David Price checks in with this assessment of Project 52.
“My thanks to Don Giannatti, whom I found as Wizwow on one of the lighting forums, and followed him to Lighting Essentials. What a terrific resource! When I first heard about Project 52, I wasn’t certain what to think. Real-world situations with critiques. I sat back the first few weeks and watched, and I listened. The critiques were full of really good information. The community that was building in was just that, a community. I decided to jump in part way through, and I’m glad I did.
I am a music teacher by trade, with a life-long affinity for photography. I have always liked taking people portraits, usually at parties and other events. I know that I would like to build my skills as a portrait and event photographer, on the ever-increasing chance that music in the public schools is something that is taken away from my students, like it has for so many others around the country.
Project 52 provided a chance to hone a skill set specifically of a professional commercial photographer, but I see the value in what we are learning translates to a wide variety of photographic endeavors – editorial, portrait, wedding & events, and others. Yes, I’m eclectic. I think they’re all important, and inter-related.
What did I learn?
I shot to layout for the first time. I took my first pour shot. Planning, dealing with lighting levels background to foreground, reflectors, shiny surfaces, clear-ish liquids, set size – heck, a set location – pouring action, and triggering the camera, oh my… I had even shot the pour from the wrong side and gotten the label upside down. Oops. But still, I learned from it and moved on.
I was able to use skills learned from that to plan out and try lighting a perfume bottle. That went much smoother than the pour shot. It was also the first project of the year that Don complimented, and that felt really good.
I tackled my fear of the unknown and took shots of strangers for the first time with my local fire department. I treated that like a service project. They got pictures for their personal use (prints, Facebook, etc.) if they liked, and in trade I got access, time, and a chance to meet some pretty cool people and a neat, new firehouse.
I liked the idea of macro photography before, and couple of the assignments gave me an opportunity to try a new-to-me macro bellows. The hard part was holding the coin in focus while getting enough light to the right place. The bellows put the coin so close to the lens to be in focus that there was very little space to get the light onto the face. That was tough.
As I said above, I have always liked taking pictures of people. This year I tried to improve from just taking good grab shots to a level of trying a studio portrait or two with a magazine-level lighting, or using reflectors so that my available light shooting also improved. I can still hear Don saying, “Don’t lose them into the background. Separate them, even if only a little…”
I tried but failed a few assignments. I lived. I learned something. I’ll try it again. I’m not there yet and I know it. But, my misses are getting closer to what I want them to be, and that was a big part of why I decided to jump in when this opportunity came along.”
More from David and photographs from his portfolio after the jump.
“Not related directly to Project 52, and yet in every way related to it, I tried and succeeded in taking a family portrait against a sunset. I followed that a short time later by trying a backlit silhouette shot of a couple. I’m stretching, learning, and able to achieve a little more and more each time.
In musical terms, I am still learning scales, arpeggios, and etudes so that I can later freeform improvise, but with an intelligent background knowledge walking in the door. I’ll get there.
I’m finding my voice.
The one thing I had never had before was honest critique, both positive and, well, “how to improve for next time.” Don was willing to do that week in and week out across this past year, and for that, I thank him. It was a great opportunity this year.”
Some of David’s Images:
Thank you David, and it was a pleasure, sir.
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