Dairy Farm & Rancher portraits, Tennessee

At 81 years old you wouldn’t expect to hear that Gerald Hitchcock is still working his ranch. But ask him anything thing related to his farm and he’ll smile and answer proudly.

Gerald is actually my step-dad’s father. So, this blog is a bit more personal since I don’t typically post a lot of family related things here. However the fact that he’s 81 and still gets up every day to work his ranch is just an awesome story in itself.
The portrait I shot of him is quite simple, really.
“I have the ranch cuz I had the tractor (bulldozer)” he told me when I asked about the large piece of equipment. He pointed out that over the years it was the the tractor that made the money to allow him to get the farm and feed the family. Mrs. Hitchcock, his wife who still hosts family gatherings at the holidays cooking tons of food for everyone, even told me “Oh that’ll be good (gettin a photo with the bulldozer). That tractor has been the backbone of our economy (for the family).”

I wanted to keep the image simple and straight forward. And while I originally thought of just having a standard shot with his ranch/property in the background, it quickly became obvious how integral this piece of machinery was to the family.


As I’ve gotten older and progressed in my career as a photographer since my college days, I’ve realized more and more how important personal images are to me. And, with that, the importance of photos of my family. I’ve since started a personal project of creating portraits of my family members, starting with my own grandparents. I will probably share those in a later post. But, when talking to my step-dad about his parents, I knew his father would be an awesome portrait to take simply because he’s still working and doesn’t seem as old as he is when you talk to him.


Jim Grissom is the nephew of Gerald Hitchcock (above).
Jim was born and raised in Tennessee; he owns and operates Mountain Farm Dairy in Van Buren County.

I met up with Jim on a hot afternoon when he was busy working to repair one of the farm’s tractors. He was covered in dirt and laughing at the idea of me wanting to take his portrait. But, that was exactly what I was hoping to capture… him in his element.

Dairy farming is a hard job. A 15-16 hour work day, seven days a week is something that most people would never do. Jim and his family are proud farmers though – he and his sons have degrees in Agriculture and all returned to the farm after completing school.

Jim, while calm in these shots, was actually laughing quite a bit at my choice of location for the photos. But, being a very bright day I needed him in the shade so I could capture a nice shot of his face and eyes.

I’ve always had a lot of respect for farmers. I think it’s one of the most under-appreciated jobs in the US. So meeting people that are proud of what they do like Jim and Gerald – family or not – is humbling. So when you start whining about your office being too hot/cold, or complain that you have to put in an hour of overtime one day… remember that there are people out there working twice as hard. And they’re proud to do it.

I’ll be continuing this series over the next couple weeks. So check back those of you who are enjoying these portraits.

Also coming up will be more modeling photos. So, I may shift over to a different extreme in photography and be posting beach model photos in the next week. Haha. We’ll see…

World Poker Tour: Bay 101, San Jose

About three weeks ago I photographed the Bay 101 tournament for the World Poker Tour in San Jose, Calif.

I was contacted by the WPT about freelancing for them at one of their tournaments that they needed images from. This was an awesome opportunity and I was thrilled to be offered the chance to work with them. So, I made the trip up to the Bay Area and spent Friday evening – and many more hours into the morning – shooting the Final Table.

I’ve seen poker tournaments on TV, and know a couple people who have played professionally at various levels. So while it wasn’t a completely new experience being around television cameras, professional talent, etc., working with this major brand was a new setting for myself.
The staff of the WPT was wonderful though – everyone I came in contact with that evening was very helpful and everyone pretty much seemed to know I was there for the evening replacing their normal photographer and they all made sure I was able to do and shoot everything I needed that evening.

So, to the staff of the WPT, Thank you! I had an amazing time and you all were great!
Hopefully I get the chance to work with the WPT in the future; until then I hope you guys enjoy the images. I’m sharing a small collection of some of my favorite shots from the evening.

Final Table, before the start of the match.

The Royal Flush Girls

Getting started for the night

Vivek Rajkumar took 4th – winning $295,800

Casey McCarrel took 5th place, $221,800

Mike “The Mouth” Matusow took 3rd place, $369,800

Kimberly Lansing

Kimberly was extremely friendly made sure to give me enough time to get a nice shot of her in the booth.

Occasionally there were some moments where everyone was laughing and had some great expressions.

Moments like this were much more interesting though. Alan Sternberg ended up taking 1st place, winning $1,039,000 that night. But there were a few points that he lost some sizable hands.

Equally stressful were some major losses by Vivek. This was shortly after he lost a few hundred thousand dollar hands.

Getting ready for the final two.

The stare-downs were pretty intense.

Steven Kelly ended up taking 2nd place, $595,300.

Waiting on the flop.

Alan wins, and in congratulated by Vince Van Patten, Tony Dunst, and the Royal Flush Girls

The winning hand.

Group shot of everyone.

 

Really awesome experience working with the WPT that evening. I spent some time chatting with various people behind the scenes, got to meet a few members of the WPT talent, and also chatted with some of the Royal Flush Girls who were all surprisingly friendly (I say because a lot of models I’ve met are not, haha).

I look forward to the next time I get the chance to work with a great group of people like this.

Coming up for me is a trip out to Tennessee for the holiday weekend – so check back soon for new additions to my portrait series!

My Hollywood showcase, with RAW Artists

THANK YOU EVERYONE!

Last night was my showcase in Hollywood, at Playhouse with RAW Artists. As many of you know, I was contacted by RAW Artists a little over a month ago. They had come across my photography and were interested in having me showcase with them. Well, that event was last night and the support I received from everyone was overwhelming.

