Saturday, June 14, 2008

Thank God for creative subjects...

There are days now and then where you're just not feeling creative... your creativity is like a fountain in a town square – and as you approach you find that it's dry as a bone – just discolored by impurities of the water and the corrosion of the pennies nickels and dimes people have been throwing into it hoping for a miracle.

Sometimes you simply feel defeated before you even pick up your camera. Well, at least sometimes I do.

Living Well covers can be very challenging to shoot. Personally it makes me respect photographers whose jobs it is to shoot for magazine covers. You have to keep in mind that you're really composing a nearly square picture in a rectangular camera frame, that the masthead and lots of headlines will be placed over your picture.

On a day that I wasn't feeling too hot, I got handed an assignment for a Living Well cover story about stay-at-home dads. I was to photograph Phillip Kerwin and his three kids at home in Neenah. Phil was really cool and overly energetic right off the bat. He became even cooler when he started riffing on really good ideas for posed cover photographs.

My favorite: "Why don't I get inside the jungle gym with the kids on top and it'll be like this symbolic thing like being in a cage.

"Sure," I said with a smile. And we went with it.

I'm not Annie Leibovitz. I'll never claim to be. I'm really not generally good at portraits. This isn't a very dynamic photo, but it filled the assignment's need and it was kind of fun in the end. Because of the publication's format, the cover shots tend to be somewhat formulaic, lots of color, simple, people, some clean space for words.

Thankfully, we're usually able to stick around and shoot some candids for the inside pages.
Phillip Kerwin plays with two of his three children, Agii, 4, left, and Joe, 9, in their back yard in Neenah, Wis., Wednesday afternoon, June 4, 2008.
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