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Photography Philosophy

It’s been my observation that photographers are an extremely varied bunch and that it’s difficult for any potential customer to know exactly what they’re getting when they look at partnering up with an artist.  Most people who go in search of photography services seem to think of the standard school pictures photographer who tells you to tilt your head in such and such a way and smile just -so- and only takes a picture once you’re positioned just how they want you.  I am not that sort of photographer.  In fact I might be more properly called a hunter than a photographer if that’s your standard of service.

Stoop Kids at Square Cat Records

As example I give you the shot to the right.  This photo of Stoop Kids in their Square Cat Vinyl show last November represents my hunter philosophy when it comes to shooting.  The entire show and their interaction with each other is summed up very neatly in this one photograph.  They are one of the most dynamic bands I’ve seen on stage and I was giddy to capture their souls.  Lead singer and bass player practically nose to nose while the saxophonist peaks out under the mic stand.

Philosophically, I truly believe that posed photography represents more of the photographer than of the subject.  When I shoot I want to capture the reality of what’s going on in a spontaneous and creative way.  Not cast my own thoughts and opinions on what should be onto the situation.  Your photos should be about you and who you are, not some aesthetic that some photographer prearranges for you.

Rev Peyton's Big Damn Band-Album Release Show at the HiFi 3-17-2Next we have Breezy Peyton of Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band from the HiFi in March of this year.  For this show we were packed in like sardines and couldn’t move without getting in the way of a lot of other people so we dutifully stood our ground just to the left of center stage for the whole show.  When I’m shooting, my absolute #1 priority is to make sure I’m not disturbing anyone else at the show or distracting from the entertainment.  If you’re lucky enough to get into a show then you’re a guest and you should act like one.  I refuse to use flash or supplemental lighting of any kind because frankly, flashes are annoying as hell.  If I can’t get a shot without getting in someone’s way then I don’t get the shot.  Simple as that.

I’m also not a fan of fancy post-processing.  There are some amazing tools out there that will let you make your photos look like just about anything.  But that is, frankly, a fraud.  The world is more than nice enough just as it is without a lot of augmentation.  Get the shot that’s there and if the light’s blue then bloody well make the picture blue.  It’s the photographer’s job to capture the moment, not create it out of whole cloth.

2016 Indiana State Fair Parkour DemoThe last point I’ll make is about capturing pivotal moments.  As example I give you this shot from last year’s Parkour demonstrations at the State Fair.  I love the expression of the guy who’s not literally walking up a wall.  This whole show was filled with amazing moments and you almost couldn’t click your shutter fast enough.  For me, this is the essence of “hunter photography”. Grabbing that perfect moment out of the air at exactly the right time and bottling it up for all to see is, in my mind, the whole point.

So that hopefully gives you a bit of a sense of my own personal philosophy on photography.  If you’d like to see more of my work please visit my site at RobSlaven.com or on Facebook (IndyLivePhotography | Rob Slaven Photography).

Contact me for photo ops in the Indianapolis and surrounding areas at IndyLivePhoto@gmail.com or in the comments section.

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Trip Day 8 – Mt. St. Helens, Astoria

After amusing ourselves in downtown Portland, we then make our way north to the mountain that so grabbed the nation’s attention in 1980 when it erupted and caused the biggest landslides of the year (if you don’t count Reagan v. Carter a few months later).

As usual we just meandered north. There was some amount of doubt about where we should go and upon asking the local ranger he sent us hours out of the way so we quietly nodded our assent to his wise plan and instead just continued on our “chosen” path. Unsurprisingly, we managed to see the mountain far in advance of any solid plan to get up close and personal with it.

From 7-6-2012 Day 8 – Mt St Helens – Astoria

The area of the country in general is not to be missed. If mountains don’t appeal then the water surely will.

From 7-6-2012 Day 8 – Mt St Helens – Astoria

As the birds will no doubt attest.

From 7-6-2012 Day 8 – Mt St Helens – Astoria

Driving up the mountain can be insidiously dangerous. I’m not talking about the winding narrow roads really but the views, appearing suddenly unbidden from nowhere, are enough to drive one distractedly off the edge of a cliff. Luckily, the respective departments of public works in the Northwest are aware of this and tend to provide fairly regular turn-offs for those seeking eye-candy. It does strike a stake through my heart though to see a strip of trees cleared for power lines.

