The Writings

Mission South Shoot


This might be an embarrassing confession, but when I was younger - like, 7 or 8 years old - I desperately wanted to be in a band. Entertaining the idea, my dad let me use his tape recorder to lay down some tracks. I'm not sure where those cassettes ended up, but hopefully they're in a dusty corner of his home and not at some house party, being played on repeat by some douche-alicious frat boys for kicks.

Anyway, the point is that I've always had an affinity for musicians and that rock lifestyle. As I type this on a 27" iMac dressed in Hugh & Crye clothing while previously putting around in a Mini Cooper, perhaps that "lifestyle" escaped me slightly. However, the fact remains that I will always have a soft spot for artists and folks trying to make it their way.

Enter Mission South. Well, hold up. Enter a mutual friend, Cara. Cara had put out a mention on Twitter about a band she knows who were looking for photographers. The guys have been friends since the fourth grade, and after spending their college years apart, remained in contact and formed a band. I've been approached to shoot bands before, but at risk of sounding pretentious and dickish, I wasn't a fan of those bands' music upon listening. As a result, I hadn't shot a lot of the local acts around DC. So it makes sense that, when being approached by yet another upstart band, I was initially skeptical. Imagine my surprise when I put on Migration, Vol. 1! "There is absolutely NO WAY that sound is coming from three twenty-somethings," I exclaimed to myself (which occurs more frequently than you'd think). I was all on board with these guys and became a big Mission South evangelist.


Having shot numerous concerts of theirs, I was excited when they approached Noe and me for a portrait shoot. To their (and perhaps the world's) surprise, it was the first time I was working with Noe. It's always interesting to see how another photographer works, like watching my buddy Andrew Markowitz putting in work in a recent trip to NYC, and I always try to pick up some new things. In this go around, Noe was picking up some great angles and had a vision of her own, which I happily stepped out of the way so I could enjoy an ice cream sundae.


The guys are a riot, always joking around and having fun - perfect for any kind of shoot! I had the idea to shoot the gentlemen at a diner of some kind, which made things hilarious when Dan (lead singer + guitarist) contacted me about his idea... which was to shoot at a local diner. Great minds...

For the shoot, I had my strobe ready with a 32" softbox so I could light them, but once I set foot inside the diner, I noticed an immediate problem: it was WAY TOO SMALL to set up a softbox in the dining room! Ruh roh. Not a problem, as Noe and I came equipped with speedlights and Gary Fong Lightspheres because we're bosses like that. It lights up the subjects evenly and the portability is perfect when you're on the move. Being inside and shooting at dusk, I had my Canon 7D set to ISO 800, f/7.1 - 8, and a 1/125th shutter speed, sticking with the 24-70 f/2.8 II USM lens. Upon peeking at Noe's results, I'm still trying to figure out how my images turned out so differently, but I suppose that's the beauty of photography and art, right?


We got a lot of hilarious bloopers, as you can see above, but along with those, we got a lot of fantastic shots, as well. Shooting portraits is already tricky enough, getting your subject to pose and hoping you don't catch only blinks in your frames; shooting multiple subjects is even more difficult! Whenever I had two of the guys looking legit for the photo op, there would always be ONE making a face or blinking. However, the resulting photos were pretty hilarious... I couldn't resist posting above.

They wanted a laid back, relaxed feel to the photos in this go around, so the best part about the bandmates being friends is that it didn't take any effort getting them to chat and crack jokes with one another, creating genuine images. If you have even read just one of my blog posts, you know how much I LOATHE posed shots. So this was definitely a dream situation to be in. Having been to countless shows of theirs, Noe and I already had an establish repoire with them, making the entire session very chill and perfect for my shooting style.

My only regret is not getting more varied images and individual portraits, though Noe definitely capitalized on that and got those shots for herself. However, I still like how they came out, and because I envisioned these shots being taken as if they were relaxing for a moment while on the road during their tour, I wanted an instant camera/Polaroid feel. That notion explains why I developed and processed the images the way I did, and while I'm a large advocate for black and whites, I just think these shots look SO MUCH BETTER in color. So, they're mostly in color. Deal with it.

I don't think I ever officially thanked Cara for hooking us up and making the connection, so THANK YOU, CARA, FOR HOOKING US UP AND MAKING THE CONNECTION! It's most definitely been a thrilling adventure to watch these kids making it happen and playing amazing music.

And now, enjoy the photos from our recent session!

Big thanks to the Tastee Diner in Bethesda - specifically Frank for his hospitality and April for taking care of us while we ate and shot - and the gents of Mission South. I had a blast shooting and I'm looking forward to photographing more of their events! And if you don't know of Mission South, stop being a loser and treat yourself to the awesome albums they've put out! You won't be disappointed. It's better than my mixtapes. Trust me.

Until next time,

- Patrick