Fire Photography and Craftsmanship

 

Approach all your work with a plan in mind.  Lloyd Mitchell

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In the fire service, farming and photography industry we rely on craftsmanship. While on vacation in North Carolina I took a series of portraits of a farmer and tractor operator. Ever since I can remember growing up, tractors were part of my life.

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I watched my grandfather wheel, disc and plant seeds with precious accuracy. He was on autopilot while plowing the field for planting, every line straight, composed in his mind and a vision on the field. Photography is a vision of the mind coming to life.

The farmer and I started talking about his work and he said “I get excited about my job because this job is all about craft.” It’s not piecemeal but a composition that includes everything from before the planting to after the planting and harvesting.

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The fire service and photography are related to this craft idea. You can photograph, or ‘plant’ things, and four out of five times those crops or images won’t turn out the way you wanted. That one image is a keeper or yields a portfolio image. You have to know what you are working with whether it is farming equipment, camera settings or a tool off the rig.

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You have to know how to frame the image and do it on the fly and you have to be ready for whatever comes your way. If you know your craft you are better off than someone who fumbles around and misses a frame that was critical to tactical operations. It is like the old saying I know, “you can do four things wrong on the job and have to remember what you did right in a specific situation.”

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You should know what image you want to cultivate and plant beforehand. With a game plan in mind you should adjust your camera setting accordingly. The more you do this, the more confident you will become. The images you make may yield a portfolio photo.

Your photos are like your crops, they are an example of how well you prepared yourself for your incident, how well you handled your craftsmanship of camera knowledge.

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LloydMitchellPhotoLloyd Mitchell is a freelance photographer whose photos of firefighters at work began as a change of pace. “I started taking photography classes at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden at the age of 15. The camp counselor thought I was good. The rest is history. I have worked with my community newspaper in Brooklyn for the last two summers. During the summer of my sophomore year, I wanted to work on a project different from things I had worked on during the school year. So I started to photograph firefighters. I would take portraits of them after jobs. I would drop the photos off to them. I didn’t expect the project to last two more summers. The project has been of fun. I’ve met a lot of amazing and down to earth people. My purpose of the project was I want people to understand what they go through on a daily tour. I have more of an artistic feeling to my images. I want my photos to tell an overall story. I don’t feel scared behind the lens. These people aren’t scared to run into a burning building.” You can follow Lloyd’s work here and at his photography website.

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