Actually, I don’t really. Every year Kim is amazed how I can sit by and not even notice the 3000+ lbs of Halloween candy that the kids bring home… maybe that’s why we had so much around the house.
Seriously though, today was another Sunday afternoon that really wasn’t about the subject matter. Friend, and photographer extraordinaire Jeff Stubblefield has been being a lot of work and producing amazing results with his home-made light box. So I figured I’d steal the idea, make my own and see what came out of it. I set everything up using a big cardboard box, some sheets of banner paper and my SB-900s.
So I spent some time lost in lighting and aperture settings, another training day. Some pretty sweet still life huh?
A few more shots can be seen here… on my Grasp The Moment Photography Facebook page
Below is an interview I took part in with Colin Butterworth of the “Just Takin’ Pictures” group on Facebook…” Usually I’m the one doing the interviews, but this month the tables were turned and it was my turn in the hot seat…
A conversation with Brian Walter
By Colin Butterworth in Just Takin’ Pictures
We have a treat this month. Instead of Brian interviewing one of us, I have interviewed Brian. I couldn’t pass up the chance to return to New York to do the interview.
I had the great pleasure to meet Brian in 2010 when my wife and I visited New York. Brian was so gracious to pick us up from the airport and take us to our hotel in Manhattan. Not only that, he gave us some amazing insights into New York. I think this shows what a great person Brian is and I am thrilled to call him a friend.
Anyway, ladies and gentlemen, I give you the man, the legend, Brian Walter.
1. Standard question, what is in your camera bag? What equipment and programs do you use? Also, if you could add one thing to your camera bag, what would it be?
I’m very happy to say the bag is getting pretty full. I’ve got two bodies, the Nikon D90 and the Nikon D7000. My glass collection is growing, with a Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.5, a Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR DX, a Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 AF-S and the newest, a Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 HSM. I’ve got two SB900s and wireless transmitters, no name, I’m still saving up for Pocket Wizards. Ive got an awesome set of macro filters which I got for $20.00 off EBAY. Oh, and safety pins, a flashlight, tie wraps and tons of other little nic-naks.
Being a nerd, I custom built my PC to suit my photography. Its powered by a 2.9ghz quad core and 4 gig of RAM. I have a dedicated 2.0 Tb drive for my photography work, which is backed up on a 2.0 TB external. I’ve also got a 120BG hard drive that is a dedicated scratch disc for Photoshop and my RAW file cache. I’d be a mess without Adobe LightRoom, it’s the center of my photo-editing world. That’s augmented with Adobe Photoshop, but every since the release of LightRoom 3.x, I find myself using PS less and less.
If I could add one thing????? OMG, how could I choose??? Well, I guess what I find myself dreaming mostly about these days is the Nikon 24mm f/1.4G AF-S ED.
2. Most people have different stories behind why they take photos, what is your story? What lead you to photography?
I guess you can say it runs in the family. My grandfather was a photographer, and my mother was too. I grew up with her always taking photos of us.
The biggest factor in myself turning to photography was when I discovred that through it. I finally had something to share. I could never play an instrument, or sing, which really was fine with me since never liked the spotlight much anyway, but I discovered that by staying in the shadows, camera in hand, I could capture what was going on Afterwards, when the music had faded and the equipment was packed up, it was my images that brought people back to that moment. Recently when I was working with a bride getting ready I heard her squeal with delight and say to her bridemaids “He’s photographing my shoes!!!” and she was so happy I was paying attention to the little things.
3. You brought this group together when you created “Just Takin’ Pictures”. What motivated you to create the group?
I am a knowledge junkie. I love picking people’s brains and learning all I can. I feel that everyone has something to contribute, from the beginner to the most seasoned pro. I also learn a lot from looking at other people’s work. Whether it’s the use of light, or the way subjects are posed in a frame, I study other people’s work, and find ways to apply it to my own. I feel it’s the best way to grow. Even if I don’t comment, I look at every image that gets posted not only in the group, but on everyone’s pages. I’ve spent twenty minutes sometimes pouring over every detail. In your case for example, I doubt I’m ever going to be in the locations you’ve been, and see the sights you see, but I am always studying your expertise in composition and it flashes through my head when I look through my own lens.
4. Each month you have presented these wonderful interviews, of our fellow group members, with insightful and thoughtful questions. Is this your natural talent shining through as a journalist, or have you had some training?
