It's one thing to be in awe of a photographer, but then to have that photographer actually take a portrait of you in their style because you are friends, well, that's a pretty awesome feeling.
I've known photographer Edward James for what seems like years. I discovered him through Flickr. He's local to my area, and I've always just had this love for his work. One of the things that fascinates me so much about him is he's an absolute minimalist photographer; he has 2 cameras and 2 lenses and a tripod and that is it. Every time he posts an image it makes me jealous that he's making these lush, gorgeous portraits and he's doing it with such a minimal amount of gear. He's one of those guys that when I see his work it makes me just want to toss all my stuff out the window and give up. That is the wonderful thing about photography - everyone's visions and eyeballs are different. No two photographers can create the same work. It makes me appreciate the craft of photography that much more.
Ed took one of my workshops years ago, and we've been keeping in touch since then. Usually it's emails back and forth about how we need to start going out and shooting together just for the sake of shooting. This image was a result of finally getting off of our butts and doing something about it. Ed had this idea, and I was all for being in front of his camera. I'm not a big fan of putting myself in front of cameras for portraits - my self confidence isn't very good, but there was no way I was going to turn down the chance to have a portrait taken of me by Edward. No damn way would I let it pass me by.
We ended up stopping at a section of railroad in Amherst NH. We were running late to the destination he had in mind and we were loosing light. Then we saw a pull off next to some tracks and we went for it. I didn't want to get in Ed's way of how he makes images, but he did want me to bring a speedlight with me because he had this idea of me peering into this metal box he had. Still his idea, so I was all for it. He put his camera on his tripod, told me what to do, took a few test shots, and, BAM!, he had it.
He took a few different poses and a few different ideas. The first involved some smoke bombs he brought with him:
He felt he was getting there, but not yet. After a few more tweaks, he got the shot. I was ecstatic simply looking at the back of his camera. It was one of those instances where the second he saw the image on the back of the camera, that was it. No further shooting needed. He nailed it. I knew exactly what he was feeling because I've had that same feeling on just about every shoot I do. That moment when everything aligns and the definitive shot is sitting there in front of you. The shot.
Ed is also a Hasselblad shooter, so he brought his Hasselblad and I brought mine and we tried mixing it into the shooting as props.
Of course I had to integrate my Holdfast MoneyMaker strap into some of these.
I really love hanging around with Edward. He's very calm and he sees things with a very easy-going nature. Where I turn into a ball of nervousness and anxiety during shoots, Ed always had a calm demeanor. I love that. I love that he uses photography as his method of expression. He has a day job, but he photographs to keep his mind active and to work out problems he might be going through. It's beautiful.
I love this quote he has on his Flickr page bio:
"Photography is not about gear. It's not a contest to see who can buy the most lenses or the most expensive camera. For me, photography is about being creative with the gear you have. And more importantly, photography is suppose to be fun. The day I stop having fun making photos is the day I throw my camera in my wood stove. That will never happen. Photography is my medicine to keep me sane."
Ed has given me a file of the top portrait, and I'm hoping to make a large print on metal soon so I can hang it at home. It's such a beautiful, illustrative, story-driven image. A nod to yesteryear. The olden days. I love history, and I love creating images that might have history to them. This perfectly fits that, and it's a really generous portrait by Edward.
Please visit his Flickr page. He updates regularly. His work is amazing. I hope to work more with him in the coming days.