Saturday, May 29, 2010
As a photographer (and a human), It's always a bit of a shock and reality check when someone you've shot has died. I've been taking pictures for so long that this has happened a bunch of times. It always seems a bit surreal to think that they are gone, and that I was part of the record of who they are/were. Today, I read that gary coleman had died after falling and hitting his head, at the age of 42. It got me to thinking about him and reflecting on my shoot with him... My experience shooting gary was about 5 years ago when he was running for governor of california, and his candidacy was the big exclamation point at the end of the joke that was the california gubenatorial race that year (the other arnold, terminator guy, eventually won)..... i met gary for the shoot at a model train and hobby store over on the west side of LA, his choice, as he was a regular and felt safe there. He was a huge model train guy, it was a serious hobby and he even had a conductors outfit that he would wear when he was "driving" his trains. I think the reason he wanted to meet at the train shop is because it was the one place he could be himself and all the workers and regulars called him gary and only wanted to talk trains, not his acting career. I felt his sadness and bitterness the whole time is was with him. He says he hated being famous and recognized in public, but what i think he really hated was the way hollywood treated him as a child star, tossing him aside when he got older and not cute, and he wasnt ready to let go and move on. He tried to keep acting, but it just wasnt happening. And to top it all off his money was mismanaged and taken by his parents (whom he successfully sued but the damage was done), so he was basically broke. This shot that I've attached is my favorite of him that i took that day. It's just raw and honest, he's not the cute little boy from tv, but a man trying to find his way....i went back and looked at some youtube compilations of him on different strokes...it brought me back to 1980 and i felt a little bit nostalgic for the simpler times...as i watched i realized he really was a comedic genius and full of life and energy. So bright and charismatic and totally the star of the show......the person that i photographed that day seemed a shell of the little boy that he was. somewhere along the way fame and life had seemed to get the better of him. Definitely a cautionary tale..
Posted by nathaniel at 10:52 AM
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Its been awhile since I last posted, being the father to a 2 1/2 year old will do that....just got this in the mail (email) today from amy b over at field and stream, the new june cover, which I shot back in the late fall on a gorgeous stream somewhere in NJ. The story was about a trend of fishing at night for big trout, as trout are pretty nocturnal and are pretty aggressive feeders at night. You can't really shoot at night though if you want to see any detail in the background, so we shot around dusk. Its an old hollywood trick to make it look like night. You shoot in the late day, and underexpose to make it dark and look like night. Next time you see a night shot in an old hollywood western from the 50's or 60's, you'll notice a perfect shadow under the horse or cowboy. This is because they shot in the daytime, but underexposed the film to make it dark. We kinda did the same thing for this cover, shot when there was still plenty of light, but I lit the fisherman, and let the background go dark as it was underexposed. And for all of you super technical photo nerds out there, to make the background so blue (to mimic moonlight), i set the camera white balance to tungsten, which adds alot of blue, and put an amber filter on the profoto lights that were lighting the fisherman so he would look "normal" and not blue. It turned out great, the fish was the star (as always), and she was rewarded with freedom when we were done playing paparazzi with her......I've been fly fishing for a long time now, and just now I decided to look on my hard drive for any snapshots I might have of personal trout fishing trips. I had a few, and I put them here also. They were taken a couple of years ago, on the tongue river in wyoming in the bighorn mountains. My parents have a summer place there, and I try to get there whenever I can in the late summer when the fish are really feeding for the coming winter. It's about the best place I've ever been, no crowds, no cell service, one shared phone line for everyone, one bad restaurant, one good bar, and good fishing. The bighorns get passed up by 95% of people that are heading to jackson hole and the tetons. Just fly right by it, and that suits us fine. You can have the tetons and all the fancy-ness that they bring. The bighorns are still how the west was 50 years ago... On this particular trip that these snaps were taken, it was early september, and being the mountains, the weather is always a coin toss. The earliest blizzard ever just happened to roar through the mountains the day after we got there, but i was not deterred. I've had plenty of amazing fishing trips here, caught lots of fish, more than i deserve really. But this trip was different. I was itching so bad to get out and fish, in the middle of the 2 day blizzard, i said "dad, take me down to the tongue, i'm going to fish". He thought i was nuts, but we loaded up and he drove me down to an easy access point. He sat there laughing as i put my waders on in the storm and tied on a fly. I knew it was pretty futile to be sure, but when you fish, catching a fish is only part of it, i just wanted to get back on the tongue and listen to the water, it had been a long time. It felt good walking away from dads truck, knowing there was no chance i would see another fisherman, or even a moose as even they had better sense. I fished for about an hour, hands frozen by the time I got back, ice forming on the guides of the rod, and even the fish had better sense as the bite had died. I fished after the storm a day later too under blue skies, but 3 feet of snow to deal with, and the fish still hadnt turned back on yet, didnt catch one all day on a stretch I would usually catch 10 fish in an afternoon. We had one more day, and i was hurting bad because of the bad luck with this storm. Not so much not catching fish, but just dealing with all the snow, hard to hike and walk in and see holes along the bank. Tough 2 days of fishing. On the last day, mom and dad said "lets go lower down the mountain where there wont be any snow and take one of our favorite hikes." So we did that, i brought a 4 weight pack rod just in case but didnt think i would use it. At the very end of the day on our way out of the woods, i decided just for fun to walk down to the stream that I heard along the hike and give it a try, as I hadnt caught a fish yet and was a bit depressed about my luck on this trip, I just really needed to feel the rod tip bend..... I caught a fish on almost every cast, though they were all very small brookies, it really didnt matter, I had finally felt the tug. It felt so good to catch those fish, one of the best fishing experiences I had ever had. I've caught 300 pound marlin, big stripers, mahi, wahoo, bass, redfish, snook, roosterfish, yellowfin tuna, the list goes on and on. But I realized more on that trip than ever, it really isnt the size of the fish that matters or even catching fish, it's the persistence in the pursuit, it's being ok with the outcome, no matter if you catch fish or not, and appreciating it when you do. Remember that next time youre having a bad day, it may feel like it will never get better, but it will if you just let it.
Posted by nathaniel at 8:42 PM