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Sharing experience, advice, and photos to all with the shutterbug.

A tale from way back when…

It was 11am on a Wednesday and I approached a large office building on the 400 block of Sansome Street, surprisingly nervous. I didn’t think I would be nervous, seeing as I was simply meeting with someone to review my portfolio and not get a job. What made me nervous I think was the person’s title. Charli Ornett, the Creative director for Yoga Journal Magazine had told me a few days prior “We are very busy, but if you come by Wednesday at 11am we will see you for a few minutes.” Her tone was that of a very busy woman, who had no time for lowly students like myself. I checked in to the building’s security desk and they directed me to an elevator. Instead of floor buttons this elevator simply had company logos and brands, such as Flickr and other behemoths in the contemporary business world. This did not help. When the 8th floor came, I nervously walked into Suite 850 and was greeted by a rather cluttered waiting area filled with boxes overflowing with magazines. Standing in one corner was a UPS man, who was rather impatiently waiting with a dolly stacked with boxes. There was no receptionist. An older woman walked in and spoke with the UPS man and didn’t even look at me, she simply took him further into the office with his dolly. Another woman walked by, and I caught her attention. “Excuse me,” I said in my most confident tone which probably didn’t sound very confident at all. “I have an Appointment with Charli Ornett, my name is Rob Schultze?” She nodded and kept walking. A few minutes later an older woman with ling black hair and glasses walked in, the kind you would expect to see in a church wearing a Nun’s habit. “Hello Robert,” she said extending her hand quickly, which I promptly shook for fear of taking more of her time. “I’m Charli, you can come in now.” This was accompanied with a warm smile that made me feel much more comfortable. “I’ve asked our art director Ron Escobar to sit in with us, I hope that’s ok.” “Of course, that’s great.” I said, all feelings of comfort once again removed. We sat down in her office and I placed my humble little portfolio on her desk awaiting judgement. Ron entered her office and greeted me with a smile and a quick handshake and the two of them sat down and dove into my book. The first photo, a self portrait stopped them. They were silent. Their eyes traced over the image up and down, left and right. After nearly a minute of unbearable silence they turned the page, “Very good.” Charli said. The next pair of images were photos taken in a yoga studio with a fairly advanced yoga practitioner. I put these in my book specifically for them. Again with the silence. They turned the pages, saying nothing. I was terrified. The rest of my book consisted of portraits and editorial portraits. They spoke very little, until they came to the final image, an image of a girl standing in front of a string of christmas lights. “You’re images are too dark for print.” Charli said very matter-of-factly, and Ron nodded his head. “But they are so moody and full of visual identity, it’s very nice.” My heart rate slowed for the first time since I arrived. They then proceeded to go back through my book and point out what they liked and didn’t like. “I love your compositions, they are very clean.” Charli said. “The lighting is beautiful, but I want to see more detail in the faces, maybe a higher depth of field?” Ron said with a smile. “I want to see more images like this,” Charli said referring to an image of a man staring into the camera standing outside a window on a deck. “It’s very mysterious, and it’s begging for a story to be told.” When they turned back to my yoga images, they were both silent again. “I like this a lot,” Ron said. “The only thing I would do different is have her wearing a lighter shirt, and putting a bit of fill light on her face. It’s very moody, but almost too moody. It’s Yoga, not a Lars Von Trier film.” We all laughed. “It’s very nice to see a student who already has such a strong visual identity,” Charli said. “But if you want to work in magazines you have to start thinking about how your images will be used. Ninety percent of these images are too dark for print, so that’s something you need to work on and think about if you are serious.” With that, Charli and Ron seemed to have some sort of psychic connection that said “We’re done here,” and we all shook hands and I was shone the door. I walked out of their office feeling very accomplished and confident, them having confirmed things I have been working so hard on to achieve. Clean composition, beautiful lighting, a strong visual identity. They seemed very pleased with my work, but insisted that until I brighten up my images a bit that they would probably hire someone else. That being my first meeting with a creative director I felt I could live with that. Especially since now I get to do it every day until the day I die.

My general approach to yoga photography.

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