If at first you succeed, do it again anyway

Blogger note: These photos are property of the Kentucky Kernel. Any reproduction is a violation of copyright. Please respect my work and the Kernel’s property. If you are interested in purchasing any photos from the Kernel contact Ed Matthews at itakepicturessometimes@gmail.com, or leave a comment with your request.

Kernel photo adviser, Jim Winn, uses a flag for foreground in a photo of a Pershing Rifleman at a memorial for September 11 yesterday.

Sometimes it’s hard to decide what is the best photo in a certain situation.

Even harder though, sometimes you can’t even see a picture that you haven’t seen before. It’s all typical, bland and dry. No matter what corner of the room you move to, they all look equally boring. Well, if standing in the corner doesn’t work, you probably should try hanging from the ceiling or laying in the floor.

Here is a perfect example of a flavorless photo. Yeah, it’s a bit above eye-level and that helps, but basically this isn’t any different than how you would see this if you just walked by. If you look closely, a good photo is being made in the background. Amidst all of those flags on his belly, like a snake in the grass, is Elliott. He’s not wallowing in American pride; his abstruse position is actually showing this in a way most people didn’t.

Three or four of us from the Kernel shot the September 11 memorial held in front of the Administration Building, and we ended up with close to 2,000 pictures of this day-long event. We didn’t have 2,000 pictures taken at eye level, just of a flag pole or member of the color guard. It was more like a step-by-step, from step one to 2,000. Each time we dumped our cards and edited the photos, we critiqued, commented and learned.

Photo by Elliott Hess/Kentucky Kernel
This is what Elliott got from laying in those flags. Would you have thought of it this way? This is a beautiful photo for how clean it is and I love all the red. It’s simple but I can spend time looking at it. Click here to see the slideshow.

You don’t have to have an office nearby to critique and learn quickly though. With a little digital world in your palm, just hit the review button and see how you’re doing. Check your exposures, see if you can squeeze a bit more depth-of-field without losing too much shutter speed to keep it sharp. Look and see if you have a flag pole running through someones head (even though I tried to fix this in my photos, almost all of my photos taken like Jim’s at the top came out horrible).

Jim, Ed, Elliott and I were talking the other day and Jim actually encouraged us to be looking at our screen, or “chimp” as most photogs call it. Many look down on it because it can cause you to miss something, but in a repetitive situation like this, you can learn on-site, which is why Jim was in such support of it. I agree with him. If I waited to get back and look at my photos all the time it may be too late to fix something.

Jim sneaked up on Elliott to grab a snapper. What kind of photographer would I be if I didn’t get the snapper of a snapper?

I feel like people often are too timid when it comes to something that deserves respect, such as this memorial. Of all the photos we took yesterday, I feel that we were respectful. Sometimes it helps me to be willing to do things like Elliott was doing when I think about the outcome. When a person sees his picture on the frontpage of the Kernel, it’s going to be admired, not looked down upon. There are times when these situations deserve respect and it definitely takes different and individual judgment for each situation, but just make sure you coldfeet don’t keep you from getting a good picture. As soon as you get your toes wet you’ll jump right in.blog911memorial0523bjl.jpg

I love Britney McIntosh. This cute picture came only after the memorial was completely over and the ROTC was cleaning up the flags and taking the equipment down. Several of us were playing with light and slow shutters, attempting to show the flags blowing in the wind when I caught her spralled out. 

I stole this idea from Keith. I didn’t exactly do it justice but I’m OK with how it turned out.

I never really got the picture I wanted, but I feel I shot well. I did well enough to where we would have been OK on any other day. By any other day I mean a day when we didn’t have so many great photos.


I really want to commend Christina, Jeff, Elliott and Britney for shooting the event, because they all wanted to shoot it. If any other photogs shot it on their own terms, I applaud that. It takes more than assignments to produce good pictures. Sometimes you have to go out on your own. Then go out again. And again. And again. Don’t stop until you have to.



3 Responses to “If at first you succeed, do it again anyway”

  1. I agree…don’t stop until you have to…

  2. oh brad, you are so funny. what a lovely picture of me. i feel famous. haha.

  3. Brad, I love, love, LOVE watching how much you guys as photogs and as a staff of photogs have grown in the little amount of semester you’ve been through! Very good coverage in the Kernel, I love that you are getting great dom art packages!

    (Kernel grad ’04 — maybe I’ll get to meet you at the reunion?)

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