MNU Jazz Band – Mainz, Germany

•June 9, 2009 • Leave a Comment

 

Okay, so I haven’t updated this blog in a while. And a lot has happened since I last did. For example, I went on tour with the MidAmerica Nazarene University Jazz Ensemble during the month of May. The trip (3.5 weeks) consisted of many concerts all over Germany and even into Switzerland. My job was to document the whole trip through photos and video. The result was 4513 pictures. To be honest, I’m surprised it wasn’t more. (But I think I was being careful not to run out of memory storage before the trip was over.)  Either way, I have a lot of images to work on this month and then even go through the hours of video I have.  The full galleries with images from each of the cities and sites we went to can be found on my main site at http://www.andrewiwersen.com.  (Not all galleries are finished at this time, but I will continue to update them as I complete them). Anyways, it is my intention to use this blog to kind of dive deeper into what made certain images and the stories behind them.  I really hope that, in this way, you can get a bit more of a glimpse into our experiences over in Europe.

To begin this I am actually starting in the middle of our trip. Mainz, Germany. Don’t ask why I’m doing so, I just am. Sometimes the editing experience is… sporadic. Anyways…

In Mainz we worked with KiA (Kirche in Aktion; http://www.kiamainz.de/).

But how about a look at the Cathedral in Mainz:

Mainz Cathedral 2

Mainz Cathedral 2

Mainz Cathedral and Market

Mainz Cathedral and Market

I have to say, I was completely in love with the architecture on this cathedral. These two shots each show a different side of it. I actually used a film filter (Fuji Superia 100) in Photoshop to give the top pic a certain ‘color-popping’ feel. And then the bottom one has an interesting dynamic, with the cathedral towering up on the edge of the plaza on a beautiful, but busy day at the market.

Also at the cathedral I found this:

Cathedral Statue

Cathedral Statue

Europe is excellent for photos of statues. This one is in front of the cathedral in Mainz, and unfortunately, I don’t remember the story behind the statue. But I absolutely love this shot of it. I also love this next shot of one of the band members, Amanda, taking a moment for prayer inside the cathedral:

Cathedral Prayer

Cathedral Prayer

I went ‘artistic’ with this image and gave it a strong black and white old photo effect. I think the flow of light in this shot and the composition really attracted me to this image (if it doesn’t show).

Here’s a shot from our first concert there:

Mainz Performance

Mainz Performance

This pic shows one of the songs with all of the five vocalists in the band. I think what makes this image interesting is its use of lines. It was certainly good to have another concert where I could take shots from up above. At many of the concerts on the trip, I shot from down low, in order to not be an irritant to the audience’s view. And speaking of audience… 

Mainz Audience

Mainz Audience

This is probably my favorite audience shot from the entire trip. Audience members are a difficult subject to get good photos of. Once they see you getting ready to take a shot of them, they react awkwardly and the moment is lost. It’s a constant battle. But in this instance, I think the camera won. Either way, in my book, this lady is just plain awesome.

Last, for now… my favorite images from our time in Mainz. These were taken after the concert and after everything had been loaded onto the bus. A number of the bands members had congregated in a circle and began to play a game known as “Big Booty”. It’s quite a strange and wild game, and therefore certainly entertaining. I eagerly found my way into the center of the circle and stole a number of fantastic portraits of the members while they were playing. In editing, I went ahead and experimented with two different effects on these. Half of them I used a thermal ‘black’ and ‘white’ film filter (with much tweaking in order to maintain shadows and highlights). The outcome was quite rad, a sort of print film-look using a bluer contrast and overexposures of some whites. (I especially like the one of Adam W.) On the other half, I created what I call a copper/silver effect. It’s really just a colorization and desaturation effect, but it turned out just as cool as the thermal film effect and worked better on a couple of the images. Enjoy:

Kris

Kris

Matt

Matt

Adam Call

Adam C.

Blake

Blake

Sir

Sir

Becky

Becky

Adam W.

Adam W.

Cora

Cora

Ashley

Ashley

Pursuit of Creativity (and a Career).

•March 2, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Okay, so I’ve been trying this whole photography thing for a while now. Just starting to get my ‘foot in the door’ (as the saying goes). One of my recent posts was about how I wanted to make art with my photography, to really pursue being an artist. And so I’ve come to a conclusion…

When I first discovered my passion for photography, I felt the need to try out as many different aspects of it as possible. So I did. I attempted portraits, still life, landscapes, architecture, street, etc.  As I continued to try more and more of a variety of subjects and styles, I learned my forte in each of them. But I’ve also been discovering what it is that really draws me to photography as a whole.

