Michael O'Brien kicks it up another notch and shows why he's the real deal.

Get this book of images by Michael O'Brien and Poems by Tom Waits and understand that there's a whole step up in the art of photography beyond us geeks that write blogs and use 50 flashes to show off.

I guess it's easy to lose track of what you got into photography for.  We let clients side track us and we let trends corrupt the way we really should be shooting.  I'm as guilty as everyone else.  But it doesn't feel so bad until someone with a laser focus and a gift for digging in and shooting the hard stuff comes along and rubs our faces in it.  Then all of a sudden a book about LED's or a trip around the country flashing the rubes doesn't seem like such an incredible deal.  That's not to say that Michael is the type to rub anyone's nose in anything.  As far as I can tell the man is a saint.

Michael O'Brien spent four long years meeting the homeless people he photographed (with dignity)  for this book.  He didn't do it because he was sponsored by an equipment manufacturer.  He didn't do it for the money (there rarely is any in art books...).  And he didn't do it as a way to claw into "social media" and show off.  He did it because no one else was doing it and he felt that these were faces that comfortable people needed to see.  We needed to understand a different and pervasive reality outside our limited suburban comfort zones.

He did the book in concert with the singer and poet, Tom Waits.  It's out.  It's there now.  And since UT Press subsidized some of the production you'll be getting a book for $40 that would have cost closer to $70 if produced by one of the bigger, for profit publishers.

I talked to Michael today and he told me he was surprised to find that the final printed work was as good as the original prints he made.

The images were done with a 4x5 view camera and on Polaroid materials.  Check this book out and you'll understand why the world still needs photographers who care less about booking the next workshop or shooting trendy slop for a blog that's peppered with affiliate advertising.  We need them because they are the "bar."  And every time they raise it they make everyone think harder.  And hopefully, work better.

August Osage County. A look at the finished piece.

About a week and a half ago I posted a blog about photographing actors for an upcoming Zach Scott Theatre play.  Here's the link:  http://visualsciencelab.blogspot.com/2011/03/cant-get-enough-of-those-crazy-leds.html.   I showed you the "behind the scenes" raw images that I shot of each actor.  Some were accented from one side and some on the other.  They were all shot against white.

I thought it would be fun and instructive (and a good way to procrastinate) to show you how the designer, Rona, put all the photos together for the promotional postcard.  The combination is much more powerful that the photos individually.   Having a client that does good design work and uses photography well is especially good when they add in two other things:  A big bold credit line coupled with distribution to 20,000 carefully selected trend makers in the community.

You'll probably remember that I shot all the images with the antiquated Canon 1dmk2n cameras and a Zeiss 50mm lens.  You can see that, given the size this will ultimately be used, that we didn't need any more pixels than what we had and that the workflow was quicker and smoother with the smaller files.

Tonight I'm going over to the theater to photograph the dress rehearsal.  It's a long play.  Nearly 3 hours. There are two intermissions.  There's a lot to shoot.  I'm told that the set is pretty cool and I already know the cast is great.

Tonight I'm thinking of shooting a one lens/one camera system.  Make it as easy on myself as possible, commensurate with good results....

So I'm leaning toward the Canon 5Dmk2 with the 24-105mm f4 L lens.  I'm taking the 7D along as well and if the play is such that I need more reach I'll go with that body instead.  For documentation, where expression and timing is more important than ultimate technical quality, I trust both cameras up to 3200 ISO.  The reach will be the determiner.  Just to hedge my bets I'll stick the 70-200 f4L in the bag, as well.  You never know when you might really want to "reach out and touch someone" with your lens..."