From 7-6-2012 Day 8 – Mt St Helens – Astoria

My favorite view of the trip really, is (I think) from somewhere along 503. The turnoff is not noted as scenic; it’s just a place you pull off to the side of the road to put chains on your tires in winter. Just a hum-drum run of the mill spot on the mountains. What makes me smile here are the colors and the layering: water, stone and life co-existing so solidly built upon each other.

From 7-6-2012 Day 8 – Mt St Helens – Astoria

Along the way we wandered into an area in which ancient lava had buried a doomed forest tens of thousands of years ago. The tree trunks left these holes and caverns through the hardening rock. Indeed the lava won in the long run but at least the trees left their mark on history.

From 7-6-2012 Day 8 – Mt St Helens – Astoria

Anyone who has read this blog for any length of time knows that I’m a big believer in travel serendipity. They also know that I’m a big fan of bugs so when this unusual critter was spotted on Eric’s tie-die shirt it was giddy, happy joy.

From 7-6-2012 Day 8 – Mt St Helens – Astoria

After what seemed like hours, our first view of the mountain itself.

From 7-6-2012 Day 8 – Mt St Helens – Astoria

The periodic run-ins with hot lava combine with the local waterways to create some pretty interesting geography.

From 7-6-2012 Day 8 – Mt St Helens – Astoria

Landscape so thrilling (and filled with signs protesting: “Extreme danger! Do not leave trails!”) that even the young among us dance a merry jig on along the way.

From 7-6-2012 Day 8 – Mt St Helens – Astoria

Having finished our romance with the mountain, we leave her behind.

From 7-6-2012 Day 8 – Mt St Helens – Astoria

And make our way to the sea once again to watch the sun set on Day 8 in Astoria.

From 7-6-2012 Day 8 – Mt St Helens – Astoria
From 7-6-2012 Day 8 – Mt St Helens – Astoria
From 7-6-2012 Day 8 – Mt St Helens – Astoria

Day 9 will find us awake bright and early in Astoria before we wander south to Cannon Beach.

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Since Last Writing…

I realize rather suddenly that it’s been a month since I last posted. It should be noted that the Facebook page for this little endeavor gets rather regular attention but the blog… not so much. Perhaps it’s the necessity of actually putting down words that causes the neglect. Whatever the case, tonight you find me verbose and therefore tonight… you find me at all.

At last posting there was actually a glimmer of a possibility of photographing real people. In retrospect, this was a boon of enormous importance but sadly, like most good things, it came swiftly to an end due to circumstances quite outside my control. Hopefully the time will come when I will again have actual willing humans towards which to point my interest. Until such time as new victims appear, we always have the standard fare.

I have found over the past month that I’m increasingly fascinated by the medium of time-lapse. What would make a fairly dull picture can, with the aid of large amounts of patience, make a reasonably interesting video.

Building on the lessons learned in the time-lapse I did for our company meeting… Oh, did I mention? My video for my company actually won a grant competition for Kids Against Hunger and netted the organization a $10,000 donation. You can look at the news release on their website here. Despite being a surprisingly anonymous contributor to this effort, I’m still giddy beyond all reason about it. Anyway, moving on… I spent several hours in downtown Indy working on this same sort of “limited attention span” effect. Time-lapse is great and all but after 10-20 seconds, the average person is ready for a new point of view. So I’ve taken to composing short vignettes and moving the viewer rapidly between them. Add some up-beat music and you’ve got a reasonable result, I think.

And, it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t include at least one celestial event.

For the race fans out there, we took ourselves to Carb Day at the Indy 500. At almost 7 minutes this is by far the longest video I’ve ever bothered to cobble together. I’d say it sums up the event pretty well though. The last half of the video is the pit-stop competition. Given that the actual pit-stops take all of 12 seconds to finish it felt a bit ironic to be compressing time but it does give one a sense for just how long it takes to set up for those 12 seconds.

Penultimately, my youngest expressed her desire to “do a movie” of her own. Find below her chosen content as well as the music she chose, by specific request by name, “I want the popcorn song”.  Who says the hits of yesteryear are lost on the young?

And finally, you may have noticed that a few nights ago we had a celestial event that only occurs once in a couple lifetimes as the planet Venus passed across the disc of the sun. Of course we were all at the top of a parking garage to see it and time-lapse it. To actually see the tiny dot that is Venus, you’ll have to go with the HD version of this one.

And so we close. Hopefully sometime soon I’ll summarize some of the still shots that transpired over the past week. Perhaps even better I’ll bother to post on a regular basis.

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Filed under Indianapolis, Lafayette, nature Photography, night photography