Best of 2012, Photography, Year End Recaps

Best of 2012: Special Photography Projects

Although my main specialty is live music photography, this year I managed to stretch my legs a bit with fun, creative projects for a few different clients. I’ve done more and more event photography work this year, in particular, along with some interesting projects for City Pages and a few other odds and ends. Out of a few dozen of these special projects, here were five of my favorites from 2012.

#5 – Rock Photo/Festival GIFs for City Pages

This year I jumped head first into the wild world of GIFs. City Pages music editor Reed Fischer brought the idea up to me during this year’s Rock the Garden, asking me to do some GIF work to liven things up a bit. I was concerned about time constraints (my previous experiences with GIFs proved prohibitively time consuming, especially for their budget) and the general spazzy nature of GIFs, which often should come with their own seizure warnings. What City Pages needed, specifically, were batches of rapid-fire (next-day, usually) GIFs of live action at shows and festivals I was already covering with still photography. Thanks to a high frame rate on my DSLR, batch processing in Lightroom and some technical mojo on the back end, I was able to slap together a dozen or more for them to choose from, usually overnight. I ended up doing GIFs for five hot, sweaty outdoor festivals: Rock the Garden, River’s Edge, Warped Tour, Lollapalooza, and Knotfest. Despite my initial misgivings, these GIF posts became some of the most popular on the Gimme Noise blog and proved to be a fun, light-hearted way to shake up the daily grind of editing.

#4 – Mark Mallman Marathon 4 Preview Photos/Article

After spending nearly 52 hours live photo blogging Mark Mallman’s more-than-epic Marathon 3 back in 2010, I was incredibly curious about what he and his conspirators had up their sleeves for Marathon 4. So when Reed asked me to drop by Stuart DeVaan’s Hotbed Studios for some photos and a chat with the M4 crew a few weeks before M4 for a preview article, I jumped at the opportunity. Mark and I ruminated on everything from the lofty overarching goals of Marathon to the nitty-gritty of logistics and MIDI interfaces while the Road Roguers did some alpha testing of cameras, cellular broadband connections, electronic instrumentation and experimental brain-machine interfaces. Even though I was preoccupied with a rapidly-approaching deadline for another writing project (an interview with electronic music legend Amon Tobin) I was able to crank out an article I was proud of, complete with photos, in a very short amount of time and Mallman’s cross-country, cyborg Marathon 4 turned out to be quite a success!

#3 – Bushmills Whisky / Bon Iver / Bischoff Guitars “1608” Whisky Barrel Guitar Launch Event Photography

Although I’ve been doing more and more event photography this year, it wasn’t until this Bushmills-sponsored event in Eau Claire that I feel that really came into my own with the genre. As most of these things go, a friend referred me to someone that needed an event photographer (a referral I’m very thankful for). Unlike most of these things, the event wasn’t your typical “get kids out to drink” kind of thing. Instead this one was quite different – it turned out to be more of a family and friends affair, with Justin’s and Gordy’s friends and family milling about with a few music and liquor industry types on the fringes. As it turns out, many of the folks there were already friends or friendly acquaintances of mine and the evening turned into one of my favorites of the year. The highlight was sitting around the fire pit out back while the party was winding down, chatting with friends new and old under the Eau Claire stars. Photographically, this event was a fun challenge, since I didn’t want to run around blinding people with flash. I brought along a range of fast primes (35, 50, 85) and cranked up the ISO, letting the candlelight show off the ambiance of the event. I even managed to get a little video action in, too. In the end, it was an enjoyable night of work and I’m very proud of the results.

#2 – Owl City Cover for City Pages

Environmental portraiture is something I’ve been practicing for the last few years with friends, so any opportunity I get to do some portrait work for a client I’m pretty excited. This shoot was no exception and the location, an old candy store/restaurant in Owatonna, MN (about an hour and a half south of Minneapolis) named Costas Candies, turned out to be perfect for the subject, a musician (Owl City’s Adam Young) from the aforementioned small town that’s gained international acclaim over the last year or two. It was my first portrait for a City Pages cover and my second cover overall for the Minneapolis weekly, the first being a composite of live shots the previous year). It was a laid back, comfortable photo shoot in a cozy, small town mom and pop shop and Adam was a joy to work with. Art director Mike Kooiman worked some Photoshop magic to drop in a lighter background, making the cover really pop. Some photos also ended up in a few different blog posts as well.

#1 – Minnesota Joe Breakdancing GIFs for City Pages

Another phone call from Reed, another fun project. This time it was a selection of 10 GIFs to go along with a cover story about Minnesota Joe, an incredibly talented young b-boy. His breakdancing skills are some of the best in the Midwest, if not the world, so I wanted to make sure I found a way to do justice to his moves in GIF form. After some testing I found that my strobes could keep up with my DSLR’s 11 frame per second mode at low output, just long enough for a few seconds of rapid-fire photography. With the testing done, I set up a makeshift studio in the garage behind my apartment building and got to work. By the time Joe came by to do the shoot things were tweaked and ready to go and after 17 takes (he’s a trooper!), we got what we needed. The results turned out to be some of my favorite work all year long, partially because of the effort that went into making things happen.

So, that’s it for the projects! Stay tuned for more favorites from the year, next time with 100% live music photography. :)

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