[ Alvin, Texas ]
In preparation for my return to Mexico, and hoping to add some light-related options to my photography toolbox, I asked the owners of my favorite local café for a favor. The café was 1820 Coffee House in Alvin, Texas; the favor was to spend a day in their shop—taking free portraits of willing customers and employees.
These were my first-ever portraits using off-camera flash and a modifier—in this case alternating between a collapsible softbox and a reflective umbrella. I wanted to choose one of them to take with me on the bicycle, so I was evaluating ease-of-use, results, and portability. (Primarily for portability reasons, and just FYI, I ended up choosing the softbox.)
I learned very quickly that the real difficulty lay in the non-technical aspects of the session: particularly getting people to relax, with a camera only a few inches from their face, in particular. And I mean “a few inches” quite literally; I was experimenting with extreme close-ups, inspired peripherally by the work of Martin Schoeller, and using a variety of lenses (from 17mm ultra-wide angle, out to 50mm) to achieve different looks.
Some things worked, and some things didn’t. Those that didn’t were entirely the fault of my inexperience and experimentation. It goes without saying that the models/subjects themselves were fantastic.
And speaking of the subjects, let me say once again how appreciative I am. I owe absolutely everyone at the café a debt of gratitude—owners Jake and Dorian, their wonderful families and delightful staff, and their tolerant, patient customers. It was an incredible day of learning for me, and also great fun. So much so that we did it again a few days later, to similar effect.
In the end, I took somewhere around two thousand shots in those two days. I’ll leave you with a handful of my favorites; I hope you enjoy them.
Although I know the names and social media info for nearly all of the folks below, I have left that off intentionally. They know who they are, and are of course free to tag themselves if they’d like to do so!
For those interested, Jake and Dorian interviewed me for their Creating Community podcast late in the summer of 2020. If you’re interested, you can listen to that podcast here.