Who is Pigford? ( So now you know Pigford, my buddy and terrorizer of dogs and house guests.)

Pigford Fine Art project.

Pigford Fine Art project.

Who is “Pigford” you may ask? Pigford came to me years ago as a Christmas gift from my (at that time) girlfriend’s daughter. I’m guessing it was about 10+ years ago he appeared under the Christmas tree and has been in my home ever since. Now you must know I own a BBQ catering business and the mainstay of the business is “on-site pig roasting” and because of this many people for whatever reason feel they have to give me “pig” gifts and it is actually quite annoying. Do electricians get a piece of wire or a light switch? Do plumbers get a piece of pipe or a pipe wrench as a gift? Well I certainly hope not. With that said; I fell in love with this creepy little guy and I wouldn’t part with him for nothing. I named him Pigford and I just think he is so damn cool because the look he has epitomizes how I feel about my BBQ business. 19 years is a long haul in a business that I never intended to be in. I was laid off from a job and I used what resources were available to me to save myself from poverty and unemployment and cooking was something I knew how to do. Now today, sure I love BBQ, I love my BBQ the best; I have honed my craft over the years to be the best I can make it. Now as I move on to more creative things in life my wife and I still have the catering business and she loves it.

So to it was time for Pigford to step up. He has spent the last three years in my living room and there were times the poor guy was put into a storage unit while I was transiting from place to place. He never says much and I hope he doesn’t because that would be scary. However I wanted to use Pigford for a Fine Art project and this time I was successful. I say this time because in the past I have photographed him and it just didn’t work, it seemed dead and flat. However this time I put him in his element, a kitchen. I realized right away that this is what Pigford needed, he is a chef and he needed to look like a chef.

So I feel the final image although not 100% complete yet, it will be a great image to blog about and discuss the techniques I used for making the final image.

So now you know Pigford, my buddy and terrorizer of dogs and house guests.

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Conjuring Personal Projects (Simply put it was an epic all day shoot in a studio with two models…)

Kendall and I confer on posing.

Kendall and I confer on posing.

I am currently conjuring ideas for my personal photography projects for the next six months. This is how my process works, I keep notes and ideas, some are written and others just a mental note. However there is one project that I hope to repeat and that is going back to the Iron Factory Studio in Philadelphia. Last September I planned out a personal photography project that was very extensive (for me) and it was very rewarding because it yielded several good images and not to mention all the good & bad things I learned from the project as a whole.

Simply put it was an epic all day shoot in a studio with two models and one hair & makeup artist. The models were to be shot on a white sweep and the backgrounds to come later in November & December. My goal was to make composite images and to make them somewhat special the backgrounds would come from Thailand and Laos. I would be in Thailand for one month and I thought this would really be an opportunity to create something different… and it was. Why the Iron Factory? Well it for me is the atmosphere of the room and the building. There really is something to be said for finding a creative atmosphere to work in and for me the Iron Factory is awesome.

How it all happens.

How it all happens.

So this year I want to do something similar. I want to work with two, possibly three models for an epic all day shoot. I will use different lighting techniques as I did last year, ranging from hard edgy lights to the ever so soft twin 7 foot softboxes and beauty dish. I would like to use a male model this year in addition to the females and I would like to use both dark and light skins.

Teamwork.

Teamwork.

Now the big question is; where do the backgrounds come from? Sounds like I need to plan a trip and that then leads to many things to ponder such as budget, when I can travel and where do I travel. Budget dictates a lot of things as does’ time, but this is good because it give my mind something to do (lol).

So I leave with images from that magical day that Kendall, Cynthia, Aryn and I had so much fun.

The Iron Factory Collection (…for some images I used an Asian broom for a background)

Model Kendall Strample

Model Kendall Strampel

So nice to see a project come to completion and on schedule, this is a great feeling. The overview of the project is to take the images of the two models that were shot at the very end of last summer and make final composites using images as background that would be captured while I was traveling in Thailand in November & December. My goal was to create about ten final images that would be named the “Iron Factory Collection.” Named after the studio in Philadelphia where the images of the models were captured. Completion was set for late January.
Capturing the backgrounds was difficult to a certain degree and I did not want all the composites to be comprised of “a model with a scene behind her.” Although scenes with building or landscapes are nice, I also like to use objects and make them abnormally large. For some images I used an Asian broom for a background and for another I used a large leaf from a plant and I still have a few other objects that I have not edited yet.
The goal of making a collection is really secondary to the other objectives of this project. I wanted to prove to myself that I could lay out a photography project that focused on compositing and follow it through to completion. Along the way there would be collateral benefits, meeting new people, experimenting with new techniques and most of all gaining more experience with my compositing skills.
I’m very much drawn to the art of compositing. I always knew photography would be a mere stepping stone to something of a higher level. The joy for me is found in the ability to create something and have the freedom to take it higher and away from the standard portrait of a person. The freedom is good; however there is the challenge, the challenge of keeping it within the realm of not making the scene something of pure unbelievable fantasy. I do like to create pieces comprised of crazy abstract scenes that one may call “art.” But compositing is the focus of my direction at this time.
So at this time I still have a few Iron Factory Pieces to finish and I’m already in the planning of the next compositing project. No rest for the weary? Hardly… When you’re doing something that excites you and challenges you it almost seems effortless.

 

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The Iron Factory Photo Shoot (it was not like god said unto me “thou hast to set forth and build an ark.” )

The Iron Factory Studio

The Iron Factory Studio

So as a follow up or continuation to my last blog post where I describe how I had a vision of a certain style of image that I wanted to create and how at the time I had this idea, I could barely work a DSLR camera nor did I know anything about Adobe Photoshop. So now after several years of climbing not one, but several mountains and obstacles of learning, I have made it to the starting line for this vision. Now when I say a vision I do not mean it was an apparition and no, it was not like god said unto me “thou hast to set forth and build an ark.” It was more of an idea and as I mentioned in the last post I knew it was nothing new but I just had no knowledge of how to do it. And of course now having learned the technique I was looking for and seeing that Photographer Joel Grimes has kind of pioneered the look, I will now set off on my own project to use Mr. Grimes’ technique and fuse it to my own style.

The starting line for this is the Iron Factory Studio in old city Philadelphia. Three models (Reese Maddox, Kendall Strampel & Cynthia Ann) with a few different looks shooting on a white sweep background. The images will become elements to be used to make composites in Adobe Photoshop at a later time. The backgrounds will come from various places and some of those places will include Southeast Asia, Thailand & Laos. I will travel there for one month to visit family and friends, some vacationing a bit and looking for special places or scenes to photograph for backgrounds. I should also add that the backgrounds will be shot in HDR, again for that “somewhere between a photo and an illustration” effect. The models however can not be shot in HDR as it looks horrible on people or anything alive. So the models have to have a custom effect that is too long and in-depth to describe here. This is where the creativity comes into play and it all takes place in Photoshop.

I want this project to be a success… of course that goes without saying. But I do know that many times things do not happen easy, nor do they happen on the first try… “The best laid plans of mice & men…” One thing I do know is all involved will still have a fun time at the studio that day, for that is my number one rule at a photo shoot “to have fun.” If it is not fun then something is really wrong and we stop. I will post more about this project as it progresses.

The Iron Factory Studio

The Iron Factory Studio