Photographing people and documenting their experiences is at the core of why I started a career in photography. For the last 2+ years I have been capturing the monthly events put on by the amazing team at Social Media Breakfast Madison. The mornings would consist of viewing the rising sun on my route to that month’s location, coffee, and people, people, people.
When lockdown and the safer-at-home ordinance was enacted, I initially took this as a moment to pause. I hunkered down with some online courses I’d been wanting to complete and started and finished (sort of) projects around my home. When SMBMad announced they would be adapting like so many others and streaming the presentation, my wife and photography partner Addie turned to me and said “Awesome, let’s photograph this from home, too!”
And we did. We realized that this was a moment-in-time to continue to capture. Screen time was not something to stop us from documenting experiences, but rather a unique obstacle that created a challenge we would tackle. So, we devised a plan… (We are planners.)
1) Set up the computer as the subject.
We lit the computer like we would a person, with plenty of windowlight and interesting composition of angles. And like most live feeds and Zoom calls, we quickly realized it’s always important to keep your cat out of the shot!
2) Photograph in multiple locations.
With the computer as our subject, we moved it around to pleasing locations, just like we would an individual whose portrait we were taking. We grabbed our SMBMad mug to give the photos context. And added more personality with the computer sitting on our laps or cellphones in our hand while sitting in our backyard.
3) Screen capture throughout presentation.
We also made sure to grab screenshots throughout the presentation. Again, it brought context to what was really happening — a new way to communicate, learn, and yes, photograph. We embraced that these would look different from traditional event photography, but it was truly documenting the event as it was.
The commute has been shorter for the monthly morning photos, but the coffee and the people remain a constant. We love a creative challenge and could have never imagined a scenario exactly like this… But to quote SMBMad board member Dan Roe, we used #CovidCreativity. And to quote Vanilla Ice, “If there was a problem, yo, I’ll solve it.”
Be well everyone,