Thursday, February 21, 2013

SLC Lifestyle Photography

The more I shoot it, the more I love shooting it.  Lifestyle photography is fun to shoot and there is a lot of opportunity to bring your own style to the table in this stuff.  A few months back I had the opportunity to do a quick (like 1 hour quick) shoot of the new lifestyle bags from Gregory.  We headed to downtown SLC to get them in their element.

SLC has some great areas if you know where to go.  Like The Rose Establishment at 235 S. 400 W.

I enjoy the challenge of mixing outdoor and indoor light.

And if I don't climb at least one tree in a photo shoot it just doesn't feel like I accomplished anything.

Lifestyle photography brings its own set of challenges and opportunities.  Having really honed my photography in the mountains and outdoors, I find these opportunities exciting.  I like to think I bring something new to it.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

The Value of a Solid Athlete

There is something to be said about photographic technique, mechanics, and style. But when shooting action sports none of that is going to do you any good if your athlete is sub par. Over the years I have had the opportunity to shoot with great athletes and terrible ones. I decided to put together three key things I look for when choosing who to go out and ski/climb/run/whatever with when shooting using a close friend of mine, Jer Valentiner, as an example.

Black and White by Dustin Butcher (dbutcher) on
While he was living in Boulder, CO we went for a hike around Berthoud Pass to get this shot.
1. A Good Athlete
First of all, your athlete/model must know what they are doing. This should seem obvious, but I wanted to put it out there anyway. I have some great photos of crappy skiers that will never be used anywhere because of the awkward position of their arms or something silly like that. Now don't get me wrong here - I am not saying you should only shoot professionals. Instead, go out with some friends that can really get it done. Jer and I got into backcountry skiing and climbing together. We communicate very well with one another. In fact, I would say that I work better in the backcountry with Jer than with anyone else.  He is not a professional athlete, but he sure can ski. He has a beautiful telemark turn that photographs really well. Some of the earliest pictures I had published were taken of him just while we were out skiing before class (or sometimes during class). Your athlete doesn't need to be a pro, but they do need to be good. You need to know that when he/she gets into position in that perfectly composed shot you have worked for that they are going to look like they know what they are doing and look good doing it.

Contrast by Dustin Butcher (dbutcher) on
Who wouldn't be psyched to have their picture taken on a day like this?
2. Psyched to Have Their Picture Taken
Your athlete needs to be psyched to have their picture taken. I have some ski partners that are amazing skiers or mountaineers that I don't even bother shooting because they are not patient enough to wait for the shot. They just want to ski. That's fine, but they aren't going to be high on my list next time I want to go shoot a ski trip or mountaineering objective. On the other hand, Jer loves to have his picture taken. He is amped to be out there in front of the camera. He always calls me before we head out to ask what he should wear, what skis to use, etc. He understands that these things are important to a solid photograph and is willing to do what it takes to get it. Simple things like that mean he is the first one I call when it is time to get out and do something rad.

Gold by Dustin Butcher (dbutcher) on
Jer. In silhouette form. Working hard.
3. Willing to Work to "Get the Shot"
A great photo is hard work. Sometimes we get lucky and just happen to shoot when things align perfectly. But you can't build a career on luck. Instead, you need to work to create that luck. Sometimes it means waking up at ungodly hours to get to the right spot at the right time. Sometimes it means hiking even further to get in position once you have scoped the shot. Whatever it is, your athlete needs to be into it. This has never been a problem with Jer. The psyche to have his photograph taken extends to waking up earlier, walking further, making that right-handed slash turn in exactly the right place, skiing a different line, cutting that line short, whatever. This is such an important aspect of having a good photo athlete. Without it you are going to have great compositions with average movement through them. 

Untitled by Dustin Butcher (dbutcher) on
Aside from his stoic appearance in this photo, he is actually quite the pleasant person to be around.
I have worked with many great skiers, climbers, runners, hikers, and more over the years, but I chose Jer to highlight here because I think he is someone that really hits all of these points so well without being a paid professional. He is a great skier that loves to be in front of the camera and is amped about working hard to get the shot. I think he loves to be published, but more than that I think he is just a super supportive friend that is happy to get the occasional printed photo in the mail or mention on the blog (here you go, Jer).

