Earlier this month I took a fun trip to St. Louis to celebrate the New Year. I'm fortunate enough to have some great friends there- including the awesome STL based photographer Suzy Gorman. I first met Suzy through one of her clients, right around the time I wanted to focus on making photography my full time career. She was gracious enough to take me under her wing and mentor me. I had what you could call a "natural talent" for taking photographs but I was still very green and had A LOT to learn. Suzy has been an awesome mentor, showing me new techniques to try and challenging me to get out of my comfort zone.
As a shy person, I hesitate sometimes to take a chance with people and just flat out ask them if I can take their picture- something Suzy has absolutely no problem doing. I've always admired how fearless she is with her subjects, which is what allows her to capture them in such a vivid and raw way. Her photographs are instantly recognizable- I swear you can see straight into the subject's soul through her lens (see what I mean by checking out her Instagram page). So, when she offered to show me around St. Louis to take photos, I was more than happy to oblige! I grabbed my brand new 5DS (yay upgrades!) and 85mm prime lens and was ready to go.
We drove through north St. Louis sort of near Suzy's studio to see what we could find. It wasn't long before we encountered a group of guys filming a music video. Without hesitation, Suzy got out and directly asked them if we could take their pictures. They were cool with it, so we started!
One guy was filming the group with his camera, and before they knew it two more cameras showed up to document the making of their music video. I didn't necessarily expect it, but this spontaneous street shoot actually ended up being a great challenge and learning experience to me, because even though I have walked around cities before and taken photos of who/what I observed along the way (i.e. street photography), it was in a completely different environment than this. The only street photography I'd done before this was abroad, capturing people in moments of leisure, instead of being involved in an abundance of action. The guys were dancing and moving around a lot for their video, so it was a valuable lesson for me to be forced to use my brand new gear as quickly as possible, so I didn't miss any of the action and- to my surprise- it was quite a challenge.
There was a lot going on- the music was blasting, the artists and cameraman were moving around a lot, Suzy was there moving around taking photos herself, and I was trying to find my place in all of this- not to mention get some interesting (and ideally sharp) photos of what was happening. I ended up being pretty satisfied with some of the shots that I got, and I'm so grateful that I got to capture such a unique and spontaneous moment in St. Louis! This was a far cry from the kind of shoots that I normally do, which are slower-paced and set up in advance. It was a lot of fun to not worry about equipment for a change, and just capture what was right in front of me.
So what did I learn? I got four major lessons from this experience:
1.) Never be afraid to say who you are, what you do, and why you're here.
2.) It's always beneficial to take risks- even if you don't get what you want out of an experience, you learn to take disappointments with stride and move forward.
3.) Don't paint yourself into a corner. If you love to take photos but professionally you've wound up known for a certain niche (we've all been there), don't limit yourself. Make it a priority to explore your creative freedom.
4.) Remember, there is opportunity all around you- all you have to do is look every once in a while.
Thanks again for letting me take your pictures guys, and everyone make sure to follow Suzy Gorman on Instagram @suzygormanphoto!
Here are more shots from the St. Louis Excursion: