Age is Only a Number

People hire someone based off of the experience in their craft and how long they have worked at it. Right? Now, when you hear the label "student", you think, "someone who is in school working toward their desired career." Correct, I totally agree. But just like any other label, it holds people back, it can hide what is truly underneath it. At 22 years-old, I am still a student. I have been for 18 years and in December I will be done, I will earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in Commercial Photography; and what I am most excited for is to rid the label "student".

This is an example of what a photography class looks like... looks a lot like being on set.

This is an example of what a photography class looks like... looks a lot like being on set.

Throughout the last seven years of school, I have also been working hard to build my photography portfolio and business. I have been lucky and found something I am truly passionate about early in life. Because I immersed myself entirely into the world of photography, I have been able to work for a few publications, have opportunities to meet and work with many amazing people, and have won several awards for my photography. Even after this, I still struggle with people, specifically older people, using my age and the fact that I am a student as an excuse for lack of knowledge, talent, and experience, and a way to undervalue my work and pay me next to nothing for the work I do for them. Most of the work I have done to date I have been underpaid, and the funny thing is, I have been a photographer longer than some professionals. For years, this has affected me but it no longer does. Finally, I know my worth and I value my work and time.

Recently, I photographed my first editorial and when I saw how much I was getting paid, I cried instantly. Pathetic, I know...! Even though it was a small editorial pay, it had been my biggest paycheck yet. This photo editor didn't know my age or the fact that I am still in school, she solely paid me based off of my work and the 'about me' section on my website. I was given a small taste of what it feels like to have people trust me and what I do based on my portfolio and what they see online. Now, obviously, as I continue doing work such as this, I will become more credible and more and more people will start to trust me. Fingers crossed!

I am so f*cking proud of what I have done at such a young age. And there are so many other young photographers that should feel the same. Of course, we are still learning and there is so much for all of us to learn but that shouldn't be an excuse to degrade someone and their work; even the most high-end photographers have new things to learn.Let's stop this stigma that just because someone is a student or of a young age that he or she fails to do as good of a job as someone who is older. 

-E

BREAKDOWN | BRADY DROBNY

I feel like I spend all of my days either shooting, editing or sleeping; thankfully those are all of my favorite things. I work a lot and when I have nothing planned I get the urge to create. I am lucky enough to have an apartment full of creatives who are always down to make things. One evening I was looking the beginnings of my print portfolio and was figuring out what was missing or what could be better. I needed more creative environmental portraits which is where this idea began. 

I live with my boyfriend, Bryce, his younger brother, Brady, and my friend, Molly. Brady has always had a really cool vibe to him and I have photographed him a few times before but never felt that I have captured him honestly. 

CONCEPT | After bouncing around some ideas with everyone we came to the decision to photograph Brady fully clothed in his bathtub. Brady is quite a careless man so I wanted to create an image that portrayed that through the location and what he has around him. Molly staged his coffee, cigarettes, pills and alcohol around the bath and also made the bathtub look dirty with her makeup artistry magic. 

LIGHTING | For this photo, I wanted to create relatively natural lighting but still have there be dimension and shape on his face. This bathroom is tiny so fitting three bodies and my 47in umbrella in there was tricky. We made it work and the strobe was held by Bryce right above Brady with the undiffused silver umbrella. 

SHOOTING | I knew I wanted something slightly more overhead. My portfolio was certainly missing images with different angles. I decided to sit on top of a wobbly toilet and shoot down over him. I wanted him to make eye contact with me and just interact with the environment and items around him, keeping the pose fairly natural and candid. 

POST PRODUCTION | This is definitely one of the more simple edits I have done. Right off the bat I knew I wanted the image to lean more towards the green/yellow side. I wanted the image to feel grungy and dirty. So most of the work in post was perfecting the color while keeping the skin tones neutral but on the warmer side. Not much retouching went into this aside from removing unnatural streaks on the bathtub and his arms that just seemed too much.

 

Here is the final image:

On to the next one...

-E

 

 

ENVIRONMENTAL PORTRAITS PROJECT

Portraiture has been something I have loved from the very beginning. There is something about capturing the subtle nuances that are brought forth during a photoshoot. I recently began focusing on a project photographing people in the places that describe them best; whether that be in their home or at the place they work. Through the use of lighting and composition, I tried to enhance not only the subject within the photograph but also the environment they are in as well. So without further ado, here are several of my favorite images so far and how I captured each image.

