The Longest Yard Sale


I’ve travelled to the World’s Longest Yard Sale off and on since the mid 1990’s.  I went to college in a town close to the trail which now runs along US 127 from southern Michigan down through Tennessee and then on different roads through Georgia and Alabama.  It now takes place the first weekend in August and you get four days where 675 miles of flea markets, garage sales, and yard sales appear.  Just about any business near the route dedicated to selling cheap junk goes all out for the weekend.

When I first started going, the sale took place in mid-August and provided a way to get cheap items to fill out the dorm or apartment in college while getting back together with friends not seen during the summer.  After graduation a few of us continued the trend, but now it’s down to me and a long time friend from college.   The weekend now functions as a chance to catch up for a couple days as for buying cheap junk.


This year’s trip marked the first year I’ve been able to go and seriously working in photography as last year I didn’t get to go and the year before I was on my photo sabbatical.  I knew going in that I’d be looking for props and wardrobe along the way.  We managed to travel from the north end in Hudson, Michigan down into central Kentucky over three days this year.  Following the trail forces you off the Interstates and through small towns and communities like West Unity, OH and Danville, KY I’d probably otherwise never see.  You come across the routine and the bizarre along the way.  The traditional sits side by side with the new like the construction of windmills in fields of corn and soybeans.

Overall I found some success picking up some items for wardrobe and props.  On wardrobe I focused mostly on general items that would work with many models or I’d found more.  I also found many people were a little too attached to their stuff, or at least more attached than I.  I really like the things I came home with and look forward to working them into some coming shoots.

I intentionally didn’t take my camera on the trip, though I ended up buying a film SLR during it, because I knew I wouldn’t have time for shoots and would be on the go so much I didn’t need something else to keep track of.  Still my iPhone provides a few interesting images from the trip.

Ten Days on the Road

Bree Addams on a BridgeI’ve not been able to shoot much of late.  I’ve been travelling most of the last couple weeks for either work or fun with no time to shoot along the way.  Two separate trips to Nashville and then a long road trip that stretched from Michigan to North Carolina.  Just about every day began with getting up early before I was on the go all day and ending by going to bed late.  The next day I’d repeat.  I think I’ve had a taste of the life of some of the travelling models that I work with.  Enjoyed the chance to see a lot of friends I don’t get to see that often along the way and spend a few days with a friend since college.

Over the weekend I did get a chance to do some flea market and yard sale shopping where I picked up some props for coming shoots.  Along with the usual hats, coats, and belts I also ran into a great price on a Canon AE-1 film SLR with lenses and flash.  Not looking to get into shooting film at the moment, but that might make a nice winter project when outdoor shooting goes away for a few months.  Already have a plan to use the camera in a shoot later this week.  Also have a shoot coming up on Sunday along with a couple last month to catch up on so expect more posts soon.

Speaking of outdoor shoots above is an interesting photos from a shoot with Bree Addams right before I started travelling.  Posting with very little processing to show the interesting lighting effect on her at that moment.  It almost looks like I’ve pasted her into the photo, but that’s how it came out of the camera.

Welcome to the New Design

If you’ve been here before, you should notice the new design.  I implemented the previous design early last year, but actually designed it more than a year earlier that so it felt a little stale already to me.  This new design finally has all of the site looking identical and I think better shows off my photos and work.  It also takes advantage of newer browsers to deliver some more exciting content.  I expect that I’ll be tweaking and editing for a little while, but overall I think you’ll see things much as they look now.

If you see any weirdness on the site, let me know.

A Look at 500px

Katlyn Lacoste Near the FallsLast week I tweeted that I had begun playing with a web site called 500px.  I’d joined the site a couple weeks ago after seeing it mentioned on Twitter by another photographer Zack Arias.  I posted two photos that day and played with the site a bit, but didn’t have much of a chance to come back to the site until earlier this week.  After working around the site for a couple days I’d written up a blog post on my thoughts that I planned to publish around the middle of this week.  However shortly after my Tuesday night tweet on the site I uploaded two new photos to the site including the one to the right from my shoot with Katlyn Lacoste last month.  Though I felt it the best photo from the shoot I’d not posted it here to save the image for an entry to itself so it could have the attention it deserved.

500px works wonderfully and I think it’s worth a look right now for any photographer.  The site feels well thought out and the recent attention they are getting seems well deserved.  It’s the first time that I’ve joined and really used a photo sharing site of this type.  I have a Flickr account, but don’t think I ever posted a single photo to it.  You can see that social sites like Facebook have influenced the 500px design.  The terms of service are photographer friendly and I feel comfortable sharing photos there.  For those without a website or blog of their own, the site also offers the ability to sell prints directly from the site.

