Portraits of Vermonters by Caleb Kenna
It’s always great to see a series of photographs which tell a story. Whether it’s photojournalism from a war-torn population to a series of fashion looks in an exotic locale, groups of photos with unifying themes make us feel and think differently than a single image can.
Caleb Kenna knows this, and presents a wonderful cross-section of Vermont residents. Known for their free-thinking, tenacity, self-reliance, and Yankee wit, the subjects Kenna has captured are more varied than famous son’s Robert Frost’s time, but are just as at home in the beautiful state they call their own. Here are some of his thoughts on this series.
Ironically, my portrait series on Vermonters started across the Connecticut River in New Hampshire. I got a great assignment from Dartmouth College to photograph six students for an alumni brochure. A few months before I bought an Einstein 640 flash and Vagabond battery and had been slow putting them to good use. Up until that point I mostly used Nikon Speedlights. I wanted to improve my lighting skills and be able to shoot in a wider variety of situations. I had used PocketWizards and was excited about using multiple lights. The Dartmouth shoots went well and proved a good challenge. I photographed on a narrow balcony atop a library clock tower, inside a dark theater and outside in blowing snow and freezing temperatures. Each time the PocketWizards performed well.
I have always enjoyed photographing strangers, but would sometimes avoid it because of less than optimal natural light. With my new lighting setup, I could make portraits anytime, creating a consistent and pleasing light combined with whatever ambient light was there. My first Vermonter portraits were made in the middle of frozen Lake Bomoseen on a frigid February day. Lugging my gear across the slippery ice, I set up and hoped the sandbag would prevent my lights from blowing away in the wind. Everything worked! My project was underway! Now it’s spring and I’ve made more portraits of Vermonters. My goal is to capture everyday Vermonters in their natural environments, from farm fields to city streets, young and old, native and new Vermonters, all lighted in a similar way to highlight their collective sense of place and individual personalities.
Caleb Kenna uses Nikon D800 and D600 cameras, Nikon Speedlights, PocketWizard FlexTT5 transceivers, MiniTT1 transmitters, and a PowerMC2 receiver with the Paul C. Buff Einstein 640WS Strobe and Vagabond Mini Lithium Portable Battery. See more of Caleb Kenna’s work at his site, blog, and his new blog.
All images and quotes in this post are used with permission and ©Caleb Kenna, all rights reserved; story is ©PocketWizard. Please respect and support photographers’ rights. Feel free to link to this blog post, but please do not replicate or repost elsewhere without written permission.