Lighting Boot Camp Assignment #6, And a Little Surprise

There are a couple of twists awaiting within the final Boot Camp assignment. But first a little story.

When I was a snot-nosed high school sophomore - and a band geek, at that - there was this guy in my band who was a bit of a legend on the tuba.

His name was Ernest "Chip" Machamer. And in his high school career of numerous solo and ensemble competitions, he had never received anything but "straight ones" (the absolute highest grades possible) in each of his adjudicated performances.

One day, I asked him what his secret was.

He said that it was simple. Of course, he practiced until he was blue in the face (tuba'll do that to you.) But on the day of the actual performance he relaxed, got in a great mood and just tried to get out there and have as much fun as possible.

What a great idea - and useful for far more than tuba solo competitions.

Work hard to learn your craft. Get you fundamentals down pat. And when it is time to pull it all together, hang loose and just enjoy what you are doing.

It is where ability meets creativity. You trust your ability to do what you need to do, but you shift your focus to enjoying the process, being receptive to inspiration and relaxed execution. In other words, practice well, then don't try to swing too hard. Get in a groove and see how much further the ball goes.

And that is the approach I would love to see you take on this, the final Boot Camp assignment.

But before I tell you what it is, a small detour into the first of two variations.

To Chris Garrett - Blogger, Performancer and Disher of Sound Advice:

I invite you to participate in the final assignment and document the process on Share your thought process, your mistakes, your edits and your final entry.

I think your readers would get a kick out of watching you progress through this assignment. And it is, I think, the most interesting of the entire Boot Camp.

I am offering this invitation in public and utterly without advance notice so that you may get the same thrill of waking up to your altered agenda as did I.

It's okay. You can thank me later. :)

Now, on to the assignment, followed by a twist that will be of interest to all who complete this final task.

Assignment Six: CD

Phil Phlashen, having skyrocketed out of obscurity on the tails of a simple headshot and the series of walk-off home run assignments that followed, has caught the interest of the faltering bricks-and-mortar music industry.

"Can he do for us what he did for solar power?" they wonder, as they sip their Phlashen-influenced bottled waters.

"Sure he can," they reason, as they pick up the phone and dial him.

Now, when you get an assignment to do something like a CD cover, there are restrictions to consider.

First, the format. Think squarish, as in absolutely square, as in not vertical or horizontal.

And this square will not contain just your photo, either. We have to know who this is, and what the album is named. Leave room for type. Add it yourself, if you like.

But, most importantly, you have to produce something that is appropriate to the artist.

Are they new in their career, or are they already famous?

What kind of music?

What is their personality? Laid back? Psychotic? Something in between?

Are they about looks, or talent? (Or, occasionally, both...)

These are all factors which will limit and influence what you shoot.

And to keep you from having to make all of those decisions on your own (especially from making them conveniently "after the fact" to fit your photos.) I will give you three choices. You will choose one (preferably before you shoot) and call your shot.


• New artist. No one knows them. (You'll need to shoot a photo that does not assume prior familiarity.)
• They can be an instrumentalist of a vocalist. You can include the instrument.
• Personality: Laid back, and hoping to be the Next Big Thing


• Established artist. We all know him/her.
• You may include a guitar or not.
• Personality: Psychotic, person your mom warned you about as a child.


• Think "Greatest Hits" here. We all know and love this person, and you can assume extreme prior familiarity in your photo.
• No instrumentation.
• Losing it fast, but resting on past laurels for one last album. Next surge of popularity not scheduled to occur until shortly after death.

You must choose one. You photo should fit with and support the full concept of your choice.

Looking back at the string Boot Camp of assignments, draw upon your experience.

Obviously, the headshot assignment will come into play. The environmental assignments - backdrop, solar and room - should help you if you choose to include surroundings. And the idea of selling water - well, you'll want to apply that thinking to a person for this assignment.

There is an extra tag on this one, to account for your genre choice. So, they are:

• Strobistbootcamp
• CD
• [Your Country]
• [Pro or Amateur]
• [Debut, Middle or Retrospective]

The deadline for your square, typography-enabling composition is: 11:59 local time, 9/27/2006.

Previously existing photos are not allowed. Although, I think the assignment is specific enough to preclude the practicality of that anyway.

And now, for twist number two.

Let's Make This a Little More Interesting, Shall We?

As you know, Strobist Boot Camp has been generously sponsored by Midwest Photo Exchange, where Moishe Appelbaum is dedicated to stocking the cool, inexpensive gear that lets us get these frugally illuminated photos. (That's your cue to give him a call, e-mail or visit.) And Moishe will, you'll remember, be sending double-fold umbrellas for the pro and amateur who each turn in the best photo (as judged by a group of Sun staffers) from the aggregate of the first five assignments.

Did I say "five" assignments?

Well then. It appears that die has already been cast. No use trying to shoot for a Westcott special on this last effort.

Instead, for the final assignment, a special award awaits the person who turns in the photo that could most convincingly grace the shelves of a local CD store.

There is only one prize, and it will be awarded from a pool of both the pro and amateur shooters. But I will make the selection based on the curve.

The spiff in this last little group effort is none other than a full set of the new Dean Collins DVDs, albeit already opened and previously viewed. Linda Collins was gracious enough to send an extra review copy, and I will be forwarding it onto an deserving shooter.

(If you only accept brand new, sealed DVDs, let me know and I will send them to the runner up instead.)

So, get shooting, turn in your best stuff, and yak about it here.


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