There’s an extraordinary creative tool at my disposal which I simply call “my backlot” for lack of a better description. Like the traditional backlots scattered around greater Los Angeles, mine can be camera-ready in an instant. There are certain similarities between my backlot and the film industry’s backlots, specifically that they cost a lot of money to build.
The big difference with my backlot is that I didn’t pay to build it and there’s never a cost associated for my personal photography. Also, my backlot consists of real homes and business that are owned and occupied by friends and acquaintances that don’t mind me dropping by from time to time for a brief photography session.
All of this happened gradually as I met people and just asked on numerous occasions if I might have permission to drop by once in a while. Even though most said yes, I never forgot that I was a guest and that I was getting something very valuable. This means that after every session I follow up with prints or some other kind of token of my appreciation.
And when paying opportunities arise, I make sure that my backlot is going to be presented as a viable option and that the owners will get a market advertising rate for the use of their property.
More often than not, I use this tool for personal exploration. Once in a while I’ll get extra lucky and use both the property and an owner or occupant for an experiment as I did with the photograph above, which is just a five minute walk from my front door.
It’s impossible to underestimate having the ability to instantly execute a creative urge when it arises.
The kind people who give me this opportunity are forever in my debt.
About the author: I am Stephen Kennedy, an experienced photographer specializing in creating environmental on-location portraits and corporate photo libraries for blue chip companies.