Last week was a week and a half. It went by in a whoosh, which is always the way of a DLWS week. We start off on Sunday afternoon, clean our sensors, have a cookie and Boom! It’s Thursday.
We were in Moab, with lots of reds rocks, but the twist of the week was going to this little ghost type junk pile of a town called Cisco. I realize that last sentence might offend the 3 people who live in Cisco, but there ain’t no getting around itâ€”the burg is basically a big car garden by the side of a very lonely county road.
But I loved it. Give me old, dilapidated, run down and rusted out any day of the week. Why is it that photographers look at a place most people would figure to be a likely setting for a crime and go, “Cool!”?
Got home late Thursday night. Had a bit of a family weekend, thankfully. Monday. Up at 3. Back on a plane. Oh well. Staggered through LaGuardia Airport. For whatever reason, I tripped the metal detectors, and I wasn’t even trying to pull off a Spinal Tap. Dunno. My fillings, maybe? Had to get frisked and wanded. Generally speaking, when you hear somebody snap on a rubber glove immediately behind you, it’s not gonna be a good day. I tend to disappear, and imagine the wand thingy is the thingy that Bones used to use on Star Trek. “Dammit, Jim, I’m a doctor, not a miracle worker!”
There was great stuff in Cisco, even though I’ve never been a very good “thing” photographer. I tend to need people, context, story line, that sort of stuff. I’m liking photographing things of late, though. Maybe I’m tired of 30 years of people asking, “How long is this gonna take?” (Answer: “As little time as possible!” Big smile.)
It’s wonderful, actually, being a people photog. I’ve met amazing folks. But it has it’s downside, too. I got introduced to the vagaries of photographing very important people a long time ago. My first cover of Sports Illustrated was of Herschel Walker. If you remember Herschel, you’re either old, a real football fan, from Georgia, or a bobsledder. Herschel was switching leagues, and headed for the Dallas Cowboys. This was big news.
To work with somebody like Herschel, you need to deal with a sports agent. Some are wonderful. Others are like gum on the bottom of your shoe. The situation here was that the deal was done, but the ink wasn’t dry on the signatures, so the only cover I could shoot was of Herschel with the Dallas helmet halfway on. I’m not kidding. Only game in town. Shoot it with the helmet just off his head or don’t shoot it.
Not one to let the fact that I knew the picture was gonna suck before I even took my cameras out of the bag stand in the way of a cover fee, I shot it. Met Herschel, who was a great athlete but a bit of an odd duck. He kept referring to himself in the third person, as in, “Herschel has to do what’s best for Herschel.”
Right. And Joe has to do what’s best for Joe and shoot this job and get back on a plane to the planet earth.
Anyway, high angle, 3×4 soft box in close, out of focus greenery in the background, and we were done. It alerted me to the fact that a soulless snap of a photograph could do just fine as a cover of a national magazine. Covers are not photographs, they are trained seals, designed to make noise and entertain. They need to jump through certain hoops, like being visible on a newsstand from 30 yards in a sea of other pubs trumpeting weight loss solutions, have large swatches of out of focus monochrome so star spangled type and a sticker announcing this month’s subscriber contest actually enhances the picture, and a bland little corner to accommodate the bar coding.
Cisco, by comparison, made no such demands. Cisco was, in fact, a very good friend of mine.
(This is another one of those weeks. Here teaching at Photoshop World. Whoah! Pretty crazy. Lots of fun. Time flying. More tk.)