Oh no way, I’m no Edward Morrow, I just like to talk. (Before I go on, I want to point out that this idea was borrowed from a photo forum I was on. I loved the idea, but felt it was never used to it’s full potential.) As I said I’m a knowledge junkie and I’ve discovered over the years – mostly in talking to musicians – that artists usually don’t know how to put an answer into words. However if you approach it from a round about way, you’ll get a lot more insight into it. Instead of finding out why someone did one thing, find out what makes them tick and you’ll get a much clearer picture. There is so much talent in our group, and everyone deserves to be in the spotlight, it’s just my pleasure to help with that.
5. What is your favourite and least favourite thing to photography? Also, if you could photography anything in the world, what would you take a photo of?
My favorite thing to photography? Life. I did the flowers and trees and gravestones thing for a very long time and I’ve grown bored with it. These days I love seeing the joy and excitement of life reflected in some one’s eye. The passion a musician gives his art, the smile of a happy couple, the laughter of a child. Of course, it goes without saying that above all else, seeing my kids and my family happy and laughing as I take the shot is the best thing in the world. My least favorite thing? I don’t know if I could point a specific thing, but more like specific situations. It’s that client who won’t co-operate. It’s when my kids are in that mood and won’t smile, or at least feign interest. And worst of all, it’s when the god damn stage lights aren’t where I need them to be, there’s too much smoke and the freaking mic stands are in the way!
If I could give up all responsibilities? Photograph whatever I wanted??? Well, See you guys later, I’m going on tour. Don’t even care with who, I’m just hitting the big stage, sneaking in the shadows at the Hollywood Bowl or the Royal Albert Hall waiting for “that moment”
6. You have a wonderful family who obviously mean a lot to you. How has/does your family affect your photography?
Wonderful doesn’t cut it, I’ve got the best family in the world and I can see it reflected in every photo I take. The love and inspiration they give me what keeps me going. My two sons, and Kim’s son as well, are my source of joy and relaxation when I’m not working. They keep me young at heart and remind that the simplest things in life can make you the happiest.
On top of that I’ve got the love of a fantastic woman who is just what I need in life. She laughs at my crazy, creative ideas, and then immediately starts working with me trying to them into reality. She’s also my business partner, and she handles the stuff I can’t even begin to deal with. Between sessions she’s handling prices, advertising, and booking the next session. Once we get to the session she handles everything from setting up the next shot (which is mandatory for large weddings) to fusing with dresses, fixing ties, and giving out corsages. I’m serious when I say I have no idea how I could try to do anything without her. Without her, Grasp The Moment Photography would still be an idea in my head.
7. I personally think you live in the greatest city I have ever visited! I found there were endless photo opportunities there during my brief visit. Do you ever find yourself struggling for subject matter of lacking inspiration to take photos in New York?
Yes, NYC, being the capital of the planet, is always full of things to see and do. I don’t live in the middle of the hustle and bustle, though. My neighborhood is a quiet one, with lots of trees and no skyscrapers. With that being said, being a photographer in NYC sometimes presents more problems than it solves. For starters, the competition is fierce. There are over 8 million people in the five boros, and almost as many digital cameras. Everything is big in NYC and weddings are no exception. Seeing that I’m still just starting out, I’m nowhere near ready to break into the market in my own hometown. Space is also an issue, living in a second floor apartment mean there’s hardly any room for us, forget considering a home studio.
8. Inspiration can come in many guises, artists, works of art, people, family etc. and not only one thing can inspire us to take photos. From where or what do you draw your inspiration from?
I find the best inspiration comes from being confident in yourself, your abilities and being lost in te moment. Worrying about details, and anything else except for what you’re doing, turns photography an arduous chore. That’s why I think learning about your gear, and how it works, is such a vital part of the process. I find most photographers want to hurry up and get over with the basics, but when your equipment can become an extension of yourself, and you can command it and make it do what you want, when you want, you will find yourself in a zone where the images just begin to flow.
9. You have been active in taking concert photos in recent times and you are also branching out to weddings and other photography sessions. You are also a certified professional. Where would you like your photography to take you in the future? Do you think it could be a viable career?
