Posts Tagged ‘Boston’

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A Very Special Client

Monday, September 10th, 2012

Back in 2010 I was hired to shoot an executive portrait. It was a very standard assignment, but it was for a very special client: my dad.

Well, actually, my dad was the subject, but he wasn’t the client. My dad had recently retired from his position as president of Maine Medical Center, a large hospital in Portland, Maine, and the hospital was commissioning a portrait of him to hang in its Board room, along with those of all of the other past presidents. We had quite a bit of flexibility in terms of the setup of the shot; the only real requirements were that the final portrait be black and white and three-quarter length (to conform to the convention that had been in place for over a hundred years!). We talked about things that I talk about when I’m shooting any portrait (what ideas we wanted the image to convey, how to achieve them with wardrobe, location, framing, lighting, etc., shooting in a location where the subject is comfortable and relaxed, etc.). Ultimately we ended up settling on my parents’ home just outside of Portland as our location, and on the day of I drove up from Boston and did the shoot. Obviously it was a ton of fun shooting with my dad as my subject, and I was pretty happy with the final image.

Fast forward two years, and a couple of weeks ago I got a phone call from a designer saying that Maine Medical Center was putting together a tabletop history of the hospital, and wanted to use the image I shot of my dad in the book. Interestingly, the designer said that she wanted to use a color version of the (as-delivered black and white!) image (what they would have done if I had shot the image on black and white film I’m not sure). Thankfully, I had shot the image digitally and converted it to black and white after the fact, and had kept not only the final file but also the original, color RAW file (let this be a lesson kiddos, ALWAYS KEEP YOUR ORIGINALS!!!).

I did some editing to get the color version prepared for printing and sent it off to the client, and now I’m looking forward to seeing my dad in a book in a picture that I made.

Dad. ©2010 Chris Conti Photography

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First Look – Kayak & Canoe Photo Shoot

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

A month or two ago I started working to set up a photo shoot focusing on recreational water sports like kayaking and canoeing. Anyone who knows me knows that there are very few recreational sports I don’t enjoy, and these types of outdoor activities are important parts of state & local tourism marketing and advertising campaigns in the Northeast, not to mention the advertising needs of outdoor equipment retailers like Eastern Mountain Sports, L.L. Bean and REI.

Anyone who has set up a shoot of this sort knows that between finding and booking models, scouting appropriate locations, nailing down assistants and negotiating contracts & coordinating schedules with all of the parties, setting up this kind of shoot is a fair amount of work. But good things don’t come easy, and all of the work was worth it. Last Sunday the crew and talent assembled at the chosen location on a river just outside of Boston and had a great day of shooting.

A full collection of images from the day will be posted here tomorrow, but here is one sneak peek.

Check back tomorrow for the full collection of images and the story behind the shoot.

Kayak & Canoe First Look - ©Chris Conti Photography

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Hurricane Irene As Seen From Space

Friday, August 26th, 2011

The East Coast is starting to flip out about Hurricane Irene (I just read that New Jersey is ordering gambling halted in Atlantic City… the horror!) and since it looks like Irene has Boston in its sights, it looks like I’m going to be spending my Saturday getting a generator and moving things out of my basement in case it floods. In the mean time though, before it gets here, check out this image NASA created from one of its GOES geosynchronous orbit satellites:

Image courtesy of NASA

And here’s a closeup of the U.S. showing the storm:

Image courtesy of NASA

NASA is wonderful for this kind of stuff. I’m sure two days from now I’m going to be much less of a fan, but from 22,000 miles up, the storm is beautiful!

This is just more proof of what I’ve always thought – anything can be beautiful if you look at it in the right way. :-)

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Back to a Favorite Spot

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

We’ve all got favorite places; places that for whatever reason we keep coming back to, whether it’s because they’re pretty, they’re comfortable, there are good people there who we enjoy spending time with, whatever.

The weather has been beautiful in Boston for the last couple of days (with the exception of that earthquake yesterday! Does that count as weather?), and I had some free time last night so I decided to go back to one of my favorite places in Boston for shooting at night.

The Longfellow Bridge connects Cambridge and Boston across the Charles river, and looks out on the part of the river known as the Sailing Basin, because as the widest, most open part of the river, the MIT, Harvard and other university sailing teams, as well as the public all use it as a great spot for sailing small boats. On any given afternoon there are dozens of sailboats on the water here.

