This past week my friend Jo McAvany asked me if I would be willing to help her with using off-camera flash in daylight. I like controlled studio lighting, but I’ll admit that balancing flash lighting in the bright daylight is much more fun.
She texted me saying she had asked her friend Heather to be our subject. My question was “where do you want to do this”. I think I held my breath at that moment hoping she wouldn’t suggest wandering around in the woods to photograph our young model. If she had I probably would have feigned an attack of the flu or something just to get out of spending a boring day doing what every beginning photographer seems to be doing now days. However, Jo said, “I’d like to go downtown.” My response was, “Great lets pose your friend in the alleys”.
I am not sure if it was because of the shopkeepers or random artists, but the alleyways in downtown Kamloops are damn colourful. There are murals, wildly painted back entrances and large brightly coloured signs that fill complete walls. One might expect to find trash, discarded store goods and rusting garbage bins. But nope, it was as if someone had said, “Hey, there might be a photographer or two that want photograph our alleys so lets make ‘em nice.”
We went from coloured wall to coloured wall, posing our ever-patient subject in doorways, against brightly decorated enclosures and behind fenced walkways. I think this was Heather’s first time posing for photographers, or at least having two cameras pointed at her. And yes, she had to endure my constant discourse about balancing light, shadows, exposure and off-camera flash.
Sunday was a good choice. Other than the cold breezy November day, it was quite pleasant. Well, except when the wind caught the umbrella that was attached to the flash and stand and sent everything crashing to the ground.
There was no traffic zooming down the ally and other than some fellows sitting out of the wind behind a building and a street cleaning machine quickly scrubbing by, we had the alley to ourselves.
The three of us ambled up and down the alleys. There were so many places that demanded Heather to pose for us in front of. We even tried adding her into one of the large murals that looked like a walkway into an Italian villa. There was a small green door that someone had painted, and both Jo and Heather agreed that it would be like Alice in Wonderland if Heather reached down for the doorknob. We could have spent the day wandering the alleys photographing Heather, but eventually the cold crept in and we decided it was time to finish photo session talking and warming up at a coffee shop.
We had a good day. We discovered a new place where we can do photography and we all worked together to produce some interesting photographs. Heather is leaving town for a job in the fast paced coastal city of Vancouver, and our photos will surely give her some great memories of the city she has been living in for some time now.
I think Jo and I might invite a few photographers and models to join us another time to do a bit more exploring around the back alleys.