I don’t know about a full time career, at least for now. I’ve got too many financial responsibilities and obligations to jump in feet first and quit my day job. I wouldn’t mind picking up some more weddings – we already have some book for the summer of 2012 – and some more session work. But I’ll always be true to my love of concert photography, and I’m sure you’ll still see me on the side of a stage, camera in hand.
10. We have unfortunately come to my final question. As we touched on in my interview I had the privilege to travel around the world on my honeymoon which was a trip of a lifetime. If you had the chance to travel around the world what locations would you like to visit and capture through your lens?
Well it’s no secret that I left my heart in San Francisco. I was there last summer and fell in love with the town a million times over. I could very easily see myself living on the west coast, driving through the amazing beaches, mountains and deserts of California, taking it all in, and seeing what other moments I could grasp.
Now Brian, please select three of your images you’d like to share with us…
Only three photos to share???
Ok … first is this one
This one from my latest wedding. It was done after
the ceremony as we were doing family shots. The sun was setting, and I was worrying about loosing the natural light for all the family shots I did. As Kim ran around getting “who is in this photo” and “who is in the next one.” I kept one eye on that sun. Thankfully it worked and I got everything I needed to get in. As we were wrapping up, I looked at the sun again and suddenly saw it differently. I quickly grabbed the bride and groom and positioned them with the golden rays of the sun behind them. I don’t even think I told them to kiss, they were just that much in love. Why this photo represents to me, is an accomplishment on my part, because it was more than a “happy accident” I knew what I wanted it to look like and I what I needed to do to get that result.
Next I had to go back to my love of music…
One of those moments when the lights hit just right, the mic stand wasn’t in the way, everything lined up. Everyone else on stage seemed to move just out of the shot, and I took it. It just so happened to be Johnny Grubb’s last east coast show, which makes the shot even that much more special.
My crazy guys. There are no fake smiles in this shot, no forced expression, just pure goofiness, which is where my boys are the happiest. Being crazy, loving life, and enjoying our time together. Its photos like this that just keep me looking for the next shot.
And then there’s some loss just to balance things out. - Lou Reed
That line ends Lou Reed’s masterpiece album “Magic and Loss“. If you haven’t heard it, you may find it a bitter pill to swallow at first, except for that time when you need it. When your heart is heavy and breaking with grief, it just works.
This has been a week of loss. A personal loss hit my children, something they will deal with for a long time. A great woman, their grandmother, who was generous and kind and filled their lives with love and happiness departed too soon. Their world, and ours, is a little sadder without her here.
I was also stunned to learn of the passing of fellow blogger and photographer Charlane G. Her blog Ramblins… was a favorite of mine. Her southern charm and sassiness reminded me of my Grandmother – maybe that’s why I was drawn to her. I admired her photography style as well, and I’ll admit, I often tried to imitate it. Visit her amazing flickr stream to see for yourself.
So if Lou was right, and it’s a balance of things, then we’ve expressed the loss, so where’s the magic? For that, I’ll give you some images of smiles and laughter from a day at the park. And no.. the dogs aren’t ours.. they belong to some great people who were nice enough to let three happy children invade their dog park for a while.
I’m gonna work like I don’t need the money … I’m gonna laugh like I’m not afraid to cry … I’m gonna dance like nobody’s watching … I’m gonna love while I still got the time
Sometimes it’s just stuff. Sometimes there’s no hidden meaning, no deeper message that lies beneath the surface of what you see at first glance. Sometimes a rubber duckie is really just a rubber duckie. There are days when that’s just the mood I’m in. Light. Easy. Simple. And maybe just a tad bit goofy at the end. Enjoy.
“A friend is one who knows you and loves you just the same.”
Which is why I guess Eugene didn’t bat an eye when I showed up at his place with my camera. “Come on, I need photos.” I told him, and we drove to the park. He picked a spot he liked, a spot he usually went to on days where there wasn’t much to do. He sat on the bench and put up me with snapping shots of him. We chatted about this and that, enjoying the slight chill in the autumn air.
I had some photos in mind when I thought of shooting Eugene, but right away I could tell he was comfortable and didn’t my prodding so I decided to get my ideas of of the way. We did a few things, and then I said what was on my mind. With out hesitation, Eugene took the hearing aid of his ear, and held it in his hands. As he did, he shrugged off my concerns and said “It’s a part of me… and there would be no way to capture me without showing it.”