This spot on the bridge is a favorite of mine because in addition to the great view of the river, from this vantage point there is also a great view of the Prudential building and the Hancock Tower, Boston’s two tallest skyscrapers, and the bridge faces southwest, meaning it is wonderful for shooting landscape photos at dusk.

"Charles River Basin": Canon 5D Mark II, Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM @ f/8, 17mm, 3.2 sec., ISO 160. ©Chris Conti Photography

For this image, because I knew I wanted both the natural light in the sky as well as the artificial lights inside the buildings to be visible with a nice balance between the two, it was important to wait for just the right light. I knew that would mean in this case that would mean a little bit after sunset, when the sky had dimmed sufficiently to not overpower the artificial lights (sunset photos can be gorgeous, but I’ve found that often the best light is actually after sunset, such as here). With the camera on the tripod and using a wide-angle lens (my trusty Canon 5D Mark II with the superb EF 17-40mm f/4L lens), I stopped the lens down to f/8 because shutter speed wasn’t going to be an issue (thank you, tripod) and I wanted the little bit of extra sharpness that comes with a smaller aperture. Using a remote cable release to fire the camera to avoid shake I fired a few frames to test exposure (the camera’s internal light meter here is a decent starting point but only a starting point) and play with a few different angles. Since I wasn’t using a tilt/shift lens and the camera needed to be angled up to get the framing I wanted, I had to do a bit of digital alteration in post (Photoshop’s “Lens Correction” function) to remove the distortion and make the buildings straight.

The result is what I think is a nice image, somewhat different than ones I’ve taken here before. It is by no means perfect though (if in fact an image can ever be), so I’m sure that I’ll be back to this spot again some time.

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Somerville Fireworks (& The Boston Globe)

Friday, July 1st, 2011

So I walked over to my town’s local fireworks display last night (right around the corner from my house), and just for fun, I carried along a camera and tripod (of course… it’s just who I am). It was crazy – a much bigger production than I’d assumed: all of the streets were blocked off, there were thousands of people in the streets, food trucks, etc etc.:

The crowd for the Somerville fireworks display: iPhone photo ©Chris Conti Photography

No sooner than I had set up my tripod I was approached by a woman who introduced herself as writer for the Boston Globe, asking me who I was there shooting for (in other words, if I worked for another news organization). When I replied that I’m a self-employed photographer and was just there shooting photos for my own amusement, she asked if she could use one of my photos for her Globe article – apparently the Globe “didn’t have budget” to send one of their own photographers to cover the event.

Everyone knows that times are very tough for print media organizations – since everyone is getting their news online, newspapers’ subscriber bases are evaporating and with them go the newspapers’ revenue, which has resulted in terrible staff cuts at just about every paper. But it is a sad state of affairs indeed when a leading regional newspaper “doesn’t have budget” to pay a photojournalist to cover an event on which they plan to publish a story, and this was an example of why I am very, very glad that I am not a photojournalist.

In any case, I was there shooting photos anyway, and since they’d already decided they weren’t going to pay for photography of the event (that much was clear) I told the writer that provided I was given proper credit for the photo, I’d give the Globe one to run with their story*. The writer took my email address, and several hours later via email I sent her a few photos I captured from the evening.

For the Globe’s article, they picked one of the photos I sent, and the writer actually quoted me as well (which I didn’t know she was going to do! If I’d known I was going to be quoted, I’d have paid attention to my grammar!). The article can be seen here:

Here are a few of the photos I shot that night (it really was a great display, and as Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone was sure to point out, the fireworks didn’t cost taxpayers a dime, since they were funded in full through private donations).

Fireworks, Somerville Massachusetts: Canon 5D Mark II, Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM @ f/16, 17mm, 30 sec., ISO 100. ©Chris Conti Photography

Fireworks, Somerville Massachusetts: Canon 5D Mark II, Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM @ f/16, 17mm, 30 sec., ISO 100. ©Chris Conti Photography

Fireworks, Somerville Massachusetts: Canon 5D Mark II, Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM @ f/16, 17mm, 30 sec., ISO 100. ©Chris Conti Photography

*: I understand this issue may anger some professionals in the industry who rely on paying editorial work. The debate about shooting for pay vs. shooting solely for a credit is not an insignificant one, and it is truly embarrassing for the Globe  that they have cut back so dramatically on paying editorial work that they didn’t send a staff photographer or editorial freelancer to shoot something that they thought was important enough to warrant a story. It is a bad time to be an editorial photographer or photojournalist indeed.

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