One of the greatest challenges, for me at least, seems to be carving out time in the schedule to create fresh personal work. New portfolio images, bodies of work revolving around a specific idea for a self-promo piece, that sort of thing. I’ve been feeling a little “creatively stagnant” lately, wishing for a good project idea that felt just right. It’s been way too long since I’ve immersed myself in a long-term photography project that was just for me.
Fortunately, I have some very excellent friends who decided they needed to soak up some rays this week in St. John! The house (and cat) sitting opportunity popped up just at the right time. Their home and land in the country, an hour away, has been a very special place for me over the years. I love their woods and fields and outbuildings, and their log home is a gorgeous retreat for me, whenever I visit. Their property is adjacent to the land I’ve hunted for the past seven years. For me, it’s a sacred place. It’s also been an inspiring and grounding place for me to do my photography. Much of my bowhunting-related work has been shot here, and I’ve spent time photographing many friends here over the years. The heart and soul of the place just feels right to me in so many ways. It seems that every little nook of the place holds promise, and becomes a great little environment to do photography in. My gears started churning to figure out how and what I could make happen while I was in this wonderful place for a few short days.
I decided to take Friday off from my daily place of work, and make a little “creative work retreat” for myself. I saw this as a great opportunity to get re-immersed in things that have been put on the back-burner, to surround myself with inspiring elements, and to get re-energized with the beginning of a new personal project. Once I got my things settled in on Friday afternoon, (it seemed to take forever to get out of Rochester that day,) I set up my iMac, got a nice fire going in the woodstove, and sat down to catch up on some posts for the blog. I’ve yet to publish all of the posts, but made good progress, and will soon make them available. Later that evening, needing a little social interaction, I paid a visit to the home of my good friend, Matt Smythe, a.k.a Fishingpoet. We discussed the heavy topics surrounding brown trout and the whitetail deer, enjoyed the refreshing essence of some Dogfish Head IPA, and I introduced him to the Heartland Bowhunter series of DVD’s. Good, inspiring stuff.
For Saturday, I had scheduled a shoot with Morgan Kennedy, whom I’ve photographed before for Myers Creative Imaging client, Athletica USA. The work we’ve done for Athletica during the past nine years shows up in their cheerleading, softball, volleyball and basketball catalogs. Uniforms, team attire and accessories with custom embroidering is what they do! Morgan has worked with us for more than a year now, modeling for the Girls Got Game Volleyball catalogs, and is currently represented by NY Model and Talent Agency. She and I had been talking for a few months about getting together to do a fun shoot. I’d always felt that her look, personality, energy and spirit would be a great fit with my photography, but I struggled for a while to find just the right concept for the shoot. I wanted it to be something more interesting than just a portrait, something that revolved around an activity or a lifestyle. Something that might tell a little story. Something we could have some fun with.
I suppose that it was the location, in the end, that inspired my idea of creating a little “outdoor lifestyle” pictorial around the activity of building a fire out in the woods on a winter day to make and eat S’mores. Once I had settled on the idea, the images were popping in my brain like a little thunderstorm, (Morgan will have to tell me which part of the brain. She’s a Pre-Med student and knows all the brain parts,) and I could see it all falling in place. We only had about half a day to make it happen, and thankfully, every little necessary element seemed to fall into place just perfectly. There was really great chemistry and energy during the shoot, and I think the results exceeded both our expectations. I’m just thrilled with all of the work, and have felt a great boost on the old Creative Energy Gauge. We shot nearly 900 images, and I’m far from being done editing! There’s so much good stuff here. The ones that accompany this post, though, are images that caught my eye immediately. Ones that felt just right. I really think that they’re going to be setting the tone for the rest of the project.
We had recieved nearly a foot and a half of fresh snow during Friday’s storm. The woods were just perfect on Saturday morning! Morgan and I had talked earlier in the week about my thoughts of what the wardrobe would be for the shoot. I felt that a cozy sweater, mittens and hat were the right thing. Natural fiber, earthtones, textural, warm. Luckily, we’d made a quick stop in to Dick’s Sporting Goods in Victor, NY, and found an Under Armour hat and a little 3-pair pack of gloves (camo, olive, and black,) that fit my vision (and her) just wonderfully! The sweater we chose was one that I’d hauled out of my closet “just-in-case!”
Morgan did a truly exceptional job out there in the cold with me yesterday, and while she may not be an expert at cooking the perfect marshmallow, I’m so very thankful that she made herself available to help get me going on a new project. We worked, laughed, and had fun. I’m anxious to see what the next step forward is in this body of work, and I know that I’ll share it here when it happens. I’ll sign of for now, as I sit here and enjoy my last fire on the last evening of my retreat, listening to some good Reckless Kelly, the Bulletproof album, and wishing that Monday wasn’t coming along quite yet.
Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark 2.
Grant, you’ve done it again. I seen a few of these shots you’ve shared already but the story behind the location really comes alive in the photography. Thanks for sharing.