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Tatum's Graduation Photos

July 21, 2017
Tatum on steps of Melrose color

On May 25, 2017, I took a break from my Starbucks shift for a little more than an hour to do a graduation shoot for Tatum, a member of the Alpha Phi sorority at Linfield College. I had planned on photographing the entire sorority, but I wasn’t able to get my shift covered soon enough in the day, so another student managed the group photos.

As it turned out, Tatum hadn’t arranged any senior photos, (whaaatttt????), so it was great to have a spontaneous photoshoot that afternoon. In my bag were two film cameras and my digital one, but I wanted to just stick with digital for most of the shoot. However, the camera was dead. I turned it on, but no response. In hindsight, it might not have actually been dead. Lately I’ve been having issues with the camera’s start up time. It will sometimes not respond, and I have to turn it on and off a few times. Strange…

Whatever the case, my two ancient film cameras, from the 70s and 80s, turned out to be more reliable than my Rebel T5 digital camera bought in December of 2015. Insane. I hate cheap garbage cameras.

I was actually kind of glad that we had to shoot film, because it’s less complicated and more fun for me. At first it was kind of stressful, because I was missing shots and nice candid moments. But once the photos came back, I was so happy to see the results. You do miss some shots, but it doesn’t matter. You don’t need every moment; you just need a few good ones.

Tatum color film sorority

We decided to shoot in the shade near some flowers, and at that point I was playing with the reflector, trying to shoot in one hand and reflect with the other. Soon enough I realized it was absurd and just slowing me down, but I tried again on the steps of Melrose. The reflector ended up rolling down the stairs and into the sidewalk, so I just left it folded up for the rest of the shoot.

This photo was an accidental double-exposure. Sometimes the color rolls don't advance all the way. Not sure why. So far it's only been a problem with the color rolls. Anyone know the answer???? I'll get my cameras serviced in the next few months and see if that makes a difference.

tatum color double exposure flowers

Natural light and minimizing distractions…. we shot black and white and color at the same time, rotating cameras. I wanted to finish a roll of black and white left in one camera, so I ended up shooting 1 roll of color, 1 black and white, and then about 6 shots from another BW roll.

We walked around towards the Oak Grove and did some fun shots in the grass. I think next time I do a shoot, I need to spend more time in each particular location. With the flowers, we were still getting comfortable shooting, but the other locations would have benefitted from a little more deliberate shooting on my part. That’s one major advantage of using digital. You can fine-tune and repeat a look until you’re satisfied with the shot, instead of wondering and hoping that you got it right.

lying in the grass post-shoot candid moment walking past Melrose Hall

Incidentally, when I did photos for Charlie later that evening, I ran out of space on my SD card and had to abandon an idea that really excited me.

It’s hard to come up with ideas. Poses, lighting, expressions. Tatum had a few looks she wanted to try, so there wasn’t much pressure on me, but it’s still challenging to know what to do and be confident in that choice. I’m trying to gather collections of photos that I like for inspiration.

I also really need to keep taking more photos and hopefully get a job as an assistant somewhere.

I have the negatives from our shoot, and I’m going to develop some in the darkroom eventually. What's crazy is that places like Walgreens cost as much as PhotoVision, but they discard your negatives, and the quality is definitely sub-par. I can't believe it. Never get your film developed by idiots that throw away your artwork. What a terrible, horrible practice. I'm still baffled by the idea of it.

I’ll make a new post when I get around to developing them myself. Hopefully it's very soon! I’d like to experiment with masking and blurring the background. I’ll have to stencil the background and leave a cutout for her body, then do two separate exposures on the paper. Hopefully, it works out so that I can deliberately blur the rest of the photo and then refocus for Tatum’s exposure.

For now, playing with the files in Photoshop is an option, but I don’t think it’s necessary :)

playing with tassel making silly face
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