Consider these three points when you plan your next trip, shoot, expedition, whatever. You will be glad you did.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Valley Nilbog

I am about to do you a huge favor and suggest a movie that will change your life forever: Troll 2.  Seriously.  If you already googled it before getting this far in the post, you may have read some people claim that it is "the worst movie ever made," "horrendous," or "simply terrible."  Well, to those people I say this - I agree.  But that is exactly what makes this movie remarkable.

You may be asking why I would write a post about a terrible movie on this photo blog.  If you are asking this question you apparently don't know me very well.  But there is a reason for it this time.  The name of the city in the movie (shot in Morgan, UT) is Nilbog.  For those among you who are particularly astute, you may have noticed that Nilbog is actually Goblin spelled backwards.  Nice work.  

I recently returned from a trip down the Goblin Valley State Park where I took some pictures.  So, please enjoy some photos from The Valley Nilbog.

Beautiful morning after camping at the Goblin Valley campground.  I like super low horizon landscapes.  Why is that?

The goblins.  They don't look like vegetarian murderers to me.

This one is actually outside of the state park in Little Wildhorse Canyon.  I would definitely suggest this hike... but maybe not at the end of July.  It was super hot.

The last night I was there I was blessed with this beautiful sunset.  Thank you Nilbog for showing me that I "can't piss on hospitality." Seriously, you need to see this movie.  It's on Netflix Watch Instantly.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Trail Running in SLC

I had the chance a couple months back to go up into the foothills above Salt Lake City and shoot the new Gregory trail running gear.  

We had been rained out the morning before when we tried to shoot, and I was worried we had missed our weather window.  I woke up early the morning of the shoot to check the weather only to see it was stacking up to be a great morning for photography.

Runners: Brittany Kener and Jason Horne

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

VIDEO - Trail Days with Gregory

I had the opportunity recently to go out to a little town located on the Appalachian Trail called Damascus, Virginia.  There they host an annual festival celebrating the trail and the hikers (hippies) who spend 6 months thru-hiking it.  I put together this video to try to capture the characters (hippies) and culture of the trail.  Warning: this video may include hippies.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

The Same Yet Different - Conclusion

I told you at the beginning of this that I didn't know what to expect from doing it.  I really just wanted to see what happened.  Maybe I was going to fall in love with one system over another.  Maybe I would discover some hidden value in something that I hadn't noticed before.  Maybe I would just spend a long night shooting a bunch of pictures with some friends.  

I think the biggest thing that I can take away from this project is a greater love for the art of photography.  Seriously.  I love photography.  I had a blast shooting all these cameras.  I can see so much value in each and every camera that I shot.  If I had the money to go out and buy every one of them, I would.  I could totally see myself using each one of them in its ideal circumstances.  The DSLR definitely has its place.  As does the 8x10, the 4x5, the Hasselblad, the Holga, and the iPhone.  Photography is such an awesome form of art because the tools are so accessible.  Everyone can take pictures.  Not all of them are going to be great.  But anyone can take a picture that is unique in showing the world as they see it.  And that is cool.

Another thing I have learned through all of this is that I love portraiture.  I like to approach it as a story-telling opportunity.  I have always tried to shoot portraits of athletes in the field while I shoot them ski, climb, run, whatever; but with a white backdrop you don't have the benefit of the surroundings helping to tell the story.  You have to tell it through the type of image you shoot and what the face of your subject is saying.  That is a fun challenge to me.  I want to do more of that.

Thank you for following along as I have presented this project.  It was super fun to shoot and to put together for the blog.  I want to especially thank my models: Michael Henriksen, Amalia Smith, Ryan Wells, and Ben Williams.  They were all so great to work with.  Thanks also to my wife and son for helping.  A big thanks to Jimmy Bunting for helping me get a lot of these cameras (his trunk was full of them when he rolled into SLC for the weekend) and the others that loaned cameras along the way.

