Years ago, I was asked to shoot a brochure for a printing company in New Orleans. The theme of the brochure was “something’s cooking at Upton”. The designer had me go to five of the best known restaurants in and around the city; best known not to the tourists, but to the locals. I was to take a portrait of the owners, and had received a free hand to approach the portraits in whatever manner I wanted.
As I tell my online students with the PPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet, if you want to take your photography what I refer to as “up a notch”, scout your locations ahead of time. Know where the sun is going to be so you’re not somewhere at sunrise when you should have been there at sunset.
The fourth restaurant on my list was Sal & Judy’s Restaurant on the South side of New Orleans. I went there the day before to meet the owners and to determine when the best time to shoot was going to be. I pulled up in front and the pink building hit me in the face. I was ecstatic!!! A pink building…wow!!! That faced West!!!
As I stood there an idea started to form in my mind. It was Pre-Visualization at it’s finest. I tell my fellow photographers that if I can visualize a photo in my mind, given the time I can re-create it on film.
As I stood there I saw in my mind three bands of color spreading across the frame from left to right. I saw a band of blue (the sky), a band of pink (the building), and I needed a third band of color. something that would tie it all together…including the portrait of Sal and Judy…an idea leaped out from my mind.
I introduced myself to Sal and told him I was the one sent to take his and his wife’s portrait. I asked him if he knew anyone that had a green convertible, thinking that the odds were not in my favor. He looked surprised and said, “Well hell yes, I have one”. This was way tooooo good to be true I said to myself.
“What do you own?” I said to Sal. “A 1966 Oldsmobile Cutlass Convertible”, Sal replied. I thought I was hearing things!!! I asked him if he would bring it the next day, and explained my idea. I told Sal what to wear and to have his wife wear something that would go with the green car. When they showed up driving the car, I knew I had struck pay dirt…a portrait for my portfolio.
As I started shooting, one of the waitresses came out to tell Judy something. I immediately saw her black and white striped uniform and knew what I had to do do add a “layer of Interest”. I had all three women come out with a screwdriver on their trays to add yet another splotch of color.
It was great fun and it reminded me of the days before photography when I was an art major studying painting and design. I was still painting, only I had changed the medium from a paintbrush to a camera.
Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2014 workshop schedule. I also have two places left for my coordinated trip with Epic Photo Tours in Myanmar next February. a fabulous country rich in photo opportunities. Come shoot with me.
Don’t forget to send me a photo and question to:AskJoeB@gmail.com, and receive a video critique of your image.