It was only recently, though, that I realized I need to specialize. We live in a world of ‘specialized’ media and ‘interest-specific’ groups. I understand that this idea and concept has been a large part of occupational pursuits and careers for many people. On one hand it is an excellent ability to become a ‘renaissance’ person, being skilled in a broad range of subjects. But on the other hand, it is those who are specialized in certain areas that we find ourselves going to when we look for excellence.

Photography is a specialized field as a whole. But at the same time, there are so many different ways to approach photography; different subjects, different skills.  As a photographer, I believe it is important to understand the elements necessary for shooting each subject.  Yet it is artists who come out of someone who has poured their entire skill into exploring one subject further than any other. You might know a photographer who takes good portraits of people, but is an artist when it comes to their landscape photography.

Unfortunately, I live in a world run by capital.  As I have seen it so far, photography can almost be graphed by which subjects offer the most money (Disclaimer: This is from a ‘local’ perspective. It is somewhat different when one reaches a more professional level).  The one I hear so often that makes a continuous flow of money is Wedding photography.  Also up there is Advertising photography (which may be above wedding photography, but is much more dependent on your experience level.). After that tends to be formal Portraits (family, senior, children, etc.).  Then comes Journalistic photography.  Lastly, I would say is Still Life/Street/Candid/etc. (You know, the artistic stuff.)

Here’s my take on those:

Wedding Photography – People will continue to get married for quite some time. People like to have good images chronicling the entire experience and ceremony. People will always pay a good amount of money to make sure they have a good photographer to do an excellent job capturing their Happiest Day. Unfortunately, a lot of friend’s have told me this can be a nightmare for a photographer.  It is a very different style of photography and should not be approached lightly; especially since your client has such high expectations, it being their wedding and all.  Don’t get me wrong, this is a good specialization and does offer plenty of income for those who wish to pursue it.

Advertising – I believe this to be a very specialized type of photography. It certainly takes a unique approach and a unique set of skills.  This is a very good field to get into because it will always offer work. Companies are always advertising, and let’s face it… we live in a very visual economy.  But I also believe it takes a lot of effort to work your way up the ladder in this field. Plus, not a huge amount of recognition will be there for you after all is said and done.

Fashion – You may be asking why I didn’t include this in my original list. My answer is that it is not a field ‘amateur’ photographers easily have access to. Yes, there is a huge world of this type of photography, and yes, there are a lot of fashion photographers.  But the door to it is very narrow and takes a major interest in the field to really pursue it to what it fully offers.  I might say it could lead to offering more money than advertising photography or wedding photography, but certainly not until you are very far into it.  Another very specialized style.

Portraits – So many people to photograph.  From young families to old, from little babies to senior pics… Common people will always look to having these types of images taken. One for the desk, or the family scrapbook, or to hang over the fireplace.  This is a fairly easy field for ‘amateur’ photographers to get into, since it is in such high demand. For a long time ahead of us there will be seniors graduating, family reunions, proud parents with new babies, and the list goes on.  Yes, there is money to be had in this, and there will always be work.  But since we are dealing with common people, the money is not as high as the other categories. As well, I believe there isn’t as much creative freedom within this category. There is a standard of what is needed (the common portrait), but only within that can you sprinkle a little of your own creativity into the mix.  So, it’s just an ‘hteh’ style of photography. Not bad, but not too great either.

Journalistic – This photography has been known to bring us some of the most influential photos of all time. Unfortunately, those are the few and far between. You can guarantee a lot of people will see your work, but you can’t guarantee that they’ll care too much about it. This photography expresses information.  There are many jobs available in this field, and it can offer a good salary. But unless you are working for some of the most famous journalistic companies, it isn’t super fantastic money or recognition.

The Artistic stuff – This field is the pinnacle of creativity. From the really formal to the really strange.  It’s what hobbyists like to do. The photographer sees something in a way nobody else could see it and then they try to explain it to everybody else.  It’s great, and a lot of fun.  But let’s be honest, in the ‘local’ world and as an amateur photographer… you aren’t going to sell much of these.  You have to be quite renown to make the amount of money one would make with some of the other styles of photography.  And if you only do this type of photography, climbing the ladder will definitely take some time and a lot of risky investment.

