Wick Communications

When there are no assignments

In Photography on 28 Nov 2014 at 11:25 am


I got a text from Half Moon Bay Review photographer Dean Coppola one morning last week, just as I was getting in:

Hey Clay, I didn’t see anything on the schedule until 1 p.m. I’m gonna poke around for a (feature.) I’m in Montara now, about to move south.

That isn’t exactly what an editor wants to see in his inbox. Ideally, we have a better plan than that. That is why we meet each week – to assure that we all have productive work to do throughout the week.

But hey, it happens. What’s more, wild art has its place. We run photos pretty much every week just because they are amazing. So there are worse things than talented photographers trawling for the perfect shot.

Many photographers will tell you that riding around looking for something, anything, to shoot is one of Dante’s inner rings of hell. While we all hear of just stumbling onto something great, it isn’t likely. Unless you take an educated guess. …

The photo above is one of three wonderful features that Dean shot that day. I was so taken with them that I asked him how he goes about his work when we let him down and he’s left to wander around town looking for features. Here are his tips:

Let there be light. It sounds incredible to me, but Dean says that he envisioned that shot you see with this post before he got there. It was mid-morning and he thought the sun would be low enough to get the light streaming through the those trees in just that effect. (That is the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve and its grove of cypress trees is described by many as magical.) I’ve heard him heading out right at dusk on a certain kind of evening hoping to catch an incredible sunset with a silhouetted surfer in the foreground.

Go where the people are. In our neck of the woods that might mean the beach on a pretty day. It might mean the downtown shopping district on Black Friday. It might mean an area school on a Thursday morning. Landscapes can be wonderful, but newspaper art, by and large, is a whole lot more compelling when there are people in the shot. Dean cautions, “When you get there you have to be prepared to wait for something to happen.”

File away certain scenes. In his travels around town, Dean is subconsciously scouting for photo backdrops. For instance, there is a makeshift skateboard ramp outside of town and he says he knows one day the sun will be just right to capture the scene he sees in his mind’s eye.

A lot of this is instinctive. Ask Kobe Bryant why he sometimes pulls up 10 feet from the basket for a short jumper. He knows why; explaining why he didn’t drive all the way to the basket can be tricky, however. Same with photographers. Experience teaches the best how to be in the right spot at the right time.



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