I was really touched by how many people came out to support me and my work – and even the goofy shot of five of my subjects and myself above is awesome!

So often I tend to look at my work as just photos.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe in my work and stand my imagery. I’m confident in my abilities, but I still will look at my images as something that my subjects allow me to very easily create with them.

What I’m trying to say, is that often I forget that the portraits I’ve created of people mean more to those individuals than I realize.  And nearly every person from my collection in last nights showcase proved that by showing up excited to see their photo on the wall, give me a hug, congratulate me on my work, and thank me for allowing them to be a part of it.

I’m surprised I didn’t get more emotional, but as I go through these photos and see what a great time everyone had talking and meeting one another, it compounds the amount of love there really was last night. Again, Thank You!

A couple things that stand out, before I get to a huge assortment of photos…
My cousin drove up from San Diego to be there even though he had to work at 4a the next day, thank you Gianni!
My Mom and step-dad flew down last minute from the Bay Area.
Adam, who turned into my poster-boy for this whole event, came out on his 25th birthday to be there.
Lauren, my best girl friend here in LA, celebrated her birthday last night with me at the show AND took tons of photos for me because she knew I wouldn’t have time.

Everyone else that attended, texted, called, emailed, posted on facebook, etc. Thank you all for the support!

Please check out the rest of the images after the break, I’ll have a lot more to say about the event and people that attended.

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Mark Fightshark Miller, Shelby Jones, and Rita von Riot

Mark Fightshark Miller, Shelby Jones, Rita von Riot.
Three new amazing additions to my ongoing portrait series and the last additions to my upcoming showcase this Thursday!

 

Mark Fightshark Miller has had one of the most inspiring stories behind any of my portraits so far.
Heavyweight kickboxer Mark Miller is the only person to get back into the ring after open heart surgery. Here, check out this video about his story..
Go ahead, I’ll wait.

The opportunity to meet and photograph Mark was actually offered to me by Shelby – a model-turned-fighter who I was talking to about photographing for my series as well. But I’ll get to her story in a moment.
After Shelby told me a bit about Mark, what he’d gone through, and then reading more about him online, I knew his was a story I had to have in my series.
The idea for his portrait was simple. The image above is exactly what I envisioned too. Mark, pointing to his scar, with an expression that said “Yep. I came back from THIS.”
Bad. Ass.

This was the very first image I took of Mark.
Honestly, I love this one as well because I think for this brief second, his personality and humor came through in the shot. He did this pose and expression on his own and it’s a funny, creepy, and still powerful image. Admit it, you would NEVER get in the ring with him.

Shelby Jones was someone I was introduced to through a mutual friend of ours. I was told by our friend Lisa “You gotta shoot Shelby, John. She’s hot. Has bright red hair and tattoos. She’d be amazing with your work.”
Sweet, redheads intimidate the crap out of me. Probably because I’ve never worked with any. Ever.

But, Shelby and I started chatting and were discussing shooting “at some point”. Then, when I mentioned my portrait series lacking women, she volunteered herself for it. And after seeing some of the images I’d created for the series, said she would definitely be down to be in it. She also volunteered Mark (above) for it as well.

The funny thing was that I didn’t realize Shelby was now training to fight until I explained more of my series and the concept of creating portraits of people and a side of their life. Shelby’s background includes modeling, burlesque, dance, etc. I honestly thought that alone would be a cool concept.

But come on now… How awesome is it that she fights? Anyone who says otherwise is lying.

I played around with a few variations of this image. Ultimately I went with green, to contrast her bright red hair.
But seriously the concept of “hot girl who is also a fighter” will be cool to anyone… so I wasn’t worried about backgrounds at all.

The last shot we did was with some blood and scrapes makeup (Thank you to Samantha Ward our MUA!)
This was an idea that Shelby had. I didn’t want her to look completely beat up, so we kept it light. Because honestly you never want an image that looks like you lost… You want something that looks like you got knocked around a little bit.

Last, and certainly not least, is my dual-portrait of Rita von Riot.
Some of you who follow my work might remember Rita from the K&N Filters Calendar that I photographed a little over a year ago. Rita and I talked about shooting again last Spring, but timing just never worked out for us. Then she became pregnant with her daughter Rylee! So, of course, that kept us from shooting as well! Haha!

I was hugely flattered when I received an email a week ago from Rita who said that she’d been following my portrait series and loved all the images that were coming from it. She said she would love to be a part of it and had an idea for a mirror-image type shot that showed both sides of her life. One half would be the plain mommy-side of her life, and the other half a dolled-up model side.

I loved the idea and was also very interested in the challenge of creating such an image. I knew certain factors had to remain constant for the photo, but that there would also need to be major hair and makeup changes. Rita used her favorite MUA, Maria B. Muah, who was also used for the K&N shoot.

Adding Rylee into the photo was something I didn’t plan for or expect. And while it made things a little more difficult because Rita had to adjust her body a bit to hold her daughter, honestly, it really is what made the shot great. Plus it helped that Rylee was completely mesmerized by my light.

For those curious, this is a composite of five total images, and over 20 layers. It took quite a while to edit, but, was entirely worth it.

To give you an idea, here’s the Mom-photo from that afternoon.

 

All three are awesome new additions to my series and each one of them a great story, too!

This Thursday, at Playhouse Hollywood, I’m showcasing these photos along with a lot more of my portrait series. Hopefully everyone that is around can make it out and see my work on display! More info on that here: http://www.rawartists.org/hollywood/unearthed/?artistid=10284

You can also see higher resolution versions of these in my portfolio here: http://www.johnremus.com/photography/portraits/

Thanks for reading! Hope to see you at the show!!