I like taking pictures.  That's what I have learned.  But didn't I already know that?

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Same Yet Different - Toy Cameras

Those of you who know me well know that I never really grew out of my childhood.  I read comic books, I still watch cartoons, I occasionally eat ice cream for dinner, and I still like to play with toys.  I do have a few children's toys lying around (He-Man figurines, etc.), but the majority of the toys I spend time with are in camera form.  I am not speaking about all cameras here.  Although, every camera I shot for this project could be considered a grown-up toy.  No, I mean actual toy cameras.  Cameras that are a crappy piece of plastic with some sort of lens on it and it takes pictures on the film you have loaded (or, at least, you hope).

Toy Camera Gear:
Lomography Supersampler
Holga 120N
Kodak Disposable
Lomography Fisheye No 2 Ripcurl

Molly with the Supersampler
Stacy and I have a picture on our wall that has four pictures in sequential order on a single shot.  I have always wondered what the camera was that our wedding photographer used.  A few months back I figured it out.  It is the Lomo Supersampler.  I was psyched to finally find it and even more psyched that it was only $50.  That seems like a small price to pay for awesomeness.  This camera takes four pictures using four separate little lenses over the course of about two seconds.  It is a super fun camera to shoot while you are out with friends doing active stuff.  With this particular camera you don't even have a viewfinder.  You just kind of point it toward your subject and hope they are in the frame.  Seriously, order one and shoot a roll.  You will be glad you did.

The team with the Holga
The Holga was my first toy camera.  Stacy bought it for me for my birthday a few years back and I still keep it in my camera bag almost all the time.  It was actually my first Medium Format camera, too, but this camera is different.  This is a piece of plastic loaded with 120 film with the world's worst camera back system.  I don't think I have shot a roll with this camera where the back has not fallen off at some point and overexposed a section of my film.  Case in point, see Molly's picture above.  The back fell off after advancing to the next frame and made half of her picture completely exposed.  Oh, well.  That is one of the things I love about this camera.  The lens sucks.  The body leaks light like it is its job.  You only have two light options - sunny and cloudy.  Your focusing options are one person, three people, group of people, and mountain.  Seriously, what is there not to love about this?  Every time I shoot a roll of film on this I can't wait to get it back from the lab to see what gems are on it.

Ryan with the Kodak disposable
Disposable cameras were a staple in personal photography when I was growing up.  If I were going on a camping trip, vacation, to the pool with friends, whatever, we would have one of these with us.  They were perfect for capturing a moment and telling a story.  They really do kind of suck at taking pictures, though.  The bonus about this particular disposable was that it had been in Ryan's glove box for the past five years and have a few exposures left on it.  The lights we were using weren't quite bright enough for this camera and the flash only fired on the shot of Ryan, but you still get the idea.  Keep some film in a hot car for several years then take some pictures with it.  The shots will have a look straight out of 1970 and you will be able to post to Instagram without adding a filter.

The group shot with the Lomo Fisheye
This camera was new to me.  However, it was fun to play with.  I think this one would be best outside, as well.  Probably in the water, having your subjects get super close to the lens.  Yeah, that would be the right place for this camera.  It is interesting to see the reaction for my models here, though.  Just pulling out a silly, brightly-colored toy camera brought out a different reaction in all of them.  Awesome.

I don't think any of these are the right cameras for studio portrait photography, but the beauty of toy cameras is that none of that matters.  They are just supposed to be fun.  Go shoot whatever you want with them.  They are toys.  They are meant to be fun.  I actually do see some commercial opportunities here with these cameras.  This type of look, feel, and attitude would fit well with a lot of brands.  I would love to be hired to shoot an entire campaign on toy cameras.  That would be a blast.  Then if they could also pay me to watch some Scooby Doo with my son and read the latest adventures of Swamp Thing I would be able to get back at all those who have told me to grow up over the years.  Toys 'R' Us was right.  Growing up isn't something one should want to do.

*Thanks to Ryan Wells and Jimmy Bunting for the camera loans