Greetings! My name is Chris Orwig , and I’m a photographer, interactive designer and educator. I whole heartedly agree with the acclaimed French photographer Marc Riboud who says, “Photography is about savoring life at 1/100th of a second.” And it is true, isn’t it? Photography enriches, enlivens and expands how we think, what we see and who we are. Photography helps us live more fully, more completely. Having a camera in hand does make a difference. Yet, throughout one’s photographic journey, there are seasons when our passion and vitality dwindles. That’s why we read blogs like this. We’re looking for a bit of straightforward information and inspiration that will further us along. In light of that, here’s a post devoted to providing you with some creative thoughts and anecdotes that will hopefully lead you to creating more compelling photographs – enjoy!
Burn out or Burn Bright As a photography faculty at the Brooks Institute, I’ve worked with a wide range of students. Some have gone on to accomplish great things – even fame! Others have dried up, burned out and left the field all together. I’ve always been interested in this dichotomy, and it interests our students as well. They are always on the lookout for the secret that will help them excel. A few years back, one student was having his portfolio reviewed by the legendary Jay Maisel.
The review was fine, yet after it was over the student pleaded with Jay, “Tell me, how can I take more interesting photos?” With missing a beat, Jay volleyed back, “Become a more interesting person.” Or said in another way, as Chris Rainier told me last week, “…at some point photography becomes autobiographical. In order to create better photos, sometimes we need to put down the photography books and magazines. Then we need to go out and to develop who we are.”
Who we are, shapes what we see.
Make the Ordinary Extraordinary Regardless of who you are or what your do, it is easy for anyone to fall prey to “if only” thinking. If only I had that lens. If only I had that camera. If only I was given that assignment. If only I lived in that town. If only. Yet, to counter such stifling thoughts, many photographers I know use their imagination to redefine circumstances. And right now, I’m not talking about photographically finding beauty in unlikely circumstances. While that is critical, here I’m talking about defining who you are and what you do. Let me explain. (more…)
When high school guys have a little too much courage (or booze) in their system, they sometimes hit the road for a game of “chicken.” In the game (primarily designed to thin the herd of the stupid young males before they get to breed) two people drive right at each other in cars, until one blinks and swerves out of the way first.
This person is the loser of the game.
Get a little more age and enough alcohol involved — and a handgun — and you may end up with a game of Russian Roulette, which is an even faster ticket to a finalist slot in the Darwin Awards.
As a young sports photographer 20 some-odd years ago, our professional equivalent was a little game we liked to call “First Frame.” I was introduced to it by my friend Rich Riggins, who was a ridiculously good sports shooter at a very young age.
The rules were simple: Two competing photographers shooting the same game shot the first frame of a 36-exposure roll of Tri-X at each other, thus verifying that no rolls of film were switched later. The very next frame was your entry in the game. Whoever had the best action shot (moment, composition, focus, etc.) won.
Mind you, this was in the days of film and manual focus cameras. We didn’t have 11FPS auto-focus digital Uzis with 4000-shot clips. And yes, we walked to school, five miles, uphill both ways — in the snow. Barefoot.
It’s and honor to be back on Scott’s blog, and if you’re here reading this, I hope you are as big of a fan of Scott as I am. “Thanks” is never enough for someone I have learned so much from.
As we are all hopefully sitting safely and healthy in our homes, it is my hope that we all are taking time to reflect on the people and work that helped us get to where we are today. Scott is certainly on that short list for me. If you take nothing else away from reading this, be kind to people, regardless of who they are.
Here is a throwback to 2009 when I first met Scott and was literally a nobody just trying to take pictures of some sports. The story of how this photo even came to be is great, but that is for some other time.
I have been a sports photographer for almost 15 years (what?!), and I just finished up my first season as a staff photographer for the Tennessee Titans. No job is without its bumps and issues, but this is truly a dream job. I dreamt of working for an NFL franchise since the day I picked up a camera and its crazy to sit here thinking about how wild the journey has been to get here.
