On windy days such as been the case the first two days of this years Master's, it can make me somewhat wistful when it comes to the idea of a photography studio. Through the years I have come across several spaces that have suddenly come available, or in terms of downtown Augusta, spaces that have been vacant for many years, and stood outside of the door, checked every window, checked certain apps on my phone to see when and where the sun rises or sets in relation to those windows and dreamt of what could be. Enterprise Mill, the White building, that secret room in the Miller Theatre, large, small, and everything in between. I think Rachel has heard the phrase "I think I found it" so many times, well, at this point it has gone beyond any sort of response, even the "yes dear."
The moment that I decided I wanted a building to call my own was solidified when I saw the movie Smoke. There is a scene where Harvey Keitel's character is shown taking a picture of his storefront , an act that he has religiously executed every day that he has been open. One single picture, every morning before he opens for business, capturing the passage of time and people as the day unfolds to be catalogued, revisited, and remembered. That, and a somewhat perverse joy I would garner from sweeping in front of the entrance have lit a fire in me to someday own a studio of my own.
The problem outside of the obvious cost and all of that jazz, is I don't how much I would use it. A studio for the sole purpose of photography is wonderful, don't get me wrong, but to look at the same walls again and again as a backdrop would get tedious. I could purchase different backdrops, make different backdrops (that would be fun), and I have even looked into taking some sort of theatre class for set design and building, but then that is an altogether different path I do not have the time for with a wife, children, and developing business. Or to put it in another simpler way, safe. I am not trying to knock those that do have studio, far from that. I am truly envious that they have a professional environment in which to consistently engage their clients with a consistent lighting and weather environment. Being beholden to Mother Nature in Augusta is not a stress free way to schedule a photo session in which your client is doing their best not to melt in the heat or your wife is doing her best to apply makeup when her fingers don't want to work. All of which leads me to this photo session you have been scrolling through as reading this, our Senior session with the lovely Mackenzie.
If you could not tell by my writing alone, I have some form of attention deficit thingy. My mind is always going, and the way that it has manifested itself over the years is the development of what I like to call my "mental camera." Everyone and everything is subject to the whims of this mental camera that saw it's formative years in my adolescence with Sports Illustrated and National Geographic and later on in what I call my "Charleston Internship." Without going too far down that path, as it is a subject for another blog, those experiences taught me that there are stories everywhere waiting to be told and that most often if you look beyond (or behind in the case of Charleston) the facades there are "sets" or backdrops everywhere if you are willing to see them. Or "slow down" shall we say to discover them.
What you have seen here with Mackenzie are area's that some of you pass by every day. We started at the grassy field across from the Lady Antebellum Amphitheater that once was used for overflow event parking, golfers practicing their swings, drone pilots practicing their skills, and every once and awhile young kids learning to ride their first dirt bikes. Unfortunately, that source of community coming together is now being transformed into some outdoor shopping center. The next spot was the retaining wall and immediate surroundings behind the Lady A and the Kroger. Finishing up the session we utilized the building and parking lot of the Health Center Credit Union next door.
This is the life of a natural light photographer without a studio who does his best to not repeat and reuse the same locations over and over and over (looking at you photographers who use that damn train depot downtown). Sure it takes work, there is a lot of slow driving and constant stopping, sorry for those of you who are unlucky enough to be behind me when I am on the "hunt." But it takes me out of my safe zone, forces me to be truly present in the moment with a client and prevents me from just going through the motions and placing my clients in the same positions and poses as the ones before. Regardless of the backdrop, the point of what I do is to capture the beauty of my client, the outward and most importantly the inner beauty. And that can happen anywhere, because you bring that beauty with you wherever I place you. I just want to make the pictures as unique as you are. And what better way to show you that thought process than with Mackenzie. She nailed it, I just happened to be the one that captured it.
Model: Mackenzie L.
Photography: Patrick Biestman