I was looking at Paolo Pellegrin's portrait series of Hollywood stars with my colleague Gary Cosby, a guy I admire a lot, both as a person and as a photographer. We were trying to figure out the type of lighting and how Pellegrin used it. Looking at good stuff like that can really bring you down when you consider how far you're from that level of photographic quality, but it can also inspire you and push you to try new things.
Right after our discussion, I went out to photograph Macey Warren, 18, and Jerry Reed, 86, the youngest and oldest Red Cross volunteers in the Morgan-Lawrence County chapter. While I was driving to the Red Cross office, I thought, "Well, they're not Hollywood stars, but this is a portrait and I'm going to push myself to do something new today." So, I completely changed what I had in mind and looked around the Red Cross office to see what I could do. The final results are a far cry from Pellegrin's stuff, obviously. Also, one thing is what you visualize and another what you actually get, but I'm glad I tried. As Gary told me once, if you don't push yourself and try something different in each of our more than frequent portrait situations, you're dead...
Volunteer Jerry Reed, 86, is reflected in a Norman Rockwell poster at the Red Cross office in Decatur.
Volunteer Macy Warren, 18, outside the Red Cross office in Decatur.