Sunday, February 15, 2015
Shooting Julie Ann
I took a few pictures of framebuilder Julie Ann Pedalino (isn't that a fantastic name for a bike builder?) at Velo+ the other day and she started inquiring about what I'd charge to come photograph her and her work for an upcoming trade show.
Part of me really wants to turn the camera into a revenue stream. I'm an enthusiastic and ambitious amateur, and I'm a person who tends to let his hobbies kind of run wild. I won't say never, but while I might like to pass myself off as a 'photographer' I'd feel like a poseur. I mean, I have some friends who are the real thing and they could shoot circles around me with a fucking iPhone.
So I told Julie Ann I didn't want to jeopardize my amateur standing, it really just sounded like a fun shoot to do.
Challenging, too. The shop lighting, the clutter of tools in the shop, these are all things that work against good photography. Plus, she wanted some shots of her actually brazing shit. I wasn't wrong when I supposed that the super bright flame of the torch would wreak havoc on the camera's metering, especially for getting a photos where you could actually tell who was wielding the torch.
I shot a few with Julie Ann's camera, a nice Canon 6D. Full frame, and she had some really good glass for it, a 100mm macro and a 24-70mm. None of those shots are here, I didn't think to get the files from her card when giving her the RAW from mine. But I was a fish out of water shooting her Canon. You might think dSLRs all look the same, and they are in the way that Spanish and Portuguese sound a lot alike. If I got anything worthwhile with her camera, it was dumb luck.
There's quite a bit of luck on my own camera, actually. She'd brought some lights, which was helpful though it would have been even better if we could have had enough quality light to turn off the shop's fluorescents, which we didn't.
I struggled a bit with remembering backgrounds, too. You'd think shooting a framebuilder in a workshop where bikes are built and worked on is a natural fit, but actually a bike workshop is cluttered as hell. We kind of figured out a backdrop at the front of the shop with some pallets and the crate walls from Velo+'s coffee roaster, and the brazing area had good brick, but it was still tricky.
The challenge I hadn't anticipated is Julie Ann isn't eager to be the subject of a photograph. I blame TV for this, somewhere along the line she picked up a notion that she wasn't photogenic, which is just silly. (I mean really, don't you want to just put her in your pocket?) I think it's a fairly common delusion, especially in America. It's fucked up, a Victoria's Secret model doesn't actually look anything like what you'll see in the pages of a Victoria's Secret catalog, that's all makeup and post-production Photoshop bullshit. And not to take anything away from those lingerie models, but can they take a few tubes of Reynolds steel and make a four pound bike frame?
The amount of work that goes into these frames is pretty staggering. One of the frames (the one with the copper lightning bolt on the head tube), I saw it Wednesday and the joints looked rough as hell. Four days later, Julie Ann had sanded and buffed them shiny and smooth. A custom hand-built frame is crazy expensive, but when you really think about the work it takes to make it happen, it's a bargain.
Looking at these things, I want to build frames. I could probably learn the skills myself, it would actually fit my general temperament, but it'd have to be a hobby at this point in my life and I need another vastly time-consuming hobby like I need Sam Brownback to be an even bigger embarrassment to the state I live in.