A photo project every photographer should do.

I've been wanting to do this project for some time, but my upcoming presentation for Skip's Summer School next week in Las Vegas gave me the impetus to do it sooner, rather than later. My presentation will be called, "The Power of the Project", and I'll talk about how taking on photography projects - in many different capacities, can alter your course as a professional significantly. And by alter, I mean in a good way! The presentation will illuminate how projects - from simple daily photo challenges, to technical experimentation projects, to significant personal growth quests, can feed your professional growth and overall success.


One of the projects I'm going to be talking about is this "Lighting in a Day" project we did. Essentially, I got together with another photographer, my buddy Benjamin Edwards, and a couple of friends for models. Our goal was to take a small selection of lighting accessories we had and come up with as many different looks as possible - using the tools to get great lighting in just about any existing situation. We worked in full sun, open shade, partial sun, indoors near windows and indoors in the dark. We challenged ourselves to come up with as many different looks as possible and to find ways to create beautiful light no matter what we had to work with. We got to play with accessories and even lenses we had, but hadn't used much (including a Nikon 85mm f2.8 PC lens). We found new ways to use things we had, but had previously put to use only one way. 


In my presentation, I'll be showing the images we made, and all the setup photos that show exactly how we lit the scenes and what equipment was used. It was a great, although exhausting, day and we both came away with new ideas to use at our next paid session. Ben and I vowed that we should do this every month!


This shot below was from an outside, full-sun location where we wanted to create something dramatic while dealing with the difficult direct sunlight. Ben hooked up his Alien Bee moonlight to a beauty dish and powered it with a portable battery pack. I set the 85mm f2.8 PC lens to f22 and 1/250 sec at ISO 200. This darkened the existing light enough to create more of an evening, dramatic background. The alien bee was on full power to give f22 with the beauty dish at about 4 ft. from the subject.


With this type of directional lighting, it's important to keep the direction of the light above and at the correct angle to the subjects face to avoid unattractive shadows. For this reason, Ben put the light on a monopod so he could move it as the model moved her face in different directions.


the Laying Down Game

It's official. The JustUs Team has setup www.LayingDownGame.net

Jed & Vicki Taufer introduced me to this crazy idea when we were out to dinner in NYC for the PPE convention. The concept is simple: lay down, face down, hands to the side, stiff as a board, in unusual places...well anywhere really. Then take a photo of yourself. It's hard to describe why this is so funny. It's just so out of context that it makes me cry laughing whenever we do this. This first image here was taken at a fancy pants restaurant called Tao in NYC and we were promptly asked to leave the restaurant after the photo was taken. Fortunately, we had finished our dinner! We laughed all the way to the front door and then knew we had to see where else we could get kicked out of...the Apple Store? Hotel lobbies? Ice Cream parlors? The middle of the busy street? A crowded night club? You'll have to look at the gallery to see what else we got in to.

From a photographers point of view, the photos may not immediately be seen as "artistic"...but they elicit emotion, some conflicted. It makes you think outside the box and once you start doing it, you begin to look at the world around you in a different way. I posed this challenge to one of my workshop groups (that I taught with Vicki & Jed in Vermont). The class loved it and turned in some crazy, and creative images! You'll see those in there too. It really emphasizes the importance of having a project, no matter how obscure, to stimulate your visual thinking and creativity.

Please be sure to leave your comments: why do you think this is so funny? Why is it so fun? Do you have a LDG photo to contribute? Send it to us at layingdowngame.net and we'll post it!

Click here to see the gallery of Laying Down Game images!

Laying Down Game in Tao, NYC