Photos and Pizza

A little while ago, I got an email from Jacque. She needed a “decent, professional photo” for a guest post she had submitted to a therapy blog.

Now I don’t think of myself as a “people photographer” but I thought that I could do an okay job. I have no studio lights or flash, much less a studio, and Jacque didn’t want a studio photo anyway, so we arranged to meet in her backyard.

I consulted with Steve, the photography expert in our baboon community, and he gave me some tips and suggestions, several of which confirmed things I had learned through photography classes. I made a list, using Steve’s tips and my own ideas:

  • Shoot in burst mode (in order to capture fleeting expressions)
  • Background should be contrasting, dark, and uninteresting
  • Jacque should be far enough away from background so that it is out of focus
  • Subject does not have to smile – she can look thoughtful, serious, intelligent
  • Subject should be in the shade, never the sun
  • Bring a stepstool since I am short and Jacque is not and a portrait pointing up at the face is not very flattering
  • Focus on the EYES
  • Meter the brightest part of the face and then set f/stop and shutter manually so there are not blown out highlights
  • In each new area where I shoot, make the first shot be of a gray card so I can easily get the white balance perfect

When I woke up the morning of our “date,” I was thrilled to see that it was an overcast day. Bright sunshine is the enemy of good outdoor portraits and a cloudy day would make it easier to get a good shot.

When I shot the portraits, I made a few mistakes.There were some stray rays of sunshine (that I hadn’t noticed while shooting)  on her neck in some of them that wrecked an otherwise good picture. I had her too close to the background on some shots, so there were distracting details behind her. But I ended up with enough good shots for her to choose one with which she was happy. And I enjoyed the process, which mostly had to do with how easygoing and nice Jacque is and a little with the realization that I that I could do this.

A week later, Jacque treated me to lunch at Black Sheep Pizza. We ordered the Oyster Mushroom, Smoked Mozzarella, Rosemary & Garlic Pizza and, man, was that good. Even better was a chance to sit and talk. I feel that I had the better part of the deal: I got to shoot pictures of a beautiful person and then enjoy a meal with her.

When have you done a favor for somebody and felt that you benefited more than the person you helped?

28 thoughts on “Photos and Pizza”

    1. Thank you and welcome to the trail.

      There is one tip I didn’t write down, because I didn’t need the reminder: shoot portraits with a moderate telephoto. Never use a short focal length lens.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. It is fun to read about your meeting with Jacque. You describe it well. So you found Jacque easy to be with? In her line of work, being nice to be with is surely an asset.

    I’m sorry I couldn’t have been there. You two are among my favorite people.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. But, Steve, if you had been there, you would have been the photographer and then I would have missed out on the pizza.



  2. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    It was so nice that Little Jail Bird was furloughed from prison to photograph me. (It took 17 pages of paperwork by me to get her out for the day! OK, maybe not) Edith did a great job and the shots I had to choose from are great. My employer had been nagging me to get a photo, so it is up on that site, too. This way you can sample LJB’s fine work.

    Here is one shot on the website of the agency where I work:

    The blog post I wrote for a professional site, with a different head shot you can find here:

    I had been dodging getting a professional photo for years. The Level 6 blog busted me. I could not be published there if I did not submit a picture. At least with Edith doing this it was not traumatic and I actually LIKED the pictures.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. PS, thanks to Edith for writing the post. I insisted we take the pictures of us taking pictures, then when I sat down to write about it, I went blank–nothing to say.

      If you notice in the picture of me taking a picture with my phone, there is a signature on my phone. I took tim’s spare ticket to David Sedaris’ reading at Common Good Books back in June. The audiobook was on my phone, so I pulled it up to show him I really had purchased it and he signed my phone in the stead of a paper book.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I am also not a fan of having my photo taken. When I got married I sweet talked a theater buddy into taking my wedding photos because I knew I would be more comfortable on the lens side of the camera if he were on the other side pushing the button.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Like you, Anna, I hate having my picture taken. In what can only be called gross hypocrisy, I have photographed every Baboon I’ve met (except the head Baboon, Dale). As I value my friendships with those in this group, I treasure those images. I could sense that Catherine, Anna and Jacque were not eager to be photographed, but I grabbed quick shots and then put the camera away.