We moved on, walking along the park. He sat at a bench under a large tree and looked up. “I’m an architect.” he said. “I love just sitting and looking at the structure of things. Why don’t people look at things anymore? When was the last time people just stopped and looked at clouds?”
We wandered along, along the baseball fields. Eugene looked over the fields, told stories of his old high school football days, and gazed through the fences.
As we headed towards the playgrounds, we chatted about this and that, the quite unimportant chatter of friends. I met Eugene only a few years ago, but since then he’s become a rock in my life. The buddy that’s always there, always ready to help. He’s shown up to clean out my parent’s basement – hardhat in hand, to my kid’s birthdays and to many a movie night. He’s as quick with a joke, as he is with a solid piece of advice.
Eugene was the one who suggested the swings. He swung back and forth and I looked at him thinking that he found a way to remember back to the days when being in a playground was the epicenter of joyful day. The sun set behind us, and the chill in the air got stronger, so we packed up and headed back to his car.
To me, nothing is as awesome as earning money from my photography. If you look back to the very first post of this blog, perhaps you’ll see why. In a way, it’s the ultimate validation of my work. Not only is someone saying “Hey, you’re not bad” but they’re saying, “Wow, you’re so not so bad, I’m gonna pay you to take my picture.”
So I had money from the past three or four gigs, and some free time, so Kim and I headed to B&H.
If you’ve never been to B&H, let me explain that for a photographer walking into B&H is just like a sugar craved kid walking into a candy store. There’s stuff everywhere. On top of that, there’s more stuff. Lenses, filters, flashes, tripods, lights … it’s a never ending cornucopia of gadgets and goodies. The only way to make it out alive… and with the rent money safely still in the bank account is to go in with a plan. So Kim and browsed a little, walking under the bins of filled orders that whized by overhead, but checked off the list I had prepared… especially the lens I wanted.
Photographer, singer, and salesperson, Manny, even commented I was making a good choice when i bought the Nikon 35mm F1.8. I had been reading all over the web about it – especially on Ken Rockwell’s site and I couldn’t wait to get it home and see what it could do.
Needless to say it didn’t disappoint. It’s amazing in lower light conditions, and the DOF is fantastic. But that’s photography jargon… I took some shots walking around…especially after Kim finished setting up her curio cabinet… which then of course was interrupted by me having to make dinner. A shame, but the apple pork chops were delicious…
JRR Tolkien told us “It’s a dangerous business going out your front door.”
If that’s the case, I was thrown off the cliff this morning when I bitched that my internet was down, and all the things I should be doing wasn’t going to get down. “Pick a new word” she responded, and I knew right away she was right. What the hell was I doing inside on a beautiful summer’s day in NYC anyway? I went to the study, grabbed the can & drew the word.
Something about a door always sparks a curiosity in me. When those hinges creak open, what’s on the other side? Who has the key to that door in their pocket? I get insane desire to peep through the keyhole, spy the world that exists on the other side.
Doesn’t everyone want to look inside a medicine cabinet when in someone else’s bathroom?
In the end though, strange doors are still magical and mystical, but could never to compare the greatest door of all… you’re own.
I wonder what a road feels like.
A road is the thing that takes us from point A to point B and back again. It speeds by under the tires of our big fuel guzzling SUVs without even a glimmer of appreciation. Sure, perhaps we’ll glance out the windows at the trees whizzing by, ooh and ahh at the houses and scenic views, but mostly they go unnoticed.
Today I left the house with a new word in my pocket. Its a word that should have been so simple that I could have completed it by the time I reached the corner, but something wasn’t there today, I couldn’t see anything through my lens, no matter how far I walked, especially when it came to seeing that word. I walked farther along until I came to a pretty busy road that runs through a park, one of the biggest roads in Queens. It gets pretty wooded, the two lane black top snaking through a forest which most of the area would look like if not for the work of man.
The word I had come to look for had already slipped so far from my mind that I could barely even remember it. I carried my camera in my hand listening to the whizzing cars rush past me. In between them, the silence of the woods returned only to be shattered within seconds by another passing car. As I walked, I became aware of the road. My eyes drifted along and I began to notice not only the road, and as I said, how ignored and unloved it was, but even worse what was left along side of it. Trash littered the curb, things tossed out a car window, discarded by the owner.
We live in a society being eaten alive by our own garbage. I don’t want to interject my own feelings on global warming or how we’re beating our planet to a horrid death, so I’ll just leave it as saying I was appalled by the litter around me.
