Portrait Project – Steve Davis (RFB)

When I saw that Strobist was going to be running another photography Boot Camp, I knew I had to get involved. I participated in the last one while I was travelling, but did not manage to complete it. I was not very good with lighting, and did not have a bag-o-tricks for when it gets tough. This year though, I’m ready! The brief consisted of shooting someone in your community who is inspirational, valuable and available for a portrait. The photo needed to tell us about the person. The photo had to serve a purpose that was greater than “check out my lighting”.

It didn’t take long for me to email Steve (Jas’ Dad) to ask (very nicely) if he would mind sitting for a photo or two. Steve volunteers a lot in the community, so we had to choose one aspect to depict in the image. He suggested his work with the Rural Fire Brigade, and I instantly knew what I wanted to shoot.

Over the weekend, Jas and I ventured out to his place to throw together some lunch, before heading down to the base to shoot. I met two of the other Brigade members who were playing with one of the trucks, and they didn’t have any issues with us shooting for a little bit. My first test image was made at 3.14pm, and my final image was taken at 3.44pm – we were in and out. I have also decided to make this series part of my Portrait Project – I hope you enjoy the photos and the story.

Steve is a volunteer in the Rural Fire Brigade. He has been for the last 18 years or so (bookkeeping was not a big part of the organisation back then, so he can not recall exactly how long he has served). He has had a number of different positions in the brigade over the years and currently serves as a fire fighter. Previously, he has volunteered his services as 3rd Officer for a couple of years, and 1st Officer (the boss!) for a total of about 5 years.

Steve is the longest serving member of the local brigade, and is in fact one of only three (of 25+) members that live in the brigades local catchment area. He has a wealth of knowledge to offer the newer members, and carries the status of ‘elder statesman’ in the brigade.

(The second image was taken just after I suggested that we should make an annual calendar)

I asked Steve approximately how many fires/rescues he had been called out to over the years – and he initially replied with “You kidding?”. The Rural Brigade is not called into action too often, but you can almost bet Steve will be the first one to the truck, as he has done for the last 18 years. Steve is a great man, a wonderful friend and a huge asset in our community. I hope I have been able to capture some of that in this image.

The Brigade serves a huge purpose in our community, it’s a real shame that some people are so disrespectful and artistically-handicapped and feel the need to throw their hideous ‘tags’ up on the shed.

The challenge for this shoot was to use only battery-powered speedlights. This meant that I could not blast Steve with a heap of light, and control every photon in the image. Therefore, this is how I lit it:
SB80dx camera right ~1/8
SB900 in 28″ apollo camera right ~1/2 (slightly off axis)
Lights triggered with 1 Cybersync + optical slave
EXIF still attached – overcast day required overpowering, so I used a hard/soft combo from camera right to light Steve, and the ambient lit the truck.

I hope you enjoyed this post. If you would like to see some of my recent landscapes, check them out here.

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