I did some work for friends of mine last Sunday. Their son is graduating high school this year and they didn't want the usual grad picture. Turns out Tyler is an exceptional musician. He and his Dad do most of the instrumental work for their church. I suggested we do something with a guitar and Tyler suggested something in the church. Awesome! I thought to myself. I was thinking Tyler would probably show up dressed in black with heavy eye liner and a chicken and we could do something with him standing on the alter under a cross with lots of candles.... Turns out those are just my musical influences.
I picked Tyler up Sunday afternoon and he was dressed in a flannel shirt with ripped jeans and a bandanna. Ok a thought. Not what I was expecting. We got to the church and went inside to look around. No alter, No cross, No candles. Again... not what I was expecting. I took a few moments to feel the energy of the space. It was very plain, unglorified. Not at all like I remembered when I was a young boy and went to church. The people who came here must have to interact with one another cause there was certainly nothing to look at. Tyler and I talked for a bit and I found out he was planning on a philosophy major in the fall. We discussed his religious views and his future with his girlfriend. I found him to be quite confident and centered.
We brought in my gear and I got Tyler to get on stage and play a bit. The kid could really wail.
The only art in the building was a tree on the far wall and I wanted to somehow include that in the images. The symbology behind the tree is diverse and it has numerous meanings in various religions. I didn't ask what the representation was to him (probably cause I was trying to figure out how to make it part of the photograph) I simply took it to represent growth and strength.
The shoot started out with a sort of christian rock band feel to it. We shot that way for awhile until I felt I wasn't conveying the feel of the space well. I started moving around looking for another angle. That's when I remembered a friend telling me about a shoot he did with Bruce Springsteen.
The images created isolated Bruce as a musician but they showed something else too.They showed his confidence and dedication to his pursuit. Tyler had drifted off into his own personal space and I was anxious to capture the moment. I circled around him and interjected only to reposition him. He played to himself for the remainder of the day. I looked at the final frame on the back of my camera and I was moved. The image showed Tylers confidence and dedication to his craft. It showed his strength. The juxtaposition of the tree in the background suggested room for growth. As a photographer it was a rewarding day. As a fellow human being.... it was a privilege.