One of the things that I struggle with in photography (and there are many) is talking to random strangers and asking if I may take their photo. A while back I had an idea to set up a large American Flag at a community celebration and ask strangers if I could take a photo of them in front of it, completely free, and offering them a copy of the image. What kind of reactions would I get? How nervous would I be, or get? What if they said no? Would they yell at me or make a scene? Would I get punched in the face?
This past weekend was Monticello’s “Homecoming” which is a four-day celebration a lot like the 4th of July, but the weekend after. Beer tent, softball tournament, mud volleyball, parade, cheese curds, hot dogs, fireworks, live music, and all the rest. I decided it was time to give this idea a whirl, and I am elated to tell you that I did not get punched. In fact, the most menacing individuals I asked if I could photograph turned out to be some of the nicest.
Of course there were rejections. The most common one was that people just don’t like how they look in pictures. One of them I thought was particularly funny. A father was running around after his son who was around one year old, maybe a little older. I asked him if he would let me take a picture of him holding his son by the flag, and I’d give him a free copy. He said, “No thanks, we’ve already got tons of pictures”.
I’ll let that sink in for a few minutes for you.
Anyway, the project was a success, and I plan on doing more of it when I’m able to. I learned a lot, and am stepping out of my shell a little bit in the process… which is a good thing. With any luck it’ll get easier as well.
On the technical side, I had one of my AlienBee AB1600 lights setup with a big softbox. The sun was setting and I decided to get a second AB1600 and softbox setup, and that worked much better. I was using my Canon 7D with 35mm f/1.4L lens, firing the AB1600s with PocketWizards. I still have a lot of lighting to work on as well, but I think the images turned out well.
Why the name of the project? Why Apollo? I’ve always loved the US Space Program, and being that this project is based around the American Flag, it made sense.
To view all the images in the project so far, please visit my website. Here is a direct link.
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