*"Building a Picture…" 14• June•2011

Ken and Jeannie Veltz in the backseat of their 1982 Mercedes Benz 240D outside their Cold Spring, NY home on Tuesday, June 14, 2011. The 60 year-old couple, both established musicians and married for 36 years, and now grandparents, are taking off on a cross-country tour in the car, reminiscing their days as a touring band. CHET GORDON/Times Herald-Record

A lot times you go into an assignment (usually a portrait) with a specific idea or a few finished images already in your mind, and somehow without warning circumstances beyond your control as a photographer can ruin even the best laid plans in an instant. Fortunately, this wasn’t the case yesterday in Cold Spring, NY where I’d gotten an assignment to photograph a longtime married couple and established musicians, who now as grandparents were about to embark on a cross-country tour on singing dates, just as they’d done years ago in their career. When I read the assignment ahead of time, and realized that the word people had an idea that photographing them in or around their old Mercedes diesel might be nice, I knew there would be a few opportunities for some decent images. One factor would come into play immediately though – the subjects attitude and willingness to understand what I had in mind by setting up two camera strobes on stands outside the car – one aimed into a shoot-thru umbrella, and posing them in the back seat of the sedan. Finally, the real kicker was utilizing my Nikon fisheye lens, which I occasionally use as a remote for overall views of stadiums and / or landscapes, and unique views in sports but rarely, if ever for a formal portrait. This all changed when I crawled into the front passenger seat, twisted around and was able to make a few images, encourage them to change their poses a little and even embrace. Arriving when the interview was still going on enabled me to know them a little better, which in turn allowed me to ask questions about their career, etc. when I actually began shooting. Besides all this, I was trying to keep my shooting time down to a few minutes, because there still were some serious rain clouds hovering over the area, so I know I needed a few usable images as quickly as possible, just in case we were hit with a downpour. I remember assuring Ken and Jeannie they were great and the story / pictures weren’t so much about the car, as it was about them. It was just an all-around fun shoot, and we all managed to spend about a half hour at the reporter’s apt. nearby to have coffee and swap stories on our careers too. *(Remember though to always be aware of all those little things you can’t control in doing this work and to just plain have fun when you can…) ~cg.

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