Seattle, Washington-based photographer Chona Kasinger is a fan of the off-beat and obscure, and will always make the time to explore lesser-known niche communities. She found one such community quite by chance when she spotted the Pacific North West Regional Yo-yo Contest on a local calendar. She knew right away that this was her next photo series.
Driven by an “active and insatiable” curiosity, Chona showed up at the event with a camera in hand and with no idea what to expect.
As the yo-yos started whizzing away, she didn’t find herself fighting many other photographers for prime shooting positions – beyond the occasional parent filming on a tablet. Though the event coverage was limited, the skill on display was in great supply.
Chona didn’t do much in the way of staging photos. Though she periodically asked some people to repeat tricks or show off for the camera, she primarily let the events of the day unfold before her, keeping a finger on the shutter and an eye out for interesting moments.
Because the convention center lighting was low, she took advantage of flash both to freeze the yoyos in motion and brighten up the images.
Her patience with the camera paid off, and she now has some unique images of a community of young people showing off their hard work and dedication.
What I wasn’t expecting was the super outward and intense display of focus. There was something that felt really personal about photographing this series.
Chona really enjoyed the experience of interacting with this niche community and bringing their story to light through her photos.
There was something really pure and special about these frozen moments of kids 110% focused on yo-yoing.
Chona plans to photograph the national championships in Chicago later this summer. She has also recently traveled to St. Petersburg, Florida to photograph the Florida State Yo-yo Competition and made the trip to New York to spend an afternoon with the New York Yo-yo Club.
See more of Chona’s work on her website.
In Bardstown, KY:
Cincinnati-based photographer Matthew Allen had the unique opportunity of using his camera for a noble cause, helping the Guthrie Opportunity (GO) Center in Nelson County, Kentucky with their promotional and fundraising efforts.
The GO Center is a non-profit organization serving individuals with developmental disadvantages through life skills training and employment opportunities. The Center’s goal is to ensure these individuals have a supportive community, allowing them to integrate into society.
A former client of Matthew’s recommended him to the organization, and the Center contacted him to shoot a video along with supplemental stills for their outreach efforts. The video would showcase the Center’s services and testimonials from current participants, highlighting the merits of the various programs.
For Matthew, the project was emotionally and creatively rewarding. After brainstorming the concept for the video and stills with the GO Center, Matthew was given carte blanch to handle the assignment to his liking.
The only difficulty with this project was that I was the photographer, videographer, and art director. My client relied on me to come up with the idea and overall feel of the shoot (quick cuts, enjoyment, upbeat and informational with the voiceovers). It was complete creative control, which I enjoy, but if it didn’t come together, the whole project would have failed.
And without much trouble, the project did come together seamlessly. Matthew’s planning and coordination with the GO Center staff came in handy for the two-day shoot. Armed with a meticulous shot list, he wheeled around from one area of the Center to the other, capturing as much footage as he could. Along with the employees, some of the Center’s participants were also camera-friendly, making it easier to get the required footage of the various operations.
The client was extremely happy with the final video and photos, utilizing them for the organization’s promotional and fundraising efforts. Matthew was glad to be part of a project serving the interests of a community and hopes to continue working with the Center annually, perhaps helping their Bourbon and Bubbles Gala fundraiser.
This is a great program that really does help both the people in it and the community it serves. The program needs a bigger voice and should reach a broader audience, and I am happy that I had a part in that.
See more of Matthew’s work on his website.
In New York:
Dan Bigelow was originally commissioned by Interbrand in 2016 to shoot industrial documentary images for a PPG Industries image library at several facilities worldwide. During the shoot, Dan and creative director Alan Lum started discussing the possibility of creating a series of employee portraits to go along with the documentary images.
Dan quickly devised a lighting and shooting setup that was portable so that he could have the same light on his subjects regardless of where they were shot. He also made sure to keep the exposure and framing of the subjects consistent for every portrait.
Touring many large factories, warehouses, and research facilities gave an industrial reportage photographer like Dan a lot of amazing options. When they arrived at each location, Dan and Alan set out in search of interesting areas to use as backgrounds.
We were looking for well-lit areas that conveyed the flavor of the locations without being too specific, and that had attractive colors and patterns and receding lines that would complement the portraits.
Dan would shoot reportage images around the predetermined spots while his assistants set up the lighting. He then borrowed several PPG employees, one at a time, to pose for the portraits.
After 4 days of shooting at locations in Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur, Dan had taken over 60 portraits. PPG and Interbrand produced a video shortly thereafter that integrated many of Dan’s still portraits.
Dan shot the still portraits in this sequence, from 0:14-0:23
This was one of the best assignments of my career. It had so many excellent aspects: travel, shooting in visually and experientially fascinating industrial locations, great collaboration with a creative client, and relative creative freedom to shoot locations and people as we wanted.
PPG continues to use these portraits to this day on its website and other materials. They were most recently featured in PPG’s 2017 annual report.
See more of Dan’s work on his website.