Photographer Clay Cook recently collaborated with Tether Tools and produced a fantastic photo that is not only inspiring because of the actual final image, but also because of Clay's concept and process that he has explained and laid out for everyone.
Clay says that he tries to work on at least one personal project each month. I touched on that myself in an article a couple of weeks back. We both feel making images for ourselves is very important. Being a photographer is not just about getting jobs and making money. I am a photographer because I love creating and feel everyone should be making something. It is a very important part of life. Photographs are just my own personal outlet, because I can't draw, sing, dance, paint, sculpt, or have talent of any type in any other artistic endeavor. But I sure can make a mean grilled cheese sandwich. However, I was able to figure out how to use a camera somehow, I guess mostly because I am good at math and understand light too — somewhat. Whenever you think you understand light and know exactly what it will do, there it goes and surprises you with something you didn't expect at all. But that's where being a problem-solver comes in, and you adjust to that.
Clay also mentions he does these creative shoots because it helps him focus and keep a good work ethic, which I definitely also agree with. We both often discover new lighting and other techniques during these type of projects, mostly because there is no client we have to please, except ourselves, and we can take more chances trying out new things.
So for this specific image, Clay went out of his comfort zone, both photographically and physically speaking. Photographically, because it is not the usual type of location he would work in, as well as throwing fire into the equation, as I do not think he does that too often, if ever. And then, he was also physically out of his comfort zone, as you can read in his original blog post; it was wet, muddy, and he had to carry a ton of gear a quarter of a mile through the woods to the location.
But at the end, it was all worth it in my opinion. He now has an awesome new image he can put in his portfolio. Great images do not come easily, and you have to work for them. I only shot with fire once before, so I am sure Clay also had to deal with rapid exposure changes after the fire was introduced, as I did. Fire will play games with your camera settings when mixing it in with artificial light.
He did an amazing job with creating this image, and he shows how concepts and teamwork really come into play to produce them. As well as reiterating my feeling that creative projects and personal work are a very important part of what we photographers do, they really can help launch and build careers sometimes.
If you have any questions at all about the image and to read his entire blog post on this particular project, so you can get all his information on the logistics, lighting, processing, and the gear he used, check out the original article on Tether Tool's website.
All images used with the permission of Clay Cook.
[via Tether Tools]