 

MADDIE ROGERS

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Maddie is a wonderful photographer and friend who I had the pleasure of meeting in one of my photography courses at Columbia College Chicago. 

To get this photograph I scouted her room to find the best space that truly showed who she is. I loved the idea of having her room in the background while still showing parts of her living room filled with personal photographs and little trinkets. I lit this with two strobes, the key being to the left of the subject with a 47in umbrella softbox with CTO and a second light placed in her bedroom with CTO. I wanted to keep the lighting as a natural as possible while making it feeling warm and homey.

Take a look at her beautiful work at www.maddierogersphotography.com 

 

KEN DUNN

Ken Dunn is an urban sustainability legend. He is the founder of The Resource Center, which runs City Farm in Chicago. City Farm is an urban farm that takes the food waste from local restaurants, uses it as compost, and then grows organic vegetables. Once grown, City Farm sells the vegetables back to those same restaurants.

While working for Columbia College's FRANK Magazine, I was able to meet Ken and photograph him at City Farm. This photograph was lit with a single speedlight with a bare 47in umbrella, keeping the light soft but making it pop a little more than if I had put diffusion on it.

 

KATIE TURNER

Katie is a great friend of mine and was my roommate last year. As an environmentalist myself, she is incredibly inspiring with her love for the planet and how she volunteers her time. 

This portrait was taken at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, which is one of Katie's favorite places. Initially, I wanted to do something outdoors with Lake Michigan behind her. Though, with the Chicago wind and no assistant, it was impossible to get my light to stay up and not get blown away. We made the rash decision to see if we could photograph inside the aquarium. Thankfully, we were allowed but needed to avoid the areas where the animals could see the flash. The lobby of the Shedd is beautiful so I had no problem photographing with that as the background. This was lit with a single speed light to the right of the subject and by keeping my shutter speed low, I let the ambient light shine through a bit more (pun-intended!).

Take a look at here blog: www.styletongue.com

 

ANDREA CALVETTI

Andrea is an Italian man who is captivated by American culture. I have known of Andrea for a couple years now and only recently finally met him and I have always wanted to photograph him. His mind and creativity are honorable and he creates such beautiful images and films. 

To get this photograph I had Andrea sit in the back of his beloved Buick Electra. I had my speed light outside the left window and kept it at a lower power to let the ambient light come through. I wanted to show as much of the red seats as I could so this was at a wide, 24mm focal length.

 

BRYCE DROBNY

Bryce is an incredible cinematographer and just so happens to be my boyfriend. His work has inspired me from the moment I met him and I honestly would not be where I am today if it weren't for him.

I photographed this just after Bryce wrapped on his short film, Paranoia. With the help of his production designer, we created a dynamic set with the Panavision and it's cases. Initially, I had started lighting this with one of my strobes but I wanted to bring in more of the background light but the light from my strobe was too powerful, so I switched to a speed light. I attached my soft box umbrella and thew on some CTO on the light and white balanced for tungsten lighting so the background would become more blue/green.

Take a look at his work at www.brycedrobny.com

 

IVAN BRUNETTI

Ivan is an illustrator and cartoonist for The New Yorker and a few other publications. 

Ivan was kind enough to let me into his home and up to his small, quaint attic studio to grab a couple shots of him at his drafting table. To set the scene he brought out a cartoon sketch he had been working on. With this image, I wanted to mimic window light so to the left of the subject there is a speed light with a 47in softbox umbrella lighting him.

 

HAROLD BAILEY

I officially met Harold on Bryce's film set for Paranoia, as he was the gaffer. Harold is always such a happy and positive human and I admire that about him.

This photograph was taken on the final day of Paranoia as we were loading up the grip truck. I was having lighting issues so this was the only frame I grabbed with the light actually working. Harold was laughing at me trying as I was to get the darn light to work which resulted in an image I think I truly shows Harold as he is.

 

BRADY DROBNY

Brady is Bryce's younger brother. I met him even before I met Bryce and we were good friends for a little while. He is an absolute sweetheart.

This image was a complete and total accident but I fell in love with it from the moment I saw it show up on the back of my camera. This photograph was taken bright and early in the morning after a night of camping. I think it really encapsulates who Brady is. To light this there is a speed light camera right with a 47in softbox umbrella to soften up the light hitting him.

 

There you have it! If you have any questions or comments about any of these photographs, don't hesitate to ask.

-E