Headshots: Jesse Wilson, Atlanta, GA
On Assignment in Atlanta, GA
I've been to Atlanta before as a teenager. When my brother finished college, my mom took us down to visit him and see his graduation ceremony. At some point (my memory is kind of fuzzy on this) we went downtown and I saw the CNN building for the first time. At that stage in high school, I was an aspiring journalist-- but I hadn't caught the photography bug just yet. I was a writer. I was a reporter. That was pre-2000. As in, before everyone got their news from the internet. Before newspapers fired most of their photographers and before "citizen journalism" and "user submitted images" became the norm. I worked in newspapers during the tail end of that era, but back then, it was called a courtesy photo. I mean, at least we were making it clear the image had been given to us for free. No, I'm not bitter.
I'm a little bitter. But anyway, going back to Atlanta brought up all kinds of memories from when I was a teenager. And the forces that be decided that I should reach out to my friend from high school, Patrick. I did, and as it turns out, Patrick hooked me up with a sweet deal on a rental while I was there. So to thank him, I offered to do a photo session for him and his husband, Jesse at no charge. A deal was struck and so it was.
Jesse is great. He knew he wanted to do a photo shoot at Ponce Market Square, which offered a bajillion and fifteen different backgrounds and scenes to shoot around. I quickly got the feeling that photo shoots were common here, because people just instinctively noticed the camera and scooted to the side. Yea, that's right. I have the power. Step ah-side.
So the first order of business was to simply pick a random spot and start shooting. It's important to not over-plan or overthink the first scene. It really ought to happen anywhere because the first scene is not meant to be the start of the shoot. I know. You're thinking, "Huh?" But with the exception of seasoned professional models, most people need some kind of icebreaker. The first scene is purely for getting my subject to relax and acclimate to The Big Eye.
Okay, better. Warmer. Closer. We hit a couple more spots and Jesse started ignoring the other pedestrians. He was starting to relax and even try some different poses. Yas! Work, bitch!
Okay, now we're in the full swing of the shoot. He's completely ignoring everyone else and we're starting to collaborate rather than just me giving him directions. This is exactly how a shoot should evolve from beginning to end.
When I first started shooting this scene (below), I had Jesse standing on the larger basket and I was trying to crop out the harsh sunlight coming from the right. We were under a bridge and the sun was coming in at that 45 degree angle. But I wanted a wide shot here. I tried a few different ideas; stand on the basket Jesse, sit on the basket Jesse, reach for the balloon, Jesse. WAIT.
We have a winner. I decided to use that harsh light to my advantage and Jesse was kind enough to whip out a thinker pose for me. Well done, Jesse.
Once we reached the Krog Street Tunnel, we'd walked about 4 miles overall. Good workout! The shoot was coming to an end, but I wanted to experiment a little with slow shutters. Jesse held the flash in front of him and triggered it while I dragged the shutter for up to 3 seconds. It took a few tries, but I think we got some pretty sweet results.
Special thanks to Patrick and Jesse for letting me stay with them in Atlanta while on assignment. For the record, Jesse is also an accomplished musician. You can find his music on iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon. Head over to one of those and give it a listen. I'm an independent artist myself, so supporting Jesse's art means supporting the art community as a whole. Win-win.