Recently, my wife and I scheduled a photo session with Tony, a friend of ours. Initially we planned on doing a kitchen set with food preparation images, since Tony was a chef years ago. We arrived, bags and cases full of lights, umbrellas, cameras and meters, eager and ready to get some great food shots. We had been discussing the possibilities of peppers and other vegetables that had been recently harvested from his backyard garden. Beautiful colorful food, clean prep shots, chopping and dicing, the potential was exciting.
Barely awake, Tony invited us in. It was morning and there was a slight chill in the house. We got to the kitchen and set down our equipment as Tony quickly passed out steaming hot cups of rich coffee.
“Let me get a cup down, and I’ll get a fire going to warm up the place.” We moved to the living room, Tony in front of the fireplace, slowly sipping coffee and clearing the pit. The conversation was jovial, good friends catching up on the past week’s events. This was a shoot for our stock portfolios and we set aside the entire day for the visit. We sipped at our coffee over the next half hour, then Tony grabbed his boots, jacket and gloves, and went outside to grab some wood. He came back, arms full, and started stacking them into the fireplace. Then he grabbed a small hatchet and split off a few pieces for kindling. As the fire started to spread, he sat back on the hearth and sighed, contented. I cannot remember what our conversation had been about, but looking up from my steaming mug, I knew there would be no food in the pictures we shot today.
“What’s up?” Tony looked confused as I went to the kitchen for my equipment and started setting up my light stand. My wife giggled and said, “I think he’s inspired! Just keep talking and pretend he’s not here.” I grinned as I pulled the lens cover off of my camera.
Our cups were emptied and filled several times, the conversation continued as the fire burned brightly. Morning faded to afternoon as I held my camera and snapped off shot after shot. We all had a great visit and the images that were created captured moments in time that are very real. The reflected emotions and thought in a man’s face carry far more impact than the commercial-style session we had planned.