CIY superstart

Other than the occasional wedding, I haven’t gotten to launch myself fully into ‘journalism mode’ for a long time. My favorite work is probably always going to be staging cinematic concept shots (especially really ridiculous ones).

But… there’s something different that you take away from documenting an event that you don’t get when you’re the one directing. It’s fun. Instead of controlling the action, you’re freezing moments that are already in motion; it’s much more about timing and I love the challenge.

So I got super excited when CIY (Christ in Youth) asked me to drive to Tulsa to document their preteen event superstart. I’d worked with CIY before on head & group shots for their staff, so I’d been wanting to see one of their actual events for awhile.

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(staff photo ‘outtakes’…)

Now you gotta understand. A CIY event is no small production. These guys do NOT mess around (well, ok, sometimes they do, but not when it counts)- their teams work like crazy all year brainstorming, creating elaborate sets, working with professional entertainers, planning out a show that will WOW and inspire thousands of kids in each town it’s in.

The crazy thing is, this is just ONE of 6+ experiences that CIY creates each year, for all ages of kids (middle school through high school). And the cool thing is… these guys really love what they do. A lot. And the passion shows.

I didn’t fully realize that until Matt, the production manager for the touring event, turned to me toward the end of the first night (with the biggest smile I’ve seen from him), and said,

‘this is my favorite part. When you can hear them all singing at the same time.’ 

That was a bigger smile on his face than when I used to serve him a venti, double-blended, no whip mocha frappucino every morning back in my Starbucks days. THAT’S saying something. Because he really loves that drink (yes, he’s even pictured with it if you scroll back up).

This was fun. Hope you enjoy a few of my favorite shots… narrowed down from the 2400+ images I took that weekend… 🙂

This was the view of the parking lot, BEFORE it got full. I’ve never seen. so many. church vans. In my entire life…
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worship was led by Yancy, a beautiful singer who knows how to bring the energy.

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CIY teamed up with Real Encounter, a BMX stunt/ministry group. These guys were super fun to watch. Look closely to see the water bottle being knocked off of Drew’s head in the shot below this one.

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the best part for me is getting to tell a fuller story. I didn’t just shoot the performances… I also got to hang out at incredible pizza and on the bus to and from, to show a more in-depth view of the whole experience from the kids’ point of view.

My first time at incredible pizza… it is a tidal wave of sensations, and their cookie pizza could easily be an addiction if this place were in my town.
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I also grabbed a couple of unsuspecting ‘models’ to show off some of CIY’s superstart goodies. Shirts, hats, sunglasses, lanyards, etc…. product/fashion shots on the fly.

These guys were super cute and had no problem hamming it up on the spot.
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candid moment on the bus. Such a great moment that it looks posed, but I swear it isn’t.midwest commercial & event photographer mark n photography ciy superstart event photos_0021b

A few more at the event…

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I’ll end it with my personal favorite. Mr Drew was the MC for the event (as well as the Superstart program director) and I have to give him mad props for holding the stage so well through both laughs and some very emotional moments.

This is him, jumping into a push of the giant ‘something amazing’ button.
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CIY [arches their collective eyebrow at you]

Once again, I get the privilege of working with CIY [Christ in Youth], an organization that has nearly singlehandedly changed my perception of the dreaded word, ‘headshot’.

I used to dread doing these terrible things, these HEADSHOTS- something boring you associate with, you know, lots of hair lights & soft focus or something. But then I learned that they could be, well, fun. And they could look modern, and crisp, and awesome.

And the outtakes when I work with CIY… oh man. Shooting a large group of people whose job is to organize and create large stage events for thousands of highschoolers across the nation- well, they’ve got a goofy bone or two amongst the group.

We started with, of course, the shots that I was there to get- some really sharp, simple images of each employee, like this:

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Usually I’d opt to either go for white seamless (pure white) background, or a solid color; but in this case, we (‘we’ being Austin & I, the graphic designer on board with CIY, pictured above left) decided to leave the setup with one light on the background only, so that there would be a fun fade-into-white and then back-out-again at the bottom. I really dig it.

some group shots, the first of which features the president of the company, Andy Hansen:

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Always some great faces between takes.

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And some fun profile shots for them to use in a unique way in one of the books they put out.

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And, as usual, some folks brought their own ‘props’.

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But now, my favorite part. It’s always fun to have a ‘theme’ on these kind of shoots to loosen everyone up. This time, I told each person to arch their eyebrow in one of the pictures.

Some people couldn’t do it, some people did it almost too well, but regardless, the collection of faces from the shoot is priceless when you put them all together. So enjoy…

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why can’t headshots be fun?

headshots.

*shiver*.

Well, that used to be my response to the idea of shooting

boring/corporate/traditional/evenly lit/no different than any other blahhhhhhhh…

HEADSHOTS.

But here lately, my perception of headshots has changed quite a bit.

First let me back up and say ‘commercial’ work did not used to be my thing.  For those who aren’t sure what that means- it doesn’t mean I’m shooting pictures for a commercial, but rather taking pictures for other businesses (typically). That can take a variety of forms… it means the band pictures I took for a local rock-worship group, it means the joplin-IS-cool pictures I’ve been doing for the joplin convention & visitors’ bureau, it means the photographs I’ve taken for magazine features- and sometimes, yes, it means headshots.

Headshots are something I have to accept, because now commercial kind of IS one of my things.

Again, I used to say ‘oh that’s just not my thing’. But I think it was really that I just didn’t know how to reconcile the idea of headshots- typically dreaded by subjects and generally boring- with my philosophy for style. As in, there should be some. I began to think about it differently when I did these shots for a friend/client that just got his real estate license and needed some pictures for his new business cards: 

Thought they turned out pretty classy. Nothing terribly innovative, but it’s not boring either… plus, he’s a handsome devil, right?

Then when my graphic designer friend Austin- a very talented fella with an amazing eye for whats’ modern and what’s cool- asked if  I’d do some not-so-traditional headshots for local ministry organization CIY (christ in youth) I got excited, especially when he gave me some ideas on the ‘look’ they wanted for these. 

Austin’s idea was something along the lines of ‘let’s NOT take boring, standard headshots! Let’s take cool ones instead!’

‘oh. huh. yeah. well sure. why not? Yeah!

flippin’ YEAH!!’

As a result of that input from Austin, experience in general, and always trying to figure out how to be different and fun in all that I shoot, we ended up with the following batch of pictures; a nice blend of goofy and serious that the subjects had fun taking and I think everyone can have fun looking at. Not that these are anything terribly innovative either…but it’s new for me and makes me feel a whole lot better about business staff pictures/headshots.

Sorry for the rambles. Have to spill my photographic guts sometimes. 🙂

oh yeah. we did group shots too…

we had a great idea to crowd everyone on one corner of the couch and have it look like it’s tipping over (requiring a couple of guys to lift the other end). It didn’t really work out…  [cameo by Jordan Howerton Band’s own Matt Johnson]

don’t give up. we did this instead.

yep. we took serious ones too.