Work and Play

Trying a different angle for our Aperture 3 shoot in 2009.

I was a pretty serious tom boy as a kid. I played soccer at recess, wore Umbro shorts and Nike t-shirts, and had my hair in an eternal ponytail.

I didn't start wearing dresses regularly until I was about 19 and still don't remember to put on make-up everyday. I didn't know my athleticism and distaste for uncomfortable clothing was abnormal until I hit third grade. Suddenly gender became a thing and I was somehow in the middle.

Then, one day on the playground, I noticed another girl sitting on a bench in Umbro shorts and a ponytail. She was in my class, but I hadn't talked to her yet (I was also deathly shy). She was eating Goldfish - my favorite snack - so I took the opportunity to offer a trade:

“I'll give you half my Nutter Butter for half your Goldfish,” I said softly, offering my Little Debbie delight.

She agreed to the trade and a friendship was born.

Twenty-two years later, Sierra Poske is still one of my best friends.

We bonded in elementary school because we were both athletes. I played every sport fairly well. She played one exceptionally well - tennis. We once matched against each other in a tennis tournament. She beat me 6-0, 6-1. I'm still proud of the one game I won.

We survived middle school awkwardness and high school bad decisions together.

Seniors in high school. I'm on the far left, Sierra is the red-head on the right.

Seniors in high school. I'm on the far left, Sierra is the red-head on the right.

In 2005 she went off to Wake Forest on a tennis scholarship while I went to the University of Florida on an academic one.

Then, in the spring of 2009 just after we had both graduated from college, Bill called me with a potential shoot. Apple was gearing up to release Aperture 3, the third iteration of their photo archiving software. This version, unlike it's predecessors, would incorporate video and audio into the workflow, which was becoming increasingly important as DSLR cameras began to include video functions. 

Apple needed material to include in the demo and tutorial material, and for the in-box brochure. They were hoping for a couple options, and at least one that included a sport. 

Our problem was that the summer of 2009 was already pretty full - we had a month in Australia, two weeks in Germany and two weeks in Italy already blocked out. Whatever we did, we needed to do it soon and hopefully close to home. Bill was struggling to come up with affordable options.

“I know a pretty good tennis player,” I offered.

When you tell a collegiate tennis player to aim for the camera, they hit the camera.

Two weeks later we were shooting. Luckily, we live in Florida, so finding a tennis court and a partner to hit balls to her was easy.

Disclaimer: never play tennis on a court with this many loose balls. You will sprain and ankle. For this shot we spread tennis balls all around the court and had Sierra stay in the same position for each shot. Though the balls aren't a realistic representation of a tennis practice, they are graphically pleasing.

We captured most of the images at the tennis courts at the ATP Tour Headquarters, shot weightlifting in her parent's garage, an interview at my parent's house (complete with homemade brownies) and morning jogs on the beach.

Walking down the beach after a morning jog. Sierra jogged. I did not.

As shoots go, it was a pretty great one. It's not often I get to mix work and play so seamlessly. We literally laughed our way through the three-day shoot. Working long hours under a hot Florida sun just seemed easier with one of my oldest friends in front of the camera.

The early stages of DSLR video. A rare Nikkor 300mm f/2 on a Nikon D90 - the first DSLR to capture video - on a Manfrotto tripod with a fluid head.

Sierra has been on my mind this week (hence this blog). This weekend she's coming back to town - she's currently living in Washington, D.C. after stints in Azerbaijan with the Peace Corps and Vermont for graduate school - for her bachelorette party.

We've been together through a lot over the years. There have been a lot of tears - happy and sad ones (though more happy) - and a lot of laughs.

This weekend will be much the same, celebrating what is still to come.