        Liked by 4 people

  3. It’s a cliche, but mentoring a former peer at work may have done more for me than her (she might say otherwise). When I left the team we both worked on a few years ago she asked if I would be willing to be a mentor/advisor/person to meet with regularly to talk about career and work things. I was happy to do it because she is a smart human and a darn cool person. Helping to guide someone else through waters you have chartered already or figuring out how to ask the right questions if you haven’t yet chartered those waters certainly taught me a lot about myself, how I work through problems, what I’m good at, and where my blind spots are. She and I have gotten to be good friends along the way – which is another nice bonus. I’m not always sure that I am a “senior enough” person to mentor someone, but I have learned I have enough experience, regardless of my title, to know I have insights and knowledge that is worth sharing.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Lovely post! After 30+ years of a somewhat cool relationship with Husband’s stepmother, I think I have finally warmed up our relationship with cookies. She is pretty homebound now with Husband’s father, as he succumbs to Alzheimers, as well as coping with her own broken hip. Since December I have been baking goodies and mailing them to her every 6 weeks or so. She has no time or energy to bake, and really appreciates having goodies for in the house. We can’t be in Colorado to help, but the cookies are a big hit and she truly appreciates them.

    Liked by 7 people

  5. Doesn’t qualify as doing someone a favor, but being a Big Brother has possibly been more rewarding for me than for my Little Brothers. Almost all Bigs I’ve talked to echo the same sentiment–we feel like we get more from the relationships than do the Littles.

    But then I get huge and repeated thanks and reassurances from my now-adult first Little Brother that he’d be nowhere near where he is today, life-wise, without having had me as a Big for 11+ years.

    Let’s just call being a Big Brother or Sister a synergistic relationship.One I highly recommend to any adult with a few hours per month to spare for a child who needs a steady, calming influence in their life.

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 7 people

  6. Working with Habitat for Humanity continues to be gratifying. Sometimes I never even meet the family. A “thank you” isn’t required or expected by me.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. I have been occasionally driving our friend Walken to out-of-town dr. appointments. I invariably come away from the day energized by the camaraderie between us, from listening to stories of the mutual people in our lives (on and off the planet), and a refreshing time away from my daily routine. Sometimes I also get treated to lunch, but that’s optional in my book.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Cool! For a few months I was able to provide transportation and escort for a dialysis patient who was from Somalia. He was a brilliant man. Spoke Arabic, English, Italian and Russian. An airline pilot. He taught me a lot about Islam and the horrible tribalism among Somalis that they brought with them into the Somali Diaspora.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Somewhat OT: Tomorrow my daughter Molly flies back to Portland to be with a friend who is getting married. The friend’s mother drinks heavily on such occasions. The event will need deft management to avoid veering into chaos and embarrassment. The bride counts on Molly to keep things upbeat.

    Molly would prefer to stay in Michigan. This weekend she and her family moved into the home they plan to rent for the next several years. Half their belongings are in boxes and the new home is in total disarray. This is a terrible weekend to be away from home and family.

    But she will honor her word and go back for the wedding. Friends in need on special days are more important than houses. I hope there are some rewards awaiting my daughter as she tries to help her friend on this complicated weekend.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. My dad was big in to volunteering, and loved driving people around to their appointments and errands. He got continued life interest and social interaction.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Years ago when I first met and became friends with my neighbor Helen, her mother Etna, was living with her. Helen worked full time as a nurse, and Etna, being in her nineties and somewhat frail, couldn’t be left alone. During daytime hours when Helen was a work, she hired a nursing assistant to be at the house to make sure Etna was given her medications, was fed, had company and stayed out of harms way.

    Three to four times a year Helen would take a vacation. At such times she would recruit her friends to stay with Etna, and a schedule of mostly eight hour shifts would be set up. Because I lived the closest to their house, I often ended up taking more than one shift, and I’d make a point of stopping in every afternoon to see if everything was going OK. This way I got to meet many of Helen’s friends, many of whom had known each other forty or more years. It’s a pretty tight knit group of friends, and not one I would have been likely to break into. But because I got to know each of them individually during my visits and when we’d trade off shifts, soon I was invited to all kinds of gatherings of these folks. My circle of friends was expanded with lots of interesting people with whom I share a multitude of interests.

    Liked by 5 people

  11. Love the photos, especially the photo of the photographer.

    I’ve found I don’t have a lot to contribute in the great scheme of things. I probably gain more from most interactions than I give to them.

    Occasionally I’ve offered to help divide perennials in a friend’s garden, and come home with valuable plant divisions. I often walk about and spot the evidence – that hydrangea came from so-and-so’s yard. that hosta from another. Fringe benefits.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. As much volunteering as you do, Linda, there’s no way your various constituents don’t benefit from your quiet grace. I’m very glad to live in a community where there are lot of unsung heroes like you.

      Liked by 1 person

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