How did I get roped into this?
During lunch with photographer Scott Jarvie he just sort of dropped into casual conversation that he was working on an event he billed as the "SECRET UNTIL IT's ANNOUNCED."
As he was telling me about it I kind of drifted off into how difficult it sounded to organize, let alone participate in. I remember blithely thinking that nobody could actually pull creating and organizing such madness so when he asked if I'd participate I thought there wasn't more than a 50/50 chance I'd go through with it.
That is probably how most people get roped into running a marathon... As it turns out, less than a month later I found myself with an assignment to shoot thirty pictures within ten separate categories in 48-hours.
I vaguely remembered him recommending that I put together a team.... but I can't get any of my friends to agree to a game of "Ultimate Frisbee" let alone a huge project that takes two days.
This is the story of those two days, but first I must say. I couldn't finish it. I ran out of photographic steam. between the editing and the shooting all in 48 hours I couldn't do it anymore... I craved to do my own thing...
This journey was an interesting one and like any good marathon it drove my soul to the edge. I can't wait until he puts on his next one... next time I promise to do more advanced training!
Obviously I'm dealing with an amazing scene, and I knew since other photographers had been there before me there were some amazing images of reflections already—as I thought about it I realized two things that could set any image apart would be lens choice and framing.
With that in mind I opted for my wide-angle lens and I found a spot that would frame the lake from below and above.
The ducks right near the bottom one-third of the image, causing the ripples into the lake, will only be noticed by the keenest of eyes. Providing a visual treat for those that pay enough attention.
The timing was fortuitous, and the scenery magnificent. When the scenery is this fabulous the landscape category kind of does it's job for me.
For the second shot I found a spot in the lake where I would get the most spacious view of the sky, I shot the landscape high in the center of the frame for a more creative outlook and showed the reflection of the sky against the subtle texture of the lake.
City Scape Category
The Rules: A city or portion of a city from a distance. There will be a location you can be in to take the picture. You must be pointed toward the city and a portion of the city must be in the picture.
I created a composition of horizontal thirds with the landscape interpreted in a a way that reflected suburbanization for which the found golf ball served as a very obvious metaphor.
I liked showing how the clutter of a city shows up in our landscapes beyond the edge of the city just over the hill.
I found this golf ball while exploring for places to shoot and chose to make it the subject of my landscape scene with perfectly golden light kissing the grass behind. I chose to expose for the shadow allowing the bright sunset to wash out the sky.
For this image I liked how the massive foreground and background made this city-scape look almost insignificant, which I thought might show one the defining characteristics of the Utah city-scapes quite well... which is no matter how high we build the city these mountains are still going to soar over us.
Street Photography Category
I shot this on the steps of the capital with a wide angle lens. The sun was rising behind and the black birds were swirling in the sky. A single white bird shone in the early morning light. I like how the edifice of the state seems awkward and imposing in it's mission, it's sort of how I feel about politics these days.
Plant Life Category
Night Photography Category
Shooting with Brooke was a last minute decision. I made it up the canyon to silver lake just as she was about to leave and she was kind enough to spend a few minutes making some images in a couple spots. We shot this image just off the wooden path where a patch of these strange branches were started to burst into bloom. I dialed down the aperture to create a sea of color behind her as the backdrop. There was just one branch on the right side of the image that starts to come into focus and I like how it seemed to echo the movement of her hair on the opposite side. Brooke was adorable and easy to shoot. Not the most creative portrait I've ever done but a classic, naturally lit image is what I thought was the best possible idea with the time constraints.
I scheduled a 7pm time slot but I wish I would have scheduled a little later as the sun was still bright. We ventured off the beaten path and shot for just under a half hour. Usually when I shoot a person for the first time the first half hour or so is just getting to know them a little bit, and that's what we did. We explored a few spots in a couple outfits and just made pretty portraits. I really wanted to let my style shine in this category but instead, with the time constraints I feel like my images in what should be my strongest category were a little bit... simple. But I still like them! While 30 minutes was enough to get a good shot I found myself wanting to shoot a little bit more with both of the girls.
Product / Commercial
Unfortunately I just didn't get to this category. It takes so much energy to get a fantastic product shot it's absurd. And since I saved this category for last (mainly because I forgot to put the products in my car for the shooting adventures) I just didn't have it in me to pull it off at the last minute. I could still do it, but it would be outside the rules.
I put these two selfies in as a pair. When I arrived at Silverlake and hiked around to the back at the base of the mountain I was surprised to find a bunch of snow, in June. I couldn't help but take a picture of my very inappropriate choice of footwear for the location.
Feedback from the shoot
1. How often you see another group at your location.
I ran into Scott Jarvie at three locations, Grant was with him at two of them, and then the Squaw Peak location up Provo Canyon I ran into four or five other teams.
2. How Long you Spend at each location
Besides Squaw Peak I probably spent less than an hour at each location, since there were so many teams at Squaw Peak I spent more time there.
3. How much time you spend editing?
I spent a couple hours narrowing down and then retouching images.
4. Driving Time
Way too long, it was just over four hours when all send and done.
5. How many pictures did you take.
I shot just over 1500 images, which was admittedly excessive.
6. What ways would you or could you cheat, which were the rules you were most inclined to break?
The night time rules (to shoot in a separate location) just wasn't followed mainly because I didn't want to go to a new spot. I think the less rules the better because thinking about rules instead of the photography itself was way, way too much to think about.
7. What your strategy is?
My strategy was time and effort management. Since I didn't know the judging rules or criteria I was just sort of doing my best to creatively fulfill the requirements. I think the strategies will morph more fully around a fully disclosed judging process.
8. How can we make this event more challenging?
Less time, less driving and more photography.
9. Were the location options too big or too small?
There was a good number of them, I would say if anything they were spaced too far away.
10. What was the hardest part of the event?
I would say planning, had I planned better I would have achieved greater success.
11. What else would you call it?
Hmmmm... goood question.
12. What Hashtag?
13. What made this event click the most for you?
I liked the social competition aspect a lot. I really think the event would thrive if it was more closely concentrated so the teams had more interactions.
14. What motivated you the most to be a part of the trial?
Mainly because Scott Jarvie seems to do cool things and I didn't want to miss out.
15. What was the hardest part of doing this trial competition?
Time and creative investment. It was exhausting.
How does the photography contest sound to YOU?
These are just words in an empty room without your comments... please leave one!
Photographer Jake Garn