Creative Urges

By Jon Hillenbrand In Photography, Stories

Look at this…

[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.817262&w=512&h=296&fv=]

There’s creativity, and then there’s blow your mind creativity.  As a photographer among many accountants, I’m often labeled as an artist at my admitedly very corporate job.  And sometimes that feels good because I want to be someone different from the regular pack animal.  I’d prefer to be the black sheep if that meant I’d be more stealthy at night.  But when I see videos like the above example of blow your pants off creativity, I think, “I’m not in that league”.  

Someday I’ll get there.  Maybe if I were free to live the life of an artist, I’d be more creative.  But I’m not into drugs, I have a sense of personal responsibility to my family and my cleanliness, and the day to day fatigue of popping out endless headshot portraits for the company facebook often leaves me feeling like a regular old leaf on a tree in Springtime; doing my part, day to day, to support the tree, just like everyone else.

So I was pretty stoked when I had the opportunity recently to shoot photos of a couple of Chicago Symphony Orchestra players in a symphony hall.  Unfortunately, the couple couldn’t reserve the hall, and as soon as they showed it to me, they said I couldn’t shoot in there because a choir practice was starting. I asked the choir director how much time I had before they were to start and she said 5 minutes. The stained glass windows, the woodwork, the beautiful light, it was all there for the taking.  So after mentally biting the back of my hand shaking my head internally at the disappointment, I moved the couple into the seats up on stage and started setting up a speedlight. I, of course, had left my lighting equipment up in the couple’s office thinking that I’d have time to retrieve it after scouting the location. So I placed my camera bag on a chair, set up a mini stand for my speedlight, used another speedlight in a master/slave orientation and shot away. The husband wasn’t very cooperative and every 60 seconds he would ask if we were done. So I gently but firmly stated that we were going to use every ounce of time they would give us to take these photos. In the end, the shots turned out nice I think.  But they could have been so much more. I went for facial expression and framing over perfect lighting and color balance. I know I can change and fix things in post, so I relied on that a bit. But overall, it was two week’s worth of scheduling circling the drain as I snapped out my frustrations one frame at a time.

I suppose part of any business is living with the consequences of depending on others.  I can’t do it all myself and some permissions can only be obtained by the subjects that I am photographing. Perhaps if I were shooting for Chicago Magazine or GQ, people would take the experience more seriously.  Or if I showed up with a truck of equipment and three assistants and stylists, the seriousness of the experience would set in. I guess that’s something to work toward.

  1. Joanne April 29, 2009

    That’s absolutely something to work toward, Jon. You’ll get there, and we all look forward to the results of your efforts as you work your way to the top. In the meantime, I guess all you can do is enjoy being resourceful and McGuyver-like in your creativity until the GQ studio calls you. 🙂 Keep up the good work!

    Will you be sharing any of the shots from this impromptu shoot, or are they company property?

  2. Jon Hillenbrand April 30, 2009

    All of those shots are at work as I was posting this yesterday, but I had the same thought. I’ll post a shot or two from that session.


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