Next in the Leading Questions Project is bassist, Clipper Anderson. Clipper is an incredible musician and really personable guy. Clipper laughs often and places a high value on friends and family.
This shot came about in mid-July of this year. Clipper and I were scheduled to play at the Port Townsend Jazz Festival with pianist, Randy Halberstadt. I thought this would be a great opportunity to use this interesting location to get a portrait of Clipper.
Within our busy schedule we had about a two hour window on Friday afternoon, July 25th, to get the shot. The problem was that I hadn't come up with a strong concept. It is my desire that the images for this project have a lot of character.
We were staying at Fort Worden, an interesting old military base that was used for the filming of the movie, An Officer And A Gentleman. There are a number of cool buildings, open fields and so on to work with. I walked through some of the buildings hoping to find the right room, but nothing was striking me. 10 years ago, these buildings had beautiful wooden floors, high ceilings, rows of old windows, in a word, character. As I looked through the rooms, I was disappointed to see that a bit of modernization had taken place, substituting the old and interesting with new and generic. Industrial strength carpet lined the floors, and the walls looked like they'd been painted with surplus colors from a Starbucks. Not the vibe I wanted.
I could see Clipper in a couple of poses, the one above, humorously playing his gigantic bass like a guitar, a stronger stance with the bass away from his body, I just needed to find the right location.
With about an hour before I was scheduled to meet Clipper, a concept came to me. I had heard that there is a Goodwill store on the outskirts of town, so I hopped into my car and quickly raced out to find my prop, an old hat. 99 cents and I was in business. I raced back to the fort, called Clipper and asked him to put on a suit and meet me with his bass at the end of the Fort Worden Pier . I raced down to the pier and started making multiple trips out to the end, carrying a C-Stand, a tripod, a Vagabond II, digital cameras, my Mamiya RZ67, an octabox, a drum stool and worst of all, 3 20-pound sandbags. (you know that feeling when you are already wiped out and you haven't even started shooting?) Normally I would have carried my gear on a cart, but the bumpy planks of the pier weren't going to accommodate such easy access.
Clipper's bass is a fine instrument, worth many thousands of dollars. He hauled it out to the end of the pier in it's case. It was very windy and the sun was blazing. He informed me that we had only about ten minutes as the bass could not be left in direct sunlight for very long. I kept him in the shade and began setting up my 4 foot octabox with a White Lightning X1600. When ready, I brought Clipper into position at the end of the pier. The sun was to camera right, just a little behind my back. I decided to place my octabank in it's path, essentially blocking the sun, casting a shadow on Clipper. I really only wanted one light source in this image. I removed the outer panel from my box leaving just the internal diffuser. I wanted a large light source but with a little bit of an edge to it.
In front of Clipper I placed the Goodwill hat with a dollar bill extending from inside. Because of the strong wind, I placed my keys and a 580EX inside, just enough weight. I took a couple of quick meter readings and then had Clipper sit on the stool. I placed a polarizer on the lens to help the sky a little and took a couple of test shots. I then had Clipper execute the two poses I mentioned. I then switched to film with the Mamiya and had him repeat each pose as well as getting a Whibal shot.
As quickly as we began shooting, we were done, I got Clipper and his bass out of the sun and began packing up.
I felt a great sense of satisfaction upon completion of this project. My concept of a bass player in a suit, playing for dollars at the end of a pier, with his instrument humorously positioned like a guitar had come off. I feel that the image has character and humor, and a unique, appealing look. Thanks to Clipper Anderson for his willingness to do what I asked of him.
Here is the alternate image I considered, taken with my 5D.
Although I like this image, I felt it lacked the humor and character that I feel Clipper possesses.
Here is a link to the interview:
Featured image shot with a Mamiya RZ67 w/110mm 2.8 lens at f/5.6 1/250th of a second, using Kodak Portra 160 VC film rated at ISO 100.
Alternate image shot with a Canon 5D w/EF 24-70 2.8L USM lens at ISO 100, f/6.3 1/200th of a second.
The lighting for both shots was provided by a four foot octabank minus the outer diffuser with a White Lightning X1600 strobe, powered by a Vagabond II.
Triggered by Pocket Wizards