Rediscovering my passion for photography through a creative project for the sole purpose of having fun.
It gets pretty lonely out here as a self employed photographer. Sure, there is a community of other photographers readily available on any social media platform, but in general, we spend a lot of time on our own. When that happens, sometimes the passion for photography can take a turn for the worse, feeling more like a chore than something enjoyable.
Recently, as summer hit the AZ valley, I found myself with very few wedding gigs, or anything really. Typically with the heat comes a lull in business, but I was really feeling the heat this season. And with the down turn, I noticed that I hadn't touched my camera in a couple of months. I could practically feel the dust gathering on it as the days ticked by with no opportunity coming my way.
So one day, I went to Tempe Marketplace to have lunch with my mom. As I was waiting for her to get there, I decided to take a stroll and upon doing so, I stumbled across a magnificent display of rainbow colored umbrellas suspended between a walkway. With not a cloud in the sky, the brilliant blue shown above and the sun illuminated the umbrellas in the most spectacular way. With the only camera I had, I whipped out my phone, stood in the middle of the path and snapped a photo. It was too beautiful and fun not too.
After finishing lunch, I went home and looked back at the photo I had taken. Almost right away I new I wanted to go back with my professional camera and a friend to model underneath them. So I reached out to two of my closest friends,
So with a friend on board, we met a couple days later at the umbrellas. Because it was a Saturday at Tempe Marketplace, we ran into a little bit of people traffic but it almost made it that much cooler. It made the photoshoot more real because there were people walking around in the background, pausing to take their own photos, and simply mulling around and enjoying the weekend.
Because it was such a small area, it didn't take too long to get a bunch of fun shots and then call it a day. Once I got the photos edited, I knew I wanted to explore with more people! It was just too fun of a spot not to try!
Having said that, I don't exactly had a readily available network of people who are jumping at the bit to take photos with me. However, I had just recently joined a private facebook group for AZ creatives and decided I had nothing to lose by posting a photo and asking,
At first I was pretty nervous because I have done these kind of post before through my own page, and gotten little to no response. Something I didn't realize was that once you post in a closed group that is specifically for creatives, you are targeting a smaller group. Instead of fishing in the ocean and hoping for a catch, I was fishing in a pond with the correct bait.
Shortly after the post was published I started getting responses from people who were interested! Needless to say, I was pretty excited! However, with all the good responses, came some pushback. First was a comment from a, let's call them a concerned citizen.
"If security notices, they will kick you out. Tempe marketplace doesn’t allow photography at all. I’ve even asked to try and get clearance for a shoot and they don’t allow it. The stores don’t want their logos photographed and it’s a liability issue that they restrict photography."
Needless to say, I promptly thanked them for letting me know and mentioned that I would be on the look out, to which they continued to push back.
"security there is pretty strict and I’m surprised you got away with it. I wouldn’t push your luck as it gives photographers a bad name when you don’t communicate with places like that and is why they don’t allow photography because other photogs have done so"
Since I am not in the habit of starting trouble, I dug a little deeper and found the Tempe Marketplace code of conduct to which they state that you indeed are not allowed to photograph in stores, but you are allowed to photograph any shopping center decor as a backdrop, aka the rainbow umbrellas.
Because I am a firm believer in the saying, knowledge is power, I wanted to put some concern to rest by sharing what I had learned, so that they may know, should there be any more photoshoot opportunities. But you know what? Some people just like to be stuck in their ways. With all of the other positive responses I was getting, a couple of people would not let the security issue go. So, armed with my knowledge of the Tempe Marketplace code of conduct, I decided that I would go ahead and reach out to those who were showing interest, and get to scheduling time to go out!
The thing with any photoshoot in a public area is to be aware of those around you, be positive and kind, and understand what limitations you may be faced with. So that is what I did. And did I run into any problems with security? Nope! Two times I saw them and they walked right passed me while I was photographing. Had they come up to me and asked me to leave, you know what I would have done? I would have apologized, asked in a polite manner why I wasn't allowed to photograph, and then if they asked me to leave, I would. Nothing is worth fighting over and when you have a good attitude about it all, usually people can come to an agreement.
So what did I get out of this two week creative shoot? I learned that stepping out of your comfort zone can actually be a breath of fresh air. Because I took the chance at posting, I got to meet a lot of really cool people and stay busy for three hours practically everyday for 2 weeks. There was one moment where it got to be a little too much and I felt like it was becoming a chore, but as soon as I headed out to Tempe Marketplace for the 10th time, I got excited again because I knew I was about to meet someone new and photograph them in a really cool way.
Every time I meet someone under those umbrellas, I knew there was fun to be had and creativity to be explored. Each person brought with them a different set of style and a different way of moving. By the end of it I was asking people just to show me movement and interoperate the umbrellas in their own way. Some people brought props like reflective glasses, funky hats, backpacks or a different kind of footwear to change into. And for 30 minutes, we played under those umbrellas and they got some pretty cool photos out of the experience!