rain at a park in Spartanburg. Instead of moving the ceremony indoors, all the chairs were moved under the gazebo since it was a small number of guests. Well, that left no moving room for a photographer or at least for one who cares about the shots to get. So, I stayed outside the gazebo the entire time snapping images in the rain wondering where my friend was who had both the umbrella and towels. It surely didn’t help my recovery from bronchitis any.
I also learned I had several images published in the April 2009 issue of Charleston Magazine. It was an article on Jazz Artists of Charleston and their upcoming series at Mistral. However, I found this out in May and cannot find the issue anywhere. I emailed the magazine asking about purchasing an archive issue, but was told they actually completely sold out of April’s issue. So, if anyone comes across one or willing to part with their own, let me know. I’d greatly appreciate it since it’s my first publication in a magazine.
I’m also cited in this month’s issue of Indie Slate (issue 57), a magazine about Indie films. I took some images on the set of Twin Geeks, an indie film in Charleston that is now in post production; so, the director was nice enough to cite me in his paragraph for the magazine.
Currently, I’m one of three photographers photographing JAC’s Jazz series at Mistral. Each night, a band plays two sets, and the series has been nothing short of awesome for me. I always tell people how much I enjoy photographing JAC gigs because I don’t just get paid to take pictures; it’s like having a backstage pass and a free show. So, I’m doing what I love and get to enjoy some great music.
My strategy for this series has been a bit different. Mistral is a restaurant in the Market with a cozy upstairs. So, between the space taken up by instruments and band members along with the audience, it’s a snug fit. The first night was a bit awkward for me because I didn’t want to be obnoxious or or others’ way, but I found my method for the space. I have several sweet spots I try to get to during the set, and usually spend an entire song focused on one member. I have to be a quick study of each person in the band, learn how they move, at what moments in melodic movement they become engrossed in the music, because that’s when it shows in their movement and facial expressions. The challenge is if there is a piano player because he’s tucked back considerably more than the others. But after I’ve focused on each member, I then work on group shots, some possibly kooky shots that may or may not work out, and if there’s still more time, then I just get some more images of the most expressive members. The quick seconds between songs, I try to snap the audience clapping, laughing, smiling, and then stick around for about ten minutes after the set is over to get any candid shots of the band and the audience members’ conversations/interactions with each other or the musicians. Then I pack up my camera, sling on my pack, and head home to download, edit out the bad images (because currently I’m still editing weddings; so, the gigs will have to wait), and backing up the remaining images on a disc.
So…that’s been my life for the past several weeks. I’ve been out of contact, out of touch, with a good many people, but it’s not evasion. I have no internet or cable at the apartment and I’ve been busy. Let me remind everyone I have a full time cubicle job; so, between that, photographing, and editing, I don’t have much time right now for casual chit chat or hanging out. Please, don’t take offense, it’s just how it’ll be for at least several more weeks. Once it slows down, I’m hoping to finally buy some groceries, put together the bookcase, and perhaps take the microwave out of the box.