The basic social features are all there including commenting on photos, marking photos as favorites, and the ability to follow another photographer.  I do like the ability to follow a photographer since if I like your work I can easily see what you do next.  The overall quality of photos on the site seems high which I think comes from having some very good photographers on the site and a well thought out ranking system works.  They also have some very interesting ideas on ranking and rating photos that are largely targeted at trying to help photographers get exposure on the site.  Part of their rating method reduces a photo’s rating over time which I like as it puts an emphasis on both uploading new photos to the site and keeps photos that have been on the site for a long time from dominating the popular lists.

I can share an experience on how well the process can work even for someone like me new to the site.  After uploading the two photos Tuesday night I moved to another project that occupied me until bedtime so I didn’t pay attention to anything photo related the rest of the evening.  My earlier two photos had gotten some notice and been added as a favorite by a few other photographers.  I woke up the next morning to find that the photo of Katlyn had gotten a good bit of attention overnight.  Then 500px promoted the photo by publishing it in their Fresh photos at 500px for July 20.  From that point the photo soared and at one point Wednesday afternoon the photo was on the second page of most popular photos on the entire site.  As of now the photo has dropped off from the peak, but still appears to be getting traffic.  Remember that this is for someone who had been a member less than two weeks and had a total of four photos on the site.

I’m pretty sure that I’ve never had a single image viewed more times that this one of Katlyn.  The interesting side effect has been more traffic to my main web page.  On Wednesday my site saw about three times as many visitors as a normal day and the traffic bump still lingers even through yesterday which saw about twice as many as a normal Saturday.  I’ve also seen a similar bump on Twitter where I’ve gained more followers this week to my candidvision account than in the previous month.

Sometimes It Just Doesn’t Work

A recent shoot reminded me of an important lesson that sometimes a shoot concept just doesn’t work.  I would expect this occasionally with an inexperienced model or when I’m working with a new model.  In this case I was working with an experienced model that I’ve shot with many times before and always with great results.  One of the concepts that I brought to shoot just didn’t work.  The model couldn’t feel it and get into the right mindset.  We tried for a while and she did get close a few times, but in the end she just never felt it and the shots just aren’t there.

My mistake came when I kept working on the idea even after it became obvious to me that she couldn’t get her mind into the right place.  It’s true that she wanted to keep trying, but at some point I should have moved to another concept that held more promise.  The reminder comes to adapt your shoot to the situation that you’re in and not being afraid to abandon a concept that isn’t working.  You can always try it again another day or with another model.  Here we didn’t have time for one concept and if I’d moved to that and left the other concept behind I think we’d had a more successful shoot.

An Outdoor Experiment in Three Parts–Keira Grant, Hannah Perez, and Melissa Troutt

Reaching Toward Another with Melissa Troutt, Keira Grant, and Hannah PerezAfter working with Keria Grant in mid May we discussed shooting again when she came back through the area in late June.  As we finalized the date for the next shoot, I developed the idea of pairing her with another model in an outdoor setting.  I’d taken two models on an outdoor shoot before with Melissa and Katlyn last fall with wonderful results, but felt I’d been too cautious and reserved in directing the shoot and not gotten all I could have out of such great models.  I got some great images from that shoot, but always felt that I could have done more and if I’d been a bit more daring I could have gotten even better images.

Left Out with Melissa Troutt, Keira Grant, and Hannah Perez I’ve mentioned my plans to experiment more this summer and as part of that plan I began to consider adding a third model to the shoot.  I’ve worked with two models several times, but never three.  I knew that adding another model would make things more difficult, but liked the additional possibilities it would add.

After lining up Melissa Troutt for the second model I also brought in a third model that I’ve worked with before in Hannah Perez.  The biggest challenge I face getting ready for the shoot came in finding the correct location.  I wanted a scenic outdoor location, but also needed a private one so three nude models could work for several hours without being concerned about onlookers.  Several possible locations wouldn’t work due to storm damage or just not meeting my needs.  I ended up deciding to use on one of the first locations that I scouted for the shoot back in early June while on another shoot.

Escape Attempt with Melissa Troutt, Keira Grant, and Hannah PerezThe weather forecast the morning of the shoot was just a bit menacing, but the rain held off and we had an amazing shoot.  Working with three talented models turned out to be a wonderful experience and almost every photo is great.  In fact the most difficult task in editing these images came in picking the best photos out of the those taken.  I honestly can say that I’ve not found myself with a greater ratio of great photos at the end of a shoot than this one.

Overall a lot of time and energy went into getting this shoot together and it’s not something I’d do every day in spite of the enjoyment and success.  It surprised me how much mental energy it took to direct the shoot and keep things moving.  This still was one of the most enjoyable shoots that I’ve ever done and worth all the effort put into it and I think the photos speak to that.

Shoot with Melissa

Melissa on the ChairI kept busy last week with a couple shoots worked around some summer vacation.  I’ve also spent a significant bit of time the last couple weeks pursuing an interesting and unexpected opportunity.  I expect to know if that will come to pass something later this week and if so will make the next couple months very interesting.

