Wednesday, September 10, 2014

let's talk about Bob and Calla's photo shoots.

You almost certainly know this about me already, but I’d better restate just to be sure: I love to take pictures. Ever since I took my first disposable camera on a trip to Denver when I was eleven, I am rarely found without a camera. (True story: throughout high school, I carried at least one disposable camera in my pencil bag at all times. Camera phones were MADE for people like me.)

And what does every photographer need? A willing subject. My friends were often said subjects, but one friend was more willing than others – and that friend was Bob.
Bob and I became good friends in spring 2003 when we played Jesus and Satan (respectively) during church services in Lent. Bob never seemed to mind my incessant picture-taking: while some friends would eventually begin to moan and groan, Bob was ready for his close-up.

I told you about how Bob took my clarinet senior pictures – that, my friends, was only the beginning. I graduated in 2005, and Bob and I had a relatively carefree summer ahead of us.
In between our part-time jobs and our movie project (remember that?), Bob and I spent our time taking pictures of each other – most of the time they were goofy, but once in a while, one of us would take a picture of the other that actually looked good… dare I say great?
The one that really set us down the portraiture path was a picture I had taken of Bob in Hillcrest Park in Brookings. 
He liked it so well that it became one of his senior pictures – and we realized that since both of us were so good looking (and a touch narcissistic, yes?) and had an eye for backgrounds and poses, why not make the most of it? The possibilities in the world of amateur portraiture were simply endless.

Our photo shoots started out around my parents’ house – easier access for wardrobe changes, plus there were plenty of country-fied backgrounds that would contrast perfectly with our fancy clothing.
Like old grain bins.
 Bob was the stylist, and he chose the wardrobe – and would often be in charge of hair as well. The wardrobe covered several decades, from my grandma’s 1950s prom dress... my mom's 70s spring wardrobe... a torn up 80s bridesmaid's gown...
Yes, I'm on my parents' roof. garments that Bob himself made.
Again with the roof.
The longer we did our photoshoots, the braver we got. It didn’t take long for us to use up all the backgrounds at my parents’ house, so we’d take our photos at the parks in Brookings...

From McCrory to Pioneer to Hillcrest, no park was safe.

...or around the Terry Redlin Center in Watertown.
People were staring.
The best photos were invariably the ones we took at abandoned buildings. Growing up in rural South Dakota has its perks, and one of them was the proximity to picturesque uninhabited houses. It was in one of these houses that we planned to film our movie, but the abandoned house next door to that one became a prime photography location.

When it came to our photo shoots, Bob and I were fearless. We tramped through long grass, inspecting each other for ticks at the end of the shoot. We gingerly stepped around dead raccoons and cowpies. We army-crawled through barbed wire and electric fences – and, when necessary, fled from angry livestock (and once from a pair of gigantic turkey vultures). Anything for the sake of our art.

Bob printed a few of these for his senior pictures, but on the whole, our photoshoots had no real purpose. It was something fun (and cheap!) for us to do, and we loved thinking of ourselves as artsy portrait photographers. Bob and I spent two whole summers (and at least a couple of college breaks) doing our photo shoots, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

(Because you couldn’t possibly have seen enough fancy pictures of Bob and me, here are a few more for the road…)

The pink prom dress was a clear favorite.

We had our pouty model faces down pat.

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