Sunday, August 5, 2007

Mentor Meeting

Met with my mentor Frank Ockenfels. I discovered the amazing, talented, creative, renagade, risk taker Frank in Santa Fe while taking the alternative process work shop after my residency. On the evening of the fourth of July we attended a slide show where three very talented photographers/teachers presented their work. I was somewhat dissapointed that we did not get to see fireworks, however after seeing Frank's work I realized I had seen something more visually stunning than any plain old fireworks ever could be. It was, in a word...amazing. To say he photographs celebrites is an understatement. He has shot more famous film and music superstars than I have ever seen. But it was not the celebrity line up that impressed me, it was Frank's superb lighting, and uncanny connection with his subjects that knocked me out. I marveled at the subtle lighting flecks and flashes in his images, and the interesting uncommon camera choices. It was not the slick Hollywood stuff you are use to looking at. He was teaching a portrait class that week, and his students were running around with box cameras and Home Depot lighting equiptment. On the final Friday night of the workshops, all the groups gather for a slide show and dinner party. Our group agreed the next day that (besides ours) we liked most of Frank's classes photos the best. I decided I would ask him to be my mentor because he got such fantastic results from his students. And since my focus this semester is portrait work I could not imagine a more inspiring portrait person. He agreed and we met at his studio/home in Encino, California.
Scared? Yeahhhhh, I drove the 57 miles up to LA and the entire way I ran through some basic question in my head, oh crap I'm at his house and all I can think of are the words of Wayne and Garth "I'm not worthy"... Ding Dong. Door opens, small adorable boy darts away to his room and I'm all of a sudden sitting in the studio. BREATHE. Within moments I realize we speak the same crazy language. I showed him some of my work and we began talking about my "Nanny" project. The first thing Frank said was, do not limit yourself going into this by choosing one camera. He suggested I take all cameras I use best and do some tests. Pick two willing families and go back a few times and shoot some different styles. I was in full agreement. Below are some bullet points from my first visit:
  • Pick 2 practice families
  • Bring all cameras
  • Look for LIGHT, available, canned, reflected
  • Try shooting digital @ 100 asa, with tripod. saturate!
  • Think about a slow shutter speed to show the movement of the kids
  • Be aware of backgrounds in homes
  • Look for similar chairs or furniture
  • Keep an open mind, be open for anything
  • Don't try to control too much
  • Keep it happy
We set a time to meet again and before I left he gave me a BAG of outdated color tungsten 120 film and told me to go EXPRIMENT!

1 comment:

Neva Austrew said...

Hey Mary,
Your mentor is AMAZING! How very exciting to get to work with him! I just love the Derek Zoolander shots...not the most artsy pictures, but I think they're hilarious!