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Moments, captured in a photograph. Sometimes funny, sometimes silly, sometimes interesting, sometimes an event I covered that day or sometimes just something that caught my eye. You will also catch me rambling on life as a freelance photographer and maybe some shooting tips thrown in. Yes I do get paid to take pictures! -Bryan Mitchell
Ok so it’s been over a week since I’ve posted. Last week was crazy and I just never seemed to make time to fit in blog posting. I didn’t shoot too much but when I did I was off and running. Here is an example with the assignment to get the chef photo.
It was a Tuesday and I was working on a wedding book. I got a call from the News somewhere between noon and 1:00. Can I go shoot a chef at a restaurant cooking on a grill showing a bunch of flames? Ah yes, I think, let me call you back in 10 minutes. Ok, so my kids are in school. One has to be picked up at 3:30 and one at 4:30 which I normally do since my wife doesn’t get home from work until 5:30. But on this day she was at the doctor because she was real sick and felt like death. So I call her first to see how it was going, no answer. So I don’t know if she can pick up my daughter at 3:30. Plus if she is feeling really bad I don’t want her to have to watch the kids. Taking care of young kids when you are sick is no fun.
Ok, I call my mother in law. She said she could come up but had some errands to run as well. Ok then I thought of another idea, so I will call her back. Our neighbor also picks her son up at 3:30 at the same school as my daughter. So I call to ask if she can get my daughter, she can. Ok one down.
So I will get my son at 4:30-4:45. Doesn’t give me much time to shoot but I have no other option right now. I called my mother-in-law back and told her she didn’t need to come up, it’s an hour drive for her.
Now, call the News back, yes I can shoot. When do you need the photo? They need it by 6:00-7:00 PM. OK! So its now around 1:00 I think. I need to leave by 2:45 or so to get to the assignment.
I get my gear packed up and try to finish up some of the wedding book. Oh crap, what about dinner for the kids. I don’t want my wife to cook or the neighbors to have to feed them. I’ll stop for pizza.
Now my wife walks in the door and it turns out she has pneumonia. Ugh!
I need to go get her prescription filled and a couple other things. So I’m off to the Target Pharmacy. I’m there about 1:50 and the pharmacy is closed until 2:00 for lunch! So I go get the other things and then wait. They say it will take 15-20 minutes. So I wait more. Then they tell me they are to busy to ring up my other things. Ok, I’ll pay for the script here, and then go to the front to pay for the rest. I then run the medicine home for my wife who is in bed and feeling terrible. I’m back out the door a little before 3:00.
I get to the restaurant, find a parking spot, grab my gear and get in about 3:30. So I have about a ½ hour to figure out where to shoot, set up lights, shoot some test shots, shoot, tear down and get out of there to get my son. I know I want to shoot several shots because you never know exactly what the fire will do. I also shoot extra in case the strobes don’t fire every time, which they didn’t.
So I shoot, get packed up and get back to the car at around 4:05. Ok, the freeway will be all backed up so I need to go another route.
After what seemed to take forever I get my son around 4:40. We stop and pick up pizza, drive home and walk over to the neighbors where my daughter is so everyone can eat. It’s about 5:10 at they have to leave by 5:50 for a class. So we eat and head home. I tell the kids they need to be real quiet because mom is sleeping but they can watch the rest of a movie they started the night before.
So I upload photos to the computer and start editing. The one shown here was the frame I liked best but there were a few others that worked ok yet nothing I really liked a lot so I would send them several to choose from.
But of course now my computer is running real slow and I have to reboot. It’s around 6:30; I need to get these photos to them. The kids are jumping and yelling and I have to keep stopping to go tell them to please be quiet so they didn’t wake up my wife. My blood pressure is up. So I get several images to the paper by around 6:45 and I now have to get my kids ready for bed, read to them and maybe get some dinner myself.
I was stressed out!
So you see taking the photo is the easy part of being a freelance photographer. It’s not this crazy everyday but I do get last minute calls and the craziness happens more then you would think.
The Detroit News writer Charlie LeDuff got a phone call about a man frozen to death in a block of ice in an abandoned building in
This is how it relates to me.
I was at McDonalds for dinner with my son Max watching him in the play area while I flipped through the most recent issue of News photographer Magazine. I got a call from the photo desk at the News asking, "What are you doing right now?" So I told them and asked what was up. They said they tracked down a family member of that man that died in the ice and could I go get a photo of a photo he had and a portrait of the brother. BTW the man that died, his name is Johnnie. So I told them I could possibly make it to his house by 7:00 but probably more like 7:30. So I dropped my son off at home just as my wife got home with my daughter. Mapped out where I was going. Mapped out the closest place to transmit like Starbucks, McDonalds or anywhere with Wi-Fi and started to drive.
On the way there I was wondering how I would shoot this sensitive situation. Available light, strobes (off camera of course), take in a light stand and umbrella, just use a small reflector, what? I didn't want to be a pain in the ass depending on the mood of Johnnie's brother Homer Redding. So I wanted to keep things simple. I wanted a nice looking portrait but this wasn't about how cool of a photo I could shoot but how fast I could get a nicely lit portrait and be on my way.
I had to call when I got to his street because I couldn't find his house and it turns out the wrong address was written on my assignment sheet. I was worried he was going to say he changed his mind about being photographed which would be understandable.
Mr. Redding welcomed me in and he had been painting so his furniture was all in the middle of the rooms and not in their normal places. So simple would definitely be best. I did take in a light stand and umbrella, set it up while he looked for a couple of photographs of Johnnie for me to shoot. I shot a few simple images of some old photographs and then ask Mr.'
Then I asked him to set the photo down so I could get a portrait of him, I told him he could look into the camera if he wanted but didn't have to so he would feel more comfortable.
I shot a few wide shots with one camera body and lens and then had another camera body with a long lens for a couple other shots.
I did have a problem with the lights though, that batteries were weak. But instead of taking up more of his time to change them I just worked through it and shot slow. Sometimes they didn't fire but he was very gracious and put up with me for a few extra minutes.
I joked with him and his nephew about goofy old photographs as I quickly packed up my things. I the told him thank you for allowing me and the paper in. I also told him that I get to meet many people in my job and I was sorry for his loss and we had to meet under these circumstances. I shook his hand and said maybe we would meet again someday under happier conditions.
One more thing. As I was driving my son home he heard me talking on the phone to my wife about what I was shooting. When I hung up he asked my, "dad, why did the man freeze?" I have talked to him in the past about how some people don't have much money, many things and some are homeless. So I reminded him this is why we should always be grateful for what we have and that we have people who love us.
"Didn't anyone love him?" he asked.
If you went to the link above and read the story you might think no one did. I had a tear in my eye and told my 4 year old, "I'm positive some people loved him and I'm going to take their picture so everyone else knows there were people who loved him but sometimes some people just have some bad luck." Thanks Mr. Redding, Thanks Max.