A few days after working with Katlyn I went back to Asheville for a wonderful shoot with Melissa Troutt.  We created some very nice images with three distinct looking sets all shot with a few dozen feet of each other.  We also had an exciting moment where the ceiling fan in the room we were shooting in broke loose from its mount and only the wiring prevented it from falling down on top of us.  We were able to get it shut off and taken down without injury and while I enjoy exciting shoots, that’s a bit more excitement than I’m usually looking for.  Above is a nice image from the shoot.

Melissa ArchedThe location had an amazing bathtub that we played with doing some more glamour images in addition to the artistic styled work we normally do together.  An image I really like the to the right taken in that tub with Melissa forming a great arch with her body with the edge of the tub.

Happy July 4th to everyone and take a moment today to remember all those things it stands for.

Outdoors with Katlyn Lacoste

Katlyn Lacoste in the FallsI’m currently in the middle of a busy two week period both with shoots and general life.  Back on Tuesday I went over to Asheville for a shoot with Katlyn Lacoste.  Her being in Asheville gave me the chance to work at a location that I’d always wanted to go to, but never been able to get the logistics to work out right.  After an early start to beat the heat and crowds we headed down the Blue Ridge Parkway to our location.

It took a little longer to get there than expected thanks to roads that live up to the term mountain roads, but we arrived to find a beautiful location.  The recent rains left plenty of water to work with at and around the falls.  Before the growing crowds drove us to wrap up a bit early we got some very great work in together out there.  I really love the image above with her just at the edge of the falling water.

Katlyn Lacoste Number 20This week I also worked in a shoot with Melissa Troutt on Friday.  Our location turned out to be a nice change and we created three sets with a very different feel all shot within feet of each other.  We also were attacked by a ceiling fan, but that story will have to wait until next time.

I’m very excited about my big project for the month coming up in just a few days.  I’m bringing Melissa Troutt, Hannah Perez, and Keira Grant together for an outdoor shoot later in the week.  I’m very excited about getting the chance get these three great models together.  I’ve worked with all three before and think putting them together will produce some amazing results.

Another shoot this week too with a new model.  Expect many photos in the next few days.

Related Images:

How I’ll spend my Summer Vacation

Melissa Troutt On Rock in Stream Been a hell of a last seven days.  Spent most of last Sunday helping a friend clean up a large tree that had fallen over.  Monday started with a voicemail that left me needing a few moments to recover and things have stayed chaotic from there.  I also had to do one of the most unpleasant things I’ve ever done this week.  No shoots either because of my schedule was just too crowded with other things.  Looking forward to a more enjoyable couple weeks coming up.

My plan for the rest of the summer is to do more experimentation and try some new things.  I worked with some amazing models last month including Melissa, Keira, Moon, and Katy among others and all did great work and we got amazing photos in every shoot.  Toward the end of the month I felt that I’d gotten a little too comfortable and not pushed to get a little more from the shoot.

So for the rest of the summer I’m going to try some new things.  I’m looking to start playing around with video a little.  I’m going to try out a few ideas that I’d dismissed as too hard or crazy before.  I don’t know if the results will always be great, but I think the good will outnumber the bad.

I am excited that I get to work with Katlyn Lacoste again in a few days. I Found a great location that I’ve not shot before so look for new photos later in the week. Also things look to be coming together great for a shoot at the end of this month I’ve had in mind for a few months where I am going to work with a three model shoot that I’m very excited for.  I’ve always had a bit of a mixed track record with multi-model shoots. A few have went flawlessly, but many have seen various problems or weirdness arise.  I’m bringing in three models I have worked with in the past, that I think will work well together, and believe the results will be awesome.

Photo above from shoot with Melissa Troutt last month.

Shoot with Xlcr Moon

XlcrMoon-25Continuing my way behind catch up of the shoots from May, I got the chance to work with model Xlcr Moon last month.  I’d not been home for long after my shoot with Keira Grant back in May when I got a message from Xlcr Moon.  She and I had talked about setting up a shoot, but the timing hadn’t looked promising until June.  Now though she was heading out for a trip a bit early and wanted to see if I could do a shoot the the next day.  Luckily I had the evening free and after a bit of texting back and forth we’d managed to set up a shoot.

We met that evening and worked together for a couple hours.  I’ve been coming back inside a bit more recently after spending a lot of the year after it warmed up outdoors.  While I do love outdoor shooting, sometimes you want to explore ideas and concentrate on an emotion or concept that really just doesn’t work outside well.  At the first of the shoot we did a set exploring the idea of sadness and loss.  After that we worked on some bodyscape images with her.  She did great work and you can see my favorite from the shoot to the right.

More images from the shoot with Xlcr Moon are also now up on Uncovered Visions.