Working on capturing the mood and place for a community

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 100, ƒ/5, 1/320

I am working on a story that requires me to go to a few states and capture some of the culture in those communities.

This week I am in Hyannis, Massachusetts. I cannot think of Hyannis without thinking about the Kennedy family. It is also a beach town and this is the closest I could find to bring me to what I think about when I think of this community.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 100, ƒ/4, 1/800

I tried to capture the beach in a way that said Cape Cod. Some of the lighthouses in this area are in private communities guarded by gates. I didn’t want to just go all over the coast when the area I needed to concentrate on is Hyannis.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 100, ƒ/4, 1/640
Just turning around is the ocean, but to me this could of been anywhere on the east coast. I was missing something that made me thing of Hyannis which is in Cape Cod.
I am capturing not just moments but symbolism and I needed the building that was classic to the architecture of Cape Cod.
Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 100, ƒ/5, 1/400
This is a typical home in Hyannis. What I mean is the color of the home and the cedar siding.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 100, ƒ/5, 1/320

Now I went to Main Street and captured some of the shops along the street. While this isn’t the peak of the summer when the place would be packed, I do think I was capturing some of the community.

Samsung 7S Edge, ISO 50, ƒ/1.7, 1/18816

While in Lansing, Michigan I went to the local GM plant and shot this through the chain link fence on a bridge. The reason I used my cell phone is my camera lenses were too big and captured the fence. The lens on the Samsung 7S Edge was small enough to fit in the opening of the fence.

Some photos are not as dramatic, but do help establish what a community is about. Many people are employed here from the community.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 2200, ƒ/8, 1/100

The other thing about Lansing is it is the state capital of Michigan. I worked at getting a decent photo of the state capital to help talk about the community.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 1800, ƒ/8, 1/800

Sometimes detail shots like of this lamp around the capital can be very useful in a package to tell a story.

All of these stills are part of a larger story where I will be using motion and interviews to put the story together. My goal with the photos is to have some b-roll that I can use just like Ken Burns does in his films. I often find panning across a still photo is much smoother than video sometimes can be and I can get many more shots in than the time it takes to get a 20 second motion clip.

Here some travel tips that I am using for each of my trips.

  • Google the City and look under images for your search
    • Make a list of possible locations
    • Research where to maybe take some of those photos 
  • Schedule my interview early with the subject so I have time to go out and capture some of the images of the things the subject talks about in their comments.
  • Talk to people from the area
  • Talk to front desk people at the hotel for their input. Sometimes they can give you unique insights
Now many times the city skyline is quite famous. For me this is a photo you need if the community is know for it’s unique skyline. Here is a post I did about the St. Louis Skyline.
Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 100, ƒ/8, 2.5 sec
Sometimes like with the famous skyline of Seattle you get what I call a WOW photo. The key is to try and find a way to surprise your audience.
Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12500, ƒ/5.6, 1/125
Sometimes it is just getting close to an icon like the Auburn War Eagle. 

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