As much as I love shooting engagements & weddings, work for small businesses is a welcome break. I had the fortune of shooting portraits for the studio of Alexander Raab, a violin teacher here in Denver. He needed images to use on his new website and for upcoming communications with clients, so we gathered a small group of his students for a little outdoor practice session. What a delight to be greeted early on a Sunday morning with this light and such well-behaved kiddos.
Gels are fairly new to me - I was introduced last year by way of my product photography gig at Interweave Press. I've been wanting to play with them on humans for a few months, and finally got the chance when I shot Denver band Abrams last month. I used three incandescent continuous lights and nothing more...would love to try this with strobes soon!
Much of the photography that I've done lately has been shooting live shows with local bands. I've been working with a radio station called KRFC this summer to shoot local festivals including Sonic Bloom and the Denver Underground Music Showcase. I've even gotten to cross off one of my bucket list activities - shooting Red Rocks, not just once this summer but twice. It's something close to my heart because of an offhand comment a former lover once made: "shooting Red Rocks sounds like a good idea, but it might not be realistic." Au contraire: it's not only realistic - it's easy when you dump a naysayer for someone who actually plays Red Rocks. The irony is beautiful.
But what's most relevant here is that I've upgraded from an ancient Canon 100-300mm f/5.6 L telezoom to a 70-200mm f/4 L. You can see the difference when you compare the Sunboy photos (old lens) to the Rose Quartz ones - the difference in sharpness is like comparing a butter knife with a machete. (It's even more obvious to me because I see the ones I DON'T publish.) Being that the new lens costs less than $500 second-hand, I feel so foolish for waiting so long to upgrade. It's also turned out wonderfully for portraits, and I'm not missing the IS right now. I highly recommend the 70-200mm f/4 L if you don't have the dosh to drop on an IS or f/2.8 version - it's not at all spenny for quality glass, and though f/2.8 and IS would be nice, this is a great compromise.
Next on my shopping list: a better quality wide-angle...I smell a 16-35mm in my future. Any not-too-exxy recommendations?
Zea Stallings is a picture-book folk singer: curly hair, a slow stride and an ardent gaze. When the 20-year-old speaks, he spills abstract, grandiose ideals that might cause the more cynical among us to smirk.
"I don't want to be tied to a label, you know? I don't want to identify as folk, or soul, or anything. I just want to make music."
But by far, the most striking thing about Zea is his voice. This voice can silence a buzzing room of people who don't even know his name. It skips across stanzas and darts through heavy subject matter without trivialising the stories he weaves. And what stories they are: Zea's idealism complements his musical mastery to great effect, and it's easy to forget he's still too young to drink in some parts of the world.
I met Zea through another stellar singer-songwriter, Colleen Evalyn, and despite my preference for electronic music - I've recently started DJing - I was immediately taken with his live performance. I knew I had to photograph him, so we put our heads together and created a shoot in corners of the Denver CBD that lent the shoot a country town feel. Can you believe these were all shot in the middle of a busy city the size of Melbourne?
Chuck him a listen and tell me you're not impressed. I hope you enjoy the images while you're at it.
Photography and post-processing: Chanelle Leslie, on Ilford XP2 35mm film as well as digital.