Marvin Eagle, Virtuoso

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Marvin Eagle

I’ve always liked photographing fellow artists, regardless of their art.

A few years ago I embarked on a project to photograph musicians. I contacted the Valley Symphony orchestra with a proposal to photograph all the principal musicians, including the conductor, and feature them in a traveling show. I thought they would jump at the prospect — boy was I mistaken.

You would not believe the static I got. I was so discouraged after dealing with the board I almost abandoned the whole project. I mean — I was offering it for free — it wouldn’t cost them a penny, plus they would receive tons of publicity as the show traveled around the Rio Grande Valley.

I decided that I love photographing musicians too much to be thwarted by a bunch of bureaucrats so I contacted each musician privately. They were ecstatic to be receiving so much attention. Just goes to show you that you never know how people will react to what you may think is a great idea.

Anyway, this is Marvin  Eagle. At the time he was the principal violinist. I invited him to my studio where we had a great time together I created many images, but this one was my favorite.

I did twelve people in all and the Brownsville museum of fine art hosted the show. It got tons of good publicity and really helped me get my name established as a fine art photographer. My photograph of the conductor Carl Seal placed in the top ten best portraits in the world under the rules governing PPA’s (Professional Photographers of America) International print competition.

 

 

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Nostalgia

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NostalgiaMemories are funny things. When I saw this cabinet in a local antique store I was immediately transported back to my childhood, remembering our dining room at home. There was an old buffet by the window and my mother always had it tastefully decorated with a bouquet of flowers. I thought about all of the good times we had together as a family and was filled with nostalgia. That’s what was going through my mind as I tripped the shutter on my camera.

I’m not sure why a happy memory made me want to add a bit of melancholy to the scene, but I decided on a B&W toned presentation. The word “nostalgia” is a combination of Greek words that mean “homecoming” and “ache/pain” so maybe it’s appropriate. I’m a very sentimental person and it reflects in much of my work.

Paradise Cove

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This is one of a series of images I did for a local land developer; he wanted to show the beauty of this parcel of land before they started to develop it for a high end sub-division. It is a narrow strip of land bordering the Laguna Madre.

I made several trips to the site looking for the best light. This was my favorite shot, which was used for the cover of a pre-development, early bird buying brochure. The power of this photograph helped sell out all the lots within a year.

Pole Vaulter

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Pole Vault

I made this photograph a few years ago to be used on the cover of a local power company’s Annual Report (corporate and commercial photography is my day job).

We were using a local high school pole vaulter for the shot, and it took a lot of on-the-ground coordination to get it set up. We needed permission from his parents and the school, which insisted that we take all kinds of safety precautions, including having paramedics on site — which, by the way, they don’t do during practice or meets!

At one point I thought the client would call it off because of all the added expense, but it turned out fine.

I was a long way away from the action. We set up the shot so the sun was backlighting the vaulter. At the point where I was going to capture the image I set up two Norman 400b flash units hooked to an infrared triggering device that also triggered the camera. When the athlete broke through the beam both flash and camera were triggered. We did seven takes so we could choose the body position and expression we wanted.

 

Working Out

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WEIGHTSI’ve seen plenty of terrific workout pictures, but I’ve always found shooting in a gym to be quite challenging. For this photo, I had to light both the model and the equipment and control the ambient lighting in the gym in order to create a series of pictures to be used in a brochure.

First I met with the client to discuss the areas that she wanted to include; then we had to arrange for models. Because the gym clients were attractive and excited to participate, we were able to enlist their help for a small fee and an 8×10 copy of any photos they appeared in.

For this shot, I used a Nikon D810 with lighting from Balcar 3200 WS Powerpaks. One light covered the model and put the highlight on the floor; two additional lights in medium-sized soft boxes were used to illuminate the equipment.

This one shot took about one and a half hours to set up, test and shoot. The entire shoot took two days.

Going Home: Dad’s Toolshed

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I was born and raised in central Michigan right in the heart of farming country. My dad owned his farm for 70 years until he died; then it went to my brother and finally to me after my brother’s passing.

During one visit — while the crops were growing and through harvest time — I made a lot of images in and around the farm buildings and the fields. This one was from inside an old toolshed. Dad would use it to work on the machinery during winter months (most farmers did all of their own repair work). He had all kinds of tools in there.

I can’t really put my finger on why I like this image so much, but every time I look at it I’m instantly transported back to when I was around ten years old and helping my dad. Those were really good days.

Healthcare Worker w/Patient

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home-heath-care-clientOne of the benefits of making a living as a commercial photographer is the variety of subjects one gets to shoot.

I did this photograph for a local home health care company. The idea was to show how completely relaxed the little girl is with the health care professional, and how the girl’s mother felt happy with the worker’s approach and bedside manner; facial expressions were critical for the success of the image.

The client and his art director were both on the set. My assistant and I set up the shot and tethered the camera to a computer so that the client and his art director (who were both on set) could have instant visual feedback.

Before bringing in the talent (who were an actual patient, her mother and a real home health care worker) we worked through all the lighting and composition variables. By planning out all the shots I want to capture in advanced I can concentrate fully on the expressions of the models once we have them in place.

Three lights were used: one to provide the overall ambience, one for the mother and one for the nurse and patient in the foreground. The shoot took about three hours: two and a half hours of prep and setup and 30 minutes of actual shooting time.