Chris Verene’s new book, “Family” on display at Stone Alley Books & Collectibles
Last weekend I had the honor of collaborating with Chris Verene, one of the top documentary photographers working today. Chris really needs no introduction; he is a documentary photographer who is best known for his multi-decade long project which follows the lives of his family and friends in Galesburg, Illinois. His work has been shown in museums both nationally and around the globe, and he is one of only a handful of photographers in recent memory to successfully bridge the gap between the fine art and commercial worlds. He’s also one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet and was easily one of the most dynamic producers I have worked with to date.
Got a call late Friday afternoon from Tom Foley of Foley Photo Studio (Tom is a talented and accomplished photographer in his own right and also one helluva nice guy!) asking if I would be interested in shooting motion for a friend of his…Chris Verene. He would have done it (and no doubt done an amazing job, too!) if it were not for a schedule conflict. I jumped at the opportunity to work with top tier talent and agreed. Chris called me later that night and explained the project details; he’s working on a documentary about his life and needed an extra camera rolling during his book tour. He would be signing copies of his latest book, aptly titled, “Family” the following day at Stone Alley Books & Collectibles on historic Seminary Street. He needed HD footage as well as audio to record interactions between him and patrons as well as conversations with several family members and subjects of his works who would be in attendance.
No problem! Knowing the built-in mic on my Pentax K-7 wouldn’t offer the reach we needed, I set out to find a suitable mic or recorder for the job. Dave Plunk over at Music Makers set me up with the versatile Zoom H1 audio recorder. Perfect, except there was no way to mount this to my hot shoe…or was there? When I got back to the studio, I looked around and what I could use to mount the H1 to my K-7. Gaffer tape? No way, this isn’t amateur hour. I scanned the equipment drawer and staring back at me was the little Joby GorillaPod I use with my smaller rigs. It had a quick release plate! Excellent! That would connect the H1 to my GorillaPod, but what about a hot shoe? Then I pulled out a Calumet Hot Shoe-to-PC Connector. There was the missing link. The H1 with the GorillaPod QR plate slid snugly into the Calumet adapter, which fit my hot shoe like a glove.
Zoom H1, Joby QR Plate and Calumet Hot Shoe-to-PC adapter
Zoom H1 mounted on a Pentax K-7 (back)
Zoom H1 mounted on a Pentax K-7 (front)
We shot for two hours both inside the bookstore and out on the street. The K-7 worked well under pressure, thanks in no small part to the quality DA 21mm Limited lens on the front. The H1 also took its lumps with grace, recording several heartwarming stories told by Chris Verene’s mother. Everything was transferred from camera and recorder on location, and I made several backup copies of the data later back at my studio. Most importantly, Chris was happy with the job and that’s really all that matters at the end of the day.
Timothy Gray and Chris Verene