Part 1: Editorial Photography Assignment, Sulpher Springs, TX
The folks at Planet Magazine asked me to do a two-part editorial photography project for them in Texas. The subjects were Lufthansa executives in Huston and Vanessa Moreau-Sipiere who owns Centurion Freight Forwarding, in Sulpher Springs, TX, which specializes in shipping horses and cattle to the middle east.
I am told it is unusual for a woman to perform this role with middle eastern clients but she seems to fit right in. She actually flies with all the horses she and her family raise on the family ranch and delivers them personally. She is young, capable and runs the business alone. This is probably my favorite editorial photography assignment of the year.
Since I travel to Texas alone, I had to keep my photography equipment light.
- 1 Camera Bag
- 1 box of Interfit S1 mono lights with two 500 watt heads
- 1 tripod
- 1 light stand bag
- 1 softbox
- 2 umbrellas
- 1 Sunbounce Diffuser
- 1 foldable 5 in 1 reflector
- 1 iPad
- 1 Rock and Roller Multi-Cart to carry everything.
It was also the first time in 20 years that I worked on a job that included lighting but no assistant, so I was a bit hesitant at first. But ever since I upgraded to my new portable lighting equipment, it has made photographing assignments alone much easier. All of my lighting equipment weighs almost one-half of my previous Dynalite 2000 system. 28lbs vs 55 lbs per kit.
Besides the logistical coordination, this editorial photography assignment was challenging because it required a combination of editorial photojournalism and portrait photography as well as some commercial and post-production skills.
For instance, for the principal portrait, the horses had to be arranged and managed so I could use their forms to frame Vanessa for the principle portrait. That required people to hold the light stand and softbox so the wind and horses would not nock them down. Other people had to gather, coax and keep the horses in place in the foreground and background for context.
Additionally, since we did not have weeks to find the perfect moment, we had to derive an idea of what Vanessa did and what it looked like in a day-and-a-half. Then have her do it with added production values.
I was not able to shoot to my iPad during much of the day because the high heat and humidity made it inoperable and technically too difficult to set up along with lighting and managing the shoot in a timely manner while folks were waiting. I could see I had the images and values I needed to make the pictures work.
Sometimes I fill flashed some scenes during daylight for added production value. It was relatively easy because the Interfit lights are lightweight, cordless and they are triggered and controlled with a small radio remote attached to the camera.
Switching from a photojournalist mode to portrait mode while always considering the production values has become second nature to me. Although my clients want a documentary and authentic feel to the images they contract, I think they have come to expect a level of production not present in pure documentary photography. So I tell a story but bring the tools to add some lighting and post-production when necessary.
The weather was fabulous; albeit in the 90’s, the writer whom I was traveling with was amazingly helpful and extremely well versed in all genres of music so we had a lot to talk about. Vanessa and her family were more than gracious and generous to a fault with their time and hospitality. For a day-and-a-half, everyone acted as assistants and helped with whatever I needed. I am grateful to everyone who participated in the shoot. Thank you all.