Thursday, February 10, 2011

bVo! (Florida Mini-Vacation Part 2 of 4)

So, after having finished up the shots I did of Rostick in my previous post I headed back to my friend bVo's place -- bVo stands for Bryan Voliton for those of you who are not lucky enough to know him. bVo is one of the most talented designers I have ever met -- and just a genuinely good guy with a great outlook on life. I met Bryan when I started the photography program at The Creative Circus in 2001; he was a year ahead of me in the design program. He is one of those students that stood out to me. He seemed to be a step above some of the other designers there talent wise -- and he was just a cool guy.

At times, while in school, I would get really frustrated. Sometimes I would get frustrated about being broke  -- and worry about how to pay for everything that went along with going to school there. Sometimes I would get frustrated because I didn't feel like my work was good enough, or because I didn't do as well as I knew I could have on a assignment. Other times I would get frustrated because I felt that I had given an assignment my absolute best; yet, my instructor would tear me apart for it not being good enough, and tell me to go make it better. Looking back, I'm glad they did, because; it wasn't about making the shot better, it was about making me better. And it did.

Needless to say, being critiqued not just on my work, but who I was as a person wore thin on my nerves at times.

Well, bVo is one of those guys who would always be up at the school working really late, like me. We would talk about our frustrations, but he always had such a positive view on things. He would offer  insight that always made me feel better, but it wasn't like he was saying any of it just to make me feel better. He just genuinely had a good, positive outlook on life.

To this day, this is a favorite portrait of mine. It's of bVo, and I took it when
I was still in school. Through it, I was trying to show the frustration he had with the design job he had at the time. Blue is his favorite color. The rubber ducky tie is just him, and the yellow paint dumped on his head shows the frustration that he was dealing with as a designer. At first, he was a little freaked about the paint getting in his nose and mouth. Then, true to his nature, he just decided to cut loose and have fun with the shoot. This is my favorite from the many great shots that I got of him that day.

Back to my ride from Rostick's studio to Bryan's place. Well, that ride consisted of a difficult phone call that no guy ever wants to deal with -- yeah -- the kind where you have a girl crying uncontrollably on the other end of the line for no understandable reason. Well, when I got to Bryan's place we went out for a beer, I certainly needed one after that call. As always, bVo managed to give me great insight and just made me feel better.

So, after we got back to his place I decided that I wanted to do a portrait of him in front of one of his paintings -- a design that he uses somewhat as a logo or signature these days. He paints it on everything from canvases, to journals, to clipboards. My goal was just to get a great business-style portrait for him to use in his marketing and self-promotion if he liked. I figured that was the least I could do to help him out with his new venture as a freelance designer.  This was that one shot that I was really looking to get:

This is the shot that I really set out to get, but all the shots that lead up to it was a nice bonus. I got so many good ones of him that I couldn't take the time to process them all. It took 109 exposures for me to get to this one. I knew I had what I wanted as soon as I hit the shutter button. Could have I done it quicker? Possibly, but I was just having fun with it. I wasn't in any rush, and it's too often that you have to do just that rush on a actual job -- rush.

I am very happy with it, but it took me getting through all the other shots I did to get this one; to find that combination of composition and expression that I was looking for. All the other shots leading up to this one are the most fun; and those who really know Bryan will probably agree that they capture so much more of who he actually is, we were just goofing off and having fun with it. It shows:

Click on each shot to view it larger if you like.

Love this one.

Another personal favorite.

He's trying to wipe the smile of his face here & put on his puppy dog eyes.

And here they are, the puppy dog eyes. "Please hire me, I promise to do a good job Mister."

This is the bVo you will have to deal with if you don't pay on time.

bVo: I think he has been moonlighting as a pimp since birth.

So, as you can see, the first black and white shot I presented above works best as a straight-forward business portrait, but a lot of the shots that led up to it have soooo much more character. All those initial shots allowed him to loosen up and just be himself, which is what I wanted, but you still see it in the final business shot that I was going for.

I guess the point behind all this is something that I was trying to express to my students in class the other night. Enjoy photography. Use it as an escape to life, which is much easier to do when you aren't depending on it to make your living. It can be so relaxing just shooting for fun. And, shoot a lot. Don't just take a few shots and think, "that's good enough."  Good is the enemy of great. Aspire to make your work great -- sometimes just taking those few extra shots can be the difference between good and great when you are photographing people.

I guess I also should say how lucky I feel to know people like Bryan. It's good to surround yourself with people like him. People who are positive, talented, ambitious, intelligent, and passionate about what they do, because all of those qualities are contagious.

If you have read this far, thank you for reading what I have to say. Sharing the stories and the thought process behind my portraits can sometimes be just as important as the portraits themselves. The portraits I have posted here of Bryan give those that don't already know him an idea of who he is as a person, but what I have written here affirms it.

Thank you for being you bVo.


Anonymous said...

Great read, Keith...looking forward to your creative output in 2011.

Keith Taylor Photography said...

Thank you! I hope to produce and do great stuff this year.