“This S*&$ Is Cool”
You might remeber, but about a year ago, I got the chance to work with David Burnett.
That was such a great experience. Not only getting the chance to watch him work, but to sit down and have dinner with him and to get to know him a little.
Well, a month ago, I had My Day With David, Part II.
It was the similar circumstance – big company meeting that we wanted him to cover from a photojournalistic standpoint.
In addition, though, because we had a little bit more time, I also wanted David to some portraits of our CEO – the type we started to call “legacy photos”. Not your average, general headshot, but the type of portraits what we would, down the line, consider iconic. And since we had some time to set this, David and I discussed him using his Speed Graphic film camera to shoot these.
And that’s exactly the opportunity we got. Thanks to some beautiful light in an otherwise unbeautiful conference room, David was able to work his magic.
We all know the importance of light in fantatic photography. Beautiful light makes the job so much easier. Even for a guy wielding a little Canon S100, beautiful light can help make a beutiful portrait. Here’s my portrait of David.
I know, right?
Like last year, it was great working with him, and learning from him. His Speed Graphic was a source of perpetual conversation with whomever saw it, including the executive we were shooting. There’s so much involved in this camera – changing the film sheet, focusing, cocking shutter, pressing the shutter….then quickly doing it again.
This whole time, you have to keep you subject engaged. It would be easy to lose them, but after so many years, David is a master at doing all this while keeping the conversation going.
In addition to his Speed Graphc, David shot with his Canon 5D with Tilt-Shift lenses as well as his trusty Leicas. All three of the cameras produced fantastic images. Great cameras and lenses, of course. But it all came back to the light.
One of the things I’ll remember most about these days with David was on Day Two. His tripod broke so we were discussing alternatives. I told him there’s a camera shop in New Brunswick, George Street Camera, so let’s take a walk up there and see if they have something he can use.
Of course, a tripod is intergral part of his gear, but he had was looking for a special kind. Didn’t want it to be too big or too heavy.
So we go to the camera store. It was like I was taking Picasso to buy a new paintbrush. I don’t think the young guys working at the story knew who they were talking too. Quite funny to watch, but David was his usual sweet self. Luckily, he found one to do the job (though I was ready to give one of the two I had in my truck!)
Dinner that night was great too. Chatting about all sorts of things, photography and not, over a bottle of red and some good steaks.
During the event, David was a workhorse. He knew where to be, what shots to get. To say he knows how to cover an event is an understatement.
“This shit is cool.”
David said that as we were scouting around campus, looking for the light. He found it in one particular instance, had me stand in to shoot some frames to check it out (another perk of my job: I stood in for the executive so many times for David, my “headshot portfolio” is chock full of cool ones courtesy of David.)
One of the happy surprises of the event came a few days later. To my office came an oversized cardboard flat, the kind that would hold a big print. Sure enough, David had one made for me, the shot that was taken when he uttered the quote above. It’s a shot of me, with some fantatic light and shadow action going on. Not sure what I’ll do with a print of me, but it’s pretty damn nice to have signed David Burnett…
David’s in Australia now, opening a show at the Australian Center for Photography.He and I have been in touch over the past few weeks, disucssing what images from the Speed Graphic we should get made into 11×14 prints with the edges showing for our CEO.
Again, legacy-type prints.
I think we got some good ones, that’s to a great photographer and some beautiful light.
© Mark V. Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | All Rights Reserved 2013