So what’s the point of all of this… Obviously there are other fields of photography and even fields inside of these categories listed above.  Again I want to say that this list is only from the perspective of an amateur.  When one steps into the professional world, the amount of money and recognition goes way up and totally throws that list into a spiral of misrepresentation.  But it is these categories that one in my position must consider when it comes to developing a career in photography (which is certainly what I would like to do. Nothing like getting to do what I love, but being able to support myself or a family because of it also.).

I discovered a passion for photography that I don’t want to give up. I found an explosive amount of creativity running through me when it comes to this ‘hobby’.   So how can I apply it to help me support myself and my desire for it in this crazy monetary world?

So I made my decision… One that I didn’t make lightly…

I have decided to specialize in photography for artists/musicians/actors/etc.  This is my chosen outlet.

The reasoning:

Creativity – This is the main reason.  Though all of the categories mentioned above do allow for some creativity, I felt like the majority of the money-making ones kept that amount of creativity very limited.  I struggle with the idea of using my art to create only the necessary image. I long for creative works and capturing creative subjects. That happens occasionally in the other categories, but happens most, from what I understand, when you work with those who are creative.  Something that can help me make money, and allow me to be creative!?! That’s fantastic!

Location – I know this is tied more into my career ‘goal’ or dream of how I ‘climb the ladder’… But I feel that because of my location, specializing in artists/musicians is a good choice. I live in the Kansas City area. Not the West Coast or East Coast (though I do miss living out on the West Coast). Those are the places with the majority of artists. Kansas City… quite a lot less in comparison. However, even though it is less… there are still quite a lot.  In my dreamed ‘career path’, I can use this specialization to acquire a few photo shoots for a few artists in the Kansas City area.  From there, this can lead me to other artists who mysteriously network with those artists.  Little by little, my work with these different artists grows and my name becomes more popular amongst more and more artists in the Kansas City area.  Then eventually those artists, themselves, become more popular and other artists see their work, in turn seeing my work for them.  Word quickly spreads and more artists in the Midwest look to me for photography. And as the model is ever expanding… I eventually get to the point where some artists want me to come out to the coast to shoot photos for them. Before I know it, I’m the next Jeremy Cowart. Okay, perhaps that is stretching it a bit. But I think you get the point. There is a lot of opportunities for me to get a start in the field by working with the artists in this area. And as I said… This is Kansas City I’m starting in… there are less photographers (some yes, but less) that specialize in this type of photography here.  It would be cool to become the ‘go-to guy’ for any artists in the Kansas City area needing photos. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves…

So this is my decision. Of course I will still take photos that fall under the other categories.  I will still find myself doing wedding/portraits/journalistic/fashion/advertising/artistic works.  But they will not be my focus.  With this choice I feel like I can mix my enjoyment for the artistic stuff with the form and money of the portrait and advertising work.  I see it as the best of both worlds.

And I agree this has been a long post, it is my statement of purpose in Photography.  It’s my decision to pursue a career and, at the same time, not lose my love for photography.  And so in closing…

I begin my journey.

Art.

•February 20, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Today, while studying works by pictorialists a part of the photo-secession, I realized my own attempt at photography was on the wrong path.  I suddenly felt like all (save one or two) of my photos were just ‘pics’.  As one might imagine this threw me into accepting that I am just a beginner.  However I long for so much more… When people view my photography I long to be realized as an artist.  I want people to be intrigued, moved, or emotionally aroused by my images.  And up to this point I have achieved nothing close to that.

I have come to understand that up to this point, all of my photography has been along the path of looking at subjects and trying to photograph them artistically.  And it has worked so far.  (At least, enough to get friendly responses from people viewing my work at Homer’s Coffeehouse during the month of January.)   Unfortunately, taking artistic photos is not the same as making art.

Therefore, I begin my journey to change my pursuit.  It is from here that I shall attempt photography as an art.  Instead of finding what’s artistic about interesting subjects, I am going to create art using interesting subjects.  I’m going to explore what’s less realistic, but more True.  I’m going to become an artist.  Welcome to my new journey.

Unfortunately it isn’t going to be easy.  And I will probably find many people who won’t like it.  It certainly won’t offer me much of an income.  But if there is one thing I know, it is to pursue your passions.  As a wise janitor once told me, “Once you know who you really are, nothing else matters”.  I am this passion.  So here I go.