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Field Day

Lesson 10 from: The Method to a Successful (and Fulfilling) Photography Career

Alex Strohl

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Lesson Info

10. Field Day

Lesson Info

Field Day

(air whooshing) (peaceful music) So this is the field day. I opted for a very intimate shoot of my dad, actually, who's just back there. The decision came from just being here at home in France where I grew up. I thought, why just complicate things? Why not just make it about what's here already and actually do a photo set about my dad's life? 'Cause I spend so much time away and his life has changed, but not a ton since he's been retired, so it's almost like this immovable thing now, this routine he does day in and day out that I wanna capture on photo. I'm almost seeing it as a, I'd say that I've thought about who'd be the public for this set. And it could almost be his grandsons or just a family, 'cause whenever he's not around anymore we could have this tribute to his day, almost. So what I've done today is simply decided on a few things. First I've thought about what I wanna show and not show. I've decided on the scope of my set, which is a slice of time, pretty much half the da...

y. Dad, anyway, sleeps until noon now, which, you know, I'm happy for him, he sleeps a lot. So his day kind of begins at 2 and now it's 2:33, so we're just following him from now until the end of his day. (peaceful music) So we're approaching the place where my dad is working, I think he's cutting a tree right now and I see where he is, but I'm gonna walk from above just to see what kind of view we're working with, so take some time to work out the angles instead of just walking straight into the action. So take a little bit of time to just walk around and scout. (peaceful music continues) (engine rumbling) (engine roaring) (camera clicking) I'm gonna switch to a different lens here. Been doing a 35 mostly. Now I'm gonna go a bit wider since I've got some cool closeups. So once you get your shot, get it, move on to the next shot on your list, at least the mental list. And never leave your bag in the way, 'cause you never know when it's gonna come bite you back when you're trying to take a photo far away. Earlier I was shooting with the which allows you to pretty much get the whole thing done. But because I have the luxury of having big bag, being close to the location, I can also bring my 16 and my 7,200 to get a bit more. So with the 16, for example, my hope is to get something establishing. Right now it's kind of bushy, so I think we can do better. I'm shooting them anyways, a few establishing shots just in case I don't get a second chance. This is documentary, right, so it's not about staging it, but more about working with what's happening and maybe guiding it, you know, what if we just, what's going on up there, what do you have on the property, where the sun is, for example. (engine roaring) (peaceful music continues) (camera clicks) So I was noticing my dad's breath in the back light when I was shooting from the other side. So I just thought I'd put the 7,200 on to kind of get a close up of the steam coming out to show it's cold, and it also looks cool. (peaceful music builds) (camera clicking) I like to do work that is kind of a mix of giving direction and letting things happen. So here, I was, I mean, he's cutting up a tree, right, so very little direction I can give, it's really loud, so I'm just walking around my angles, looking with the light is hitting, looking one step ahead of what he's gonna do, the subject's gonna do, so if he's cutting here, I might just start placing somewhere further where he's gonna go. So I'm just ready to go, settings done, starting to get the technical out of the way. And when the subject is finished or we can interrupt him, then I can start placing him and work out the light. So I wanted to get a portrait of my dad with the light, it was hitting his hair quite nicely, and I thought we could improve it by grabbing the chain cell and then just where to put his body so, the point of this is that, you have to work a fine line when you're setting up documentary work. I'm not saying for a commercial, but this is more documentary to me, and that's what I really love. You have to work this fine line of letting things happen and changing the behavior. Just through practice you'll be able to know when you're overstepping and when you're making things a bit forced, you'll see your subject starts to get a bit tense. So just, do and course correct as you do. So now we're in the second part of the day, the fire. So after chatting with my dad, asking what he was up to, he said he had some fires he could burn still, so I thought it'd be a good idea, especially now, the sun is setting in half an hour, we're gonna go into blue hour. And you know what I think about orange colors and blue skies. (chuckles) So I thought this would be very perfect, but the fire, not the fire, the brush was already piled up, so it was all ready to go. Now I'm just gonna be shooting some with the 35 while he, I mean, he's always doing something, he's a really easy subject, right? (chuckles) I don't even have to say anything, when we came he just started the fire and just kind of working over the shoulder, so this really ties really well into the assignment I gave you in the episodes earlier, which is to do a project that is close to you. This is really close to me, I grew up doing this with him and now 15 years later it's like, gone full circle. I don't get to participate as much 'cause I'm taking photos, but it's almost like I'm living it with him, and yeah, it's a really privileged moment for me. (peaceful music) (speaking French) With his, oh yeah, there it is. Yeah, I'm framing, I'm using the smoke to create half the frame as just smoke and the other half I'm waiting for some cool shapes from the smoke to use the composition to sort of frame my dad within the smoke. So it's just about waiting. (camera clicks) Just looking for new angles, pretty much. I quite like this really wide angles from close up, because some of the deformation, actually, I think can help place the subject. (peaceful music continues) So now, again, now that I've got some cool high angles, I'm gonna go and get the 7, and get some very minimal shots of the smoke and the subject. Just looking to get a photo of the rake in the fire, like a very minimal shot. (camera clicks) So I'm just picking my battles now. Dad still has to deliver the wood with the tractor, we're losing the light, so now I either keep shooting the fire and forget about the wood, or actually try to inject the tractor element to end the shoot and get a last shot as he goes to deliver the wood with the light in the back and some views. So, it's either getting blue hour with the fire, or getting blue hour with the tractor. And I think I got enough photos of the fire, so I think we can just do the tractor now. I'm gonna position myself so I can get dad going by and the sunset, and some of the smoke he's made, actually, looks like fog. So extra points for luck there. So I'm hoping there's a cool viewpoint here of the road. Yeah. It's pretty good. (peaceful music continues) Hmm. That's a cool angle, that's a cool angle. Scouted. I think we have one minute to kill, so why not go see what the view is like there? This is cool, but there's no twisty twist to the road, it looks straight, and here there's a little bend. So, I like to use all the time I can, just to scout for the best looking piece of topography. (ethereal music) Yeah, I think it was better there. (moves to peaceful music) (camera clicking) (photographer laughs) (engine rumbling) He's in a hurry 'cause he is afraid of not seeing, of not getting enough daylight to unload all the wood. Gotta work with your subject. So we should go get in- (camera clicking) (peaceful music continues)

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Ratings and Reviews

Janelle Dransfield

A helpful combination of mindful and technical! I loved all aspects of the lessons Alex taught in this workshop! They were well thought out, specific, and easy to follow. Each category had numbered lists of steps, followed by more specific descriptions of them. The lesson about the art of negotiation, as well as the one out in the field with his dad were both full of really helpful first hand knowledge. (Also, side note: loved how his dad did NOT care about the production hahaha. Just a man about his business. A perfect example of someone you document and direct when you can!) The only reason I didn't give this five stars was because of the uncut interview episode with another photographer about how to find motivation. It was the longest episode, but there wasn't a lot of content there, and the video was really drawn out considering how much was actually being said. Maybe if the person being interviewed had been given an idea of the questions before hand, or if all the dead space had been edited out in-between, it would have felt like a little bit less of a filler? That being said, I really enjoyed this course overall and got a lot out of it! Well priced, and I would definitely buy again.

Oswaldo Martinez

Phenomenal guide to find YOUR reasons to be better This might be my favorite workshop from Alex. He shares amazing insights and provides frameworks to help you understand the why behind what you do, and plenty of valuable advice into how you can improve or find your own motivations. Loved this one.

Tommaso Novi

Absolutely amazing. You can see the works these community put in this course, is simply amazing and incredible. Inspiring is the right word!

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