A Good Time With An Old Friend

A Good Time With An Old Friend

Often in my line of work, I don’t get the opportunity to setup a lighting concept and do a dry run prior to the real deal. It’s usually rolling into a shoot and setting it up mostly improv and by feel. This is mostly because a lot of that work is location-based, and well… that’s just how it works. The studio is a completely different animal, it’s predictable, consistent, and I can count on any testing I can do prior to the shoot will be well invested. So goes the story during the crappy, rainy months of the year here in Washington – lots of studio shooting. This ultimately leads to a few days of the year dedicated to just light testing, whether it’s to work on completely new lighting scenarios, testing new equipment, or just have a free day and get an itchy trigger finger. I recently had one of those days, and I just wanted to play with some light. No client expectations, no deadlines, just for fun. If I came away with something new to use on a future client, great, but it was really just playing around and looking how the light was painting the scene with particular subject poses and such.

The goofy-ass guy you see in these images is my good friend, Ross. Ross and I go back to early high school days. I’m sure like many of you have experienced in school, he was one of a tight group of close friends, and it was never a situation of wondering if we were going to be hanging out, it was simply a matter of where we’d be hanging out together after school. Inherently with all of the time spent together, silliness ensues, we make of lot of great (and not-so-great) decisions in those ripe ol’ teenage years, and there are a lot of stories and history. Over the years, life can put distance (literal distance) between you and your friends, whether that be because of college or work, but we always found ways to hangout a couple times a year. Luckily, the last couple years, Ross and I have found ourselves both living in the same city again. Let the silliness recommence, and let one of these silly situations from way back in high school have it’s day once again.

This leads me into explaining why it looks like Ross is dressed like a homeless person with nine, yes nine shirts on. I’m sure to find this even halfway as amusing as it is to us, you’ll need to know why we thought of putting him in nine shirts. Back in our later high school years, Ross would regularly “pop his collar” (pronounced: poppin’ collah). If it’s not painfully apparent to you what that is after seeing these photos, it’s the act of sticking your shirt collar straight up, rather than it’s intended form of being folded back over. Apparently something silly white boys used to do in the late 90’s because they thought it was either cool and/or funny. So, this was all fine and dandy, you’d have the occasional late teen poppin’ collah here and there. That is until one day Ross rolls into class sporting two popped collars. Yes, two shirts, both popped. Naturally the rest of our close group of friends found this hilarious, and I’m sure Ross loved marinating himself in the laughter he received. On a few ambitious occasions, Ross would even dare to go triple collar, all popped. High schoolers, what are you going to do? Pretty silly, right? We all thought so, until one magical day while shopping at the mall, we saw one of the trendy clothing stores with a manikin in the front window display sporting, yes, a triple popped collar. Had Ross jump-started some crazy white boy ridiculousness? No one can be certain, but for everyone’s sake, thankfully the poppin’ of collars has quietly disappeared into the black abyss of what I’m sure is stuffed-full of bad fashion decisions. Or has it…

Back to my lighting test day at the studio. I asked Ross to come in to be my test subject to blind with my flashes for the day. I wanted to run through some old setups I’ve done in the past, but with a couple new twists. I asked Ross to bring in a few different things to wear, which somehow got translated into, “Hey, Ross, bring every dress shirt you own.” Turned out to be a great thing, as we quickly remembered the collar antics of the 90’s, and decided to go over the top and make it silly. Some pretty well-executed lighting setups mixed with a downright ridiculous outfit, why not? It’s goofy things like this that quickly take a not-so-exciting day of shuffling lights around and turns it into a day of laughs.

I hope to God I don’t see this in the window display of Gap any time soon… Not only did Ross accomplish 9 collars, but he also paid special attention to arranging the cuffs in a layered format as well. This kid…

So here are our resulting photos. I got my lighting itch scratched, and Ross got to look ridiculous. Two missions accomplished. Downtown Tacoma has unfortunately converted all of it’s street parking to either paid and/or time parking, which means you have to run out every 90 minutes to move your car. We were in the middle of shooting and had to go move cars. Ross wasn’t about to take all of those layers off, it took like 10 minutes to get on, so we ventured out with him still wearing it, and I brought a camera along to document. I jokingly call this the “lifestyle” portion of the shoot. He got some stares during the walk, and it felt like old times again.

To complete the day, we promptly texted a couple of the images to the rest of our tight group of friends from high school, “Hey guys, check this out…”