My Own Space: A Starting Point

And so it begins...

Lighting gear takes up a good bit of space. Taken at Help-Portrait 2013 by photographer Juan Rodriguez

Over the past few years, my photography has taken a very intentional step in the direction of portraiture. I realized shooting weddings that the human connection that drew me to people wasn't really isolated to the bride and groom. There were parents whose stories I found more interesting, guests who were characters straight out of a Dickens story, groomsmen fresh off the set of Inkmaster with amazing tattoos. Which, is all really cool... unless you're there to shoot the bride and groom.

At first, I started to pursue personal work that was more planned, methodical, produced. I looked for people whose experiences I could mold and shape into something that I felt painted their story through my life's perspective. Ok... ok... you caught me. That's really an overblown description of a process that, in retrospect, I had no clue was going on whilst in the middle of. I just knew I was enjoying it, and wanted to do more.

That's the beauty / conundrum of art. If, at some point, you're just doing it for the sheer joy of doing it, patterns emerge. You start to recognize things you're drawn to, things that, at the moment you trip the shutter, stop your heart for a moment. Then you focus on that, and you do more of it, and more, and more. Then one day, you wake up and go, "Duh. Self, there's good reason you love this. Let's (the royal we) now be intentional about doing even more of that." At least that's how it is for me. I'm also pretty sure there's a picture of me next to the ADD diagnostics in the DSM V. Your process may vary. End results atypical and not guaranteed.

As I've taken up being intentional about portraits, and stories, and seeking out people whose lives I find interesting, I've grappled with the technicals of how to translate that into imagery. I've studied folks I consider to be masters, Platon, Gregory Heisler, Joe McNally, Dan Winters, Brad Trent, Zack Arias, Jeremy Cowart, Peter Hurley, John Keatley, and the list goes on, and on, and on. I've pushed myself into personal work that has challenged me, quite intentionally. Sometimes that's good, sometimes that's bad. When it's bad, thank GOD it's personal work. Phew. Bullet, dodged.

All of that to say, I've reached the point that I need a sketchbook, a scratchpad, somewhere to experiment. A physical space that is mine to put into pixels what is currently little more than a soup of neurotransmitters and tenuous electrical connections in an ADD mind. (Sidebar: lighting equipment takes up a lot, a lot of room.

Thus, I'm building a studio. Modest in size, but a heck of a short commute down a couple of flights of stairs to get going. My amazing wife (long tired of our foyer being turned into a studio on a regular basis) has given me free reign over half of the basement, to transform it into my own personal space to create, which my friend Megan has unofficially dubbed "the creative lair." While a bit medieval and solitary, in essence that's it. Space to do, to create, to talk, to learn, to fail, and to succeed.

Not an uncommon scene in my foyer / living room.

Not an uncommon scene in my foyer / living room.

I'll be blogging about it with a bit of a lag, as I'm already a few weeks into the build. For up to the minute pictures, my instagram account is a good spot to keep an eye on. I'll be chronicling it here in words as well.

Along the way, I'll also probably blog about any number of things, being the easily distracted soul that I am, but for now, we'll start with the "why" of a studio. Stay tuned for some how, and the ups and downs that come along with it.

What's your process for quieting the noise and finding your creative center? Do you inhabit a physical space, a room, or perhaps a favorite chair? Do you meditate? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!