Life of an Adrenaline Junkie

The addictive side of my personality came into play in the early days of my career when I photographed documentary-style weddings. It wasn't the love of seeing the beautiful bridal parties or the emotion-filled ceremonies that kept me coming back for more (not that those weren't great), it was the thrill of performing under pressure. After all, weddings are a one shot deal. You either get the picture or you don't.

These days my projects tend to be less event oriented, but whenever photographs of humans are concerned, there is the challenge of rising to the occasion. Every shoot presents different problems to be solved, whether it is lighting conditions, making the subject comfortable or getting the right picture within a small window of time. All  contribute to my love of photography.

Colleen LaSota uses Moxa in her acupuncture practice at Four Gates Energetic Culture,  © 2017 Kristine Heykants

Colleen LaSota uses Moxa in her acupuncture practice at Four Gates Energetic Culture,  © 2017 Kristine Heykants

In Search of Magic

On July 1st I will be leading a workshop in at the Belmond Art Center about creating visual meaning with portraits.  When I make a portrait, I hope to reflect something of my subject's experience in the world, although it is always interpreted through my ideas. Part of our workshop discussion will center on ways we create connection with our subjects, whether they are loved ones or people we are meeting for the first time. The process of making a picture plays an important role in the resulting image. I find the best pictures happen when I let go of attachments to the outcome. It's like the magic shows up when I release my notions of how something should look.

Uprooted will be on view July 1 - July 31 at the Belmond Art Center, 1179 Taylor Ave, Belmond, Iowa, 50421. Email me for workshop details.

The Role of Archetype in Portraiture

Jeff - Meat dept. manager and butcher, 2016

Jeff - Meat dept. manager and butcher, 2016

As Uprooted progressed, I needed a framework to guide my choice of subjects, so I turned to the method of typology. Archetypes are universal patterns in human nature that often appear in literature and psychology. I decided to photograph every role in the town, including different occupations and socioeconomic classes. The butcher at the local grocery store is an interesting archetype, his profession has an ancient connection to our hunter-gatherer ancestors as well as a link to current-day societies around the globe. It reminded me of when I was photographing in Tuscany and a local butcher told me his family had been in the profession for over 400 years! That tradition and connection to identity is entrenched in Italy’s culture, which parallels and contrasts with the Belmond butcher.

Focus on Lighting Technique

Joe - manager scrap metal yard, 2016

Joe - manager scrap metal yard, 2016

In my portraits, I almost always use flash to build on the light existing in a scene, to direct the viewer's eye around an image and create a hierarchy of information about the subject. Even outdoors, the addition of lighting can make a difference in the way an image communicates.  In some situations there are crowded backgrounds to consider. That was definitely the case when I  photographed scrap metal workers in their warehouse as it was a jumble of machinery and metal: Engine parts commingled with construction debris and disused farm implements. Here the flash highlights the subject, Joe (and the circuit boards to his right), bringing them out of the chaotic background. The use of lighting to help organize information in the frame is an important part of my process in creating environmental portraits.