This first year took me with our team to the AFC Championship game and was one of the most challenging and most fun seasons I’ve had. And this offseason will certainly go down as one of the most memorable of my life, but that is probably the same for all of us.
I would love to impart some wisdom or share something that will be helpful to everyone who reads this, but my truth is probably not much different from many of you with everything going on in the world right now… I’m afraid of the future, I’m afraid for my job, I have been told to work from home but I’m not sure if I am doing it right, or that I am being as helpful to my coworkers as I would like to be.
I’m a photographer after all, I should be making pictures right? I have made some pictures and have plans for some other things to help, but it’s a strange feeling not being able to leave your house and go create.
The joy I have felt in this strange time is the community of photographers around me. As a whole, sports photographers have a reputation as being a curmudgeon-y group of grumps who are somehow always mad about something.
But the truth I have discovered is that while those people exist, they don’t speak for all of us. There are so many great people who help each other in times of need and want to see each other succeed. No other time have I seen it more than now when most should be grumpier than ever, but they are not. So I salute our industry as a whole, especially in these times of uncertainty.
I don’t have much else to say or add to this week, but if you have some time and have some questions, shoot me a message over on Instagram or email me and I would be happy to catch up with any of you!
I met Lyrah (Kathleen Warner) on twitter. Honestly I forgot when exactly. She thought my videos were cool and I liked her music. She asked if I’d be down to direct a video. I’m not sure if she knew I hadn’t made one before, but I said yes. My skills directing product and brand videos could translate right? Plus I have friends that have made music videos and I occasionally volunteered for WDMV which connected me with plenty of talented directors I could ask for advice. Plus there’s always YouTube right?
We had our first official meeting about this video on November 9th 2019. The single and video dropped last week on March 18th 2020. Hella great response so far. It made it to COLORSXSTUDIOS Song of the Day, was featured in the Nightcap Apple Music playlist and the best part – friends and strangers have told us so many nice things. Also as of writing this, zero dislikes on YouTube. Now that I’ve said it though someone will probably just dislike it out of spite. Oh well.
We started with a meetup in NYC to talk about the project and outlined the details on Dropbox Paper. We started with her overall aesthetic, vibe of the song, and narrative in the lyrics. Over the next couple of weeks we added moodboards, references, and outlined a storyboard based on the lyrics. Also iMessage. Hella ideas and references exchanged back and forth. I was a lil afraid but just went for it and asked lots of questions and showed her things I found interesting. This helped us narrow things down for the video and get on the same page. Even though we never worked with each other before this we understood how to project manage the hell out of this because of our respective professional experience. Then we settled on a date in LA for the shoot and worked backwards from there.
I have to mention a lot of music videos don’t operate on this long of a timeline. I heard if Gucci Mane has a song Wednesday night he wants a video for then the video will be done and out Saturday night. This was a completely indie production between me and the artist Lyrah so we made up our own process and rules. Also we both worked our respective jobs while making this project happen.
In hindsight our storyboard was very ambitious. We had two different worlds, choreography, freestyles, scenes with extras, performance scenes, and several locations we wanted to shoot in. Also styling, props, make-up, art direction for everything. All in one day. I’d like to think I was optimistic and planning well but perhaps there was more naivety and a big ass cup of Dunning-Kruger effect.
Since Lyrah already had the song recorded I found references from movies and other music videos that generally fit the storyboard and put it together. This served as our template for making the video.
My brother’s name is Green – yes we are named after colors. I enlisted his help in making the choreography for after the chorus. He’s hella dope, just check out his Instagram or Tik-Tok. He can move. He filmed himself doing all 3 parts and then cut it together and did hella masking to plan out the blocking. What a pro.
The crew would be myself, my brother and my friend Carl. Green worked with and for a lot of YouTubers in LA so he knew how to operate on set. My friend Carl also came on as DP and gaffer. I met him partying in Hong Kong during study abroad almost 10 years ago. I don’t know why but I remember he had a bowtie and suspenders on. He’s the only one that actually went to film school and that made a huge difference on set. My friend John also showed up to take BTS pics and hang. He’s the one to thank for the beautiful non-iPhone images you get to look at while reading this.