I looked at all the trash around me, I looked at it through the lens of my camera, and when I was done, I did something I never do when shooting, I destroyed what I found. Using a plastic bag I found at my feet, I cleaned it up. I picked up the trash laying along the road, stuck it in the bag, and threw it all in the garbage can supplied by the nice people who run the park
My life is in a bad place right now, I have little control of my fate, I’m desperately looking for break, praying for a way to get back on my feat, with very little that I can actually take control of. But this… this I was able to fix… so I did.
Yes, I know it will be back tomorrow, and no I wasn’t able to get all of it, but the bits that I did not only made me feel good, but made that stretch of road that much nicer to look at … if someone else would ever decide to slow down and appreciate it.
Oh … and I left the toilet… it was too big to carry.
I drew a vital word for my family from the can. History. Spend more than five minutes with my father sometime and you’ll know why. He loves the stuff. I don’t think “buff” is a strong enough word for his addiction to it, even though he was called that in book once. Hey, how many other people do you know with a historical marker on their home? Ok, it’s not a real one, but then again, that in it’s self is the perfect marriage between my fathers passion for history and pension for humor.
Growing up history wasn’t really a subject in school, rather a way of life. While most the kids in school left that and other studies in school for the summer, we saw out fair share of civil war battlefields, forts, museums and every other farm house that somehow shaped the nation that my folks could think of. For their anniversary a few years back, my siblings and I were photographed on top of a cannon, a playful reminder of our vacations.
My dad is to this day the smartest man I ever met, and can do all the smart guy stuff, name all the presidents, list the states and their capitols, and tell you who did what, where and why in almost any town you’re driving through at the moment. He loves sharing his knowledge, which has its interesting moments, but unwittingly he shared much more than that with me, the love of history.
My love of history isn’t a love of dates, facts and figures, although I can rattle off dates, places and set lists of more than quite a few Grateful Dead shows. Living history is what amazes me, the fact that these facts and figures are actually people, who lived actual lives and did actual things. And for me, the amazing part of this kind of history is that is never ends. We’re living some one’s history right this moment. Our whole lives are just that, history.
Today I had to discuss a piece of my history that I really didn’t want to, but I did because I know the strange relationship between history and the future. How what happens in the past, can affect the decisions and our choices in the future. How will we ever fully appreciate our future until we can fully appreciate our history?
So what do I photograph to capture the work history? Some have called my parents house “a musueum” so sure I could drag out my dad’s Civil War rifles or the books upon books he has about the subject, but instead I choose the things that make up the history we are living. The first letter Bob ever sent me, which I always kept. The bottle caps in the bowl on my coffee table. The cook book my mother has had for years. Some of my grandmother’s photographs she kept in a little album.
This is the history I love, the history I would love to live over again.
… Goes one of my favorite Max Creek songs… and it’s the first thing I thought of when my hand went into the coffee can this afternoon.
For those who don’t know about the coffee can – or forgot about it, like I tried to – it’s a little game I’ve created for myself. A while back I wrote a gagillion words on tiny slips of paper and stuffed them into a coffee can, which I promised myself that I’d raid the can every few days and shoot whatever the paper said. Like most promises I break, I followed for awhile, but then tapered off, hoping no one would notice. Great idea, except for this one bone head friend who brings it up to me every time we see each other. (Thanks Chuck. Now you know why I never invite you to afternoon tea anymore.)
So this afternoon, before I brought the boys home to their mom for mother’s day, the can caught my eye and opened it.
What? Colors? I hate these words. Who the hell thought of them?
So I went about my day with the word tucked back in the dark recesses of my mind. As I walked through Home Depot – I promised my mom I’d fix some stuff around the house today – I pretended I was bouncing around ideas, but it really more like tossing a rubber ball against a wall in an empty room. As the hollow echo of the ball bouncing from floor to ceiling ran through my skull, I passed the paint aisle and all it’s samples laid out, and I walked right past them.
Colors… what a sucky word.
it wasn’t until after the chores, after diner, after I had pretty much given up for the day that I saw the flowers sitting on my dining room table. I really am an idiot sometimes.
I grabbed them, and found my colors. Colors more beautiful than any can from Home Depot could ever make.
And yes Chuck, I’ll try to get another word real soon…