A couple of years ago, I was posting much on Flickr. I was member of multiple groups, throwing photos in to get attention and views and comments. Eventually I sort of stop caring about that aspect of photography. Of course, I do photography because I know someone is watching somewhere but I have learnt to appreciate the silent crowd as much as the over the hedge commentator who’s doing it just in hope to get comments in return. So I stopped posting on Flickr. I still have my account there simply because some of my early blog post where sourcing their photos from there in order to save space on the few MB free webspace I had on Blogger. When I left Flickr, I walked away from a group I was spending a lot of time in because of the nature of the group and the local aspect of it; Montreal Strobist.
I moved to other platforms such as jpgmag, 500px, and yes, the evil Facebook. It is on that later that I realized Montreal Strobist was still alive when I noticed an organized upcoming gathering one of my friends was attending to. I registered sent out a message asking if any model would be willing to play the game. I wasn’t too sure what to expect given the location was set for the Old Montreal. I try to avoid that location now because I shot there a lot before and in the summer well, it is to tourists what honey is to flies.
I had a shoot before that one where I had to carry much of my gears. Given that we would now be walking around the city, there was no way I would bring all that so I put together the smallest possible kit I could: 2 hotshoe flashes, 1 stand, 1 Apollo 28, the camera bag. The idea was to be able to carry everything in 2 bags. That was a smart choice given it was 35 degrees out there.
We met in a restaurant at 2pm and headed to the side street. It was my 1st time meeting Vanessa, a young 17 year old experienced model. The shoot started a bit slow. The heat was really getting to me. My t-shirt already felt drenched from the morning shoot (note to self: bring more than 1 t-shirt next time). We started off against a wall. Not so original but that was a start. Everyone had to get acquainted and get to know each other’s. It did not take very long for me to realize Vanessa was very serious about modeling. Great, I am too about photography! Then things got into gears. We ditched the stone wall and moved into the middle of the closed street. We were getting some nice shots there but I could not get over the green doors next to us. When we had gotten on the street, the light was not so great but as the afternoon was moving forward, the light shifted a bit. It might have been a reflection coming from across the street but all the sudden, one of the door lit up. We moved in quickly before someone else grabbed it. The light had that romantic late summer afternoon feel to it. With Vanessa’s mother help to fight the infrequent gulch of wind, I sat on the ground to be slightly below eye level and fired away.
Eventually, it was time to move to another location. While most of the participants packed their bags to have a more comfortable commute, I grabbed everything as-is. I had noticed these large steel doors across the street and I wasn’t going to miss out on them. I went bare bulb for a moment and then moved the light behind Vanessa to backlit her. It looked as her blond hair was just catching on fire! I was lucky because the sun was bouncing against the pale building wall on the other side of the street, filling Vanessa’s face so I would not need to pull out my backup flash.
While catching on to the rest of the group, we stopped by the Notre-Dame Basilica which was my usual playground years ago when doing night photography. The light hitting the building was right. Again, 1 bare bulb flash slightly on my right to fill Vanessa. Vanessa made the rest happen. We eventually caught up to the rest of the group in another closed street. The light was getting lower and bouncing on the buildings around us and turning really soft. The flash did not need to work very hard to fill the few undesirable shadows.
After a while, my parking meter was calling me. I was about to run out of time so we called it the day. Vanessa stayed with the group for a few more shots. I had the equivalent of 3 photoshoots in me but felt like a day well spent. I met a few people I have never met before, got to work with Vanessa and her mother and got great images in camera. The experience made me realize that has we move forward, we have a tendency to stack layers of complication making photoshoots more laborious than they should be. All I used that day was a hotshoe flast, a stand, a softbox and 1 camera with a fixed 85mm. Looking at what I had I wonder why do we do complicated?