This is me with Vincent Laforet, who, in my opinion, quite possibly did more last year to create buzz and hype about the new 5D Mark II than Canon. This is not a slam on Canon; it is more a testament to Vincent’s skills in creating an incredible video, called Reverie, (in 72 hours) while having a pre-production 5D on loan from Canon. Vincent is a Pulitzer Prize Winning Photographer and one of Canon’s “Explorers of Light.”
Having watched Reverie a number of times and gazed at the beauty that the new 5D is capable of creating, I was insanely delighted to read my e-mail from the Austin Center for Photography, that informed me that the ASMP and Austin Community College Photography Programwere hosting Vincent Laforet for one evening on the ACC campus– just a few miles from my house in north Austin. To have someone of his calibre make a stop in Austin was simply incredible and definitly not to be missed.
I drove down to the campus, with my assistant, (the lady in focus with her finger raised telling me to shush :))
to hear first-hand accounts about Vincents photography career, and to hear about his experiences in making Reverie.
When we entered the packed studio at ACC, there were no seats left and it was almost completely dark becuse the lecture had already started. Thankfully, once my eyes had adjusted to the dark, I could make out a bench that the masses had missed and so we got to avoid sitting on the floor.
With the presentation over, there were alot of questions from the local photographers & students for Vincent.
Once the event was completely over, I had a chance to speak with Vincent, and I gave him the opportunity to have his picture taken with me. ;)
Little did I know . . . that was not the end of the story. During my conversation with Vincent–which was really just me telling him that he was mad inspiring with what he did with the camera–he mentioned that the following day he would be speaking down at UT, and his talk would be focused more on photography than on the video aspect of his work.
The following day, I made my way down to a UT lecture hall and slipped into my seat moments before this next slice of Vincent’s career was served to eager minds.
Included in the lineup from his video portfolio were Reveire,
the work shot in Hawaii with surfer Jamie O’Brien, and footage from Vincents work with Acroback, a performance design firm skilled at many disciplines including the craft of Parkour. Elements of the work with Acroback included showing the 5d shooting video through a Canon 800mm 5.6
For my $, this was even more inspiring than the work Vincent did with the new 5D. The images he showed included those where he had photographed cities, sporting events, and nature; while strapped into helicopters, or hanging out the sides of buildings like the Empire State Building, ((Vincent’s wife is forbidden to read this part :) sometimes without a harness).
The results spoke for themselves, and when I viewed them on the big screen in the lecture hall, they caused me to turn to my friend, Steve, and voice my doubt that my camera was even real anymore.
It was so inspiring, I wanted to both leave to shoot something immediately, and throw in the towel all at the same time. Much to the relief of my wife, and my bank, the desire to shoot outweighed the desire to quit ;)
Of the moments he shared from his 20 year career, I remember (hopefully accurately) the following:
“I could scream but no-one will hear me. . . . ” This was an element from a story about getting stuck going up the ladder, in the spindle, at the top of the Empire State Building, because of a lens that he was carrying in a pocket.
“It’s always good to make friends. . . . ” He told of the time he got to shoot the Towers of Light, in NY City, because of a friendship with one of the architects. He shot from a platform that was specifically built inside one of the towers for him. Vincent also mentioned that this shot was the first image after 911 that the NY times published that was positive and reflected hope.
“I don’t wake up with epiphanies. . . . ” Boredom spurs his creativity. :)
“Trump asked me if he could fire me. . . . ” After photographing Donald Trump looking down on his new golf course from his helicopter, Donald asked Vincent if he could fire him. Once Donald clarified what this meant, Vincent was posed in a scene of Donald Trump firing him on the golf course, which resulted in some brilliant images for Vincent’s personal collection.
“Never give up, even when you think you will never be hired again. . . . ” (no, not related to the Donald incident. :))Vincent was covering a Superbowl event for a newspaper and, because it rained and rained and rained and the lens kept getting wet and the teams actually played for such a short time, Vincent thought he actually walked away from the event with nothing. Thankfully, when he checked through everything on his computer, he discovered a completely fabulous image that captured the winning touchdown in the rain.
” . . . more swimming pools per capita in Phoenix, AZ, than anywhere in the world.” When Vincent went flying to try to get an aerial shot of people out in their back yards, enjoying their pools, he only discovered one pool with occupants after flying for close to two hours.
” . . . Berkley, CA,–more bicycles than anywhere in the world.” Maybe I took this down incorrectly; my brain seems to want to shout that Beijing would get this honor. :)
” . . . sports photography is all about the background.” This can be proven by looking at his amazing work at sporting events, including the Olympics. Instead of the subject getting lost by their surroundings, they stand out as if placed there for Vincent.
When the presentation ended, the lights came on and it was time for questions from the UT students and visitors.
And now . . . some 5D/Reveire related info plucked from different moments throughout the evening.
Apparently, Vincent wasn’t originally on the list to get to test drive the pre-production 5D. I won’t go into the whole story, but let’s just say that a rescheduled lunch appointment, a visit to the Canon offices, some quick thinking on his part, persistence, and a little begging won him a 72 hour gift from heaven that opened new doors for Vincent to display his creativity and expertise.
Once the Reverie video was posted online, without e-mailing anyone, it had 1/2 million hits in 4 hours and 2 million within the week. When it went on the Canon site, it got more traffic in 2 days than the entire site had been used to in a year, rendering quite the bill from Akamai.
After the lecture was over, Vincent shared he was eager to head back to NY, since he had just gotten news that his wife was even closer to giving birth to their second child. God bless with the new child, Vincent–I look forward to the day when our paths cross again.