Photographing the usual suspects

9 comments on Photographing the usual suspects
1 minute

I can think of three good reasons to photograph the same subject over and over again. First, you just like the subject. Second, you’re trying to find new ways to see the subject, to stretch yourself as a photographer. Third, you test a lot of cameras and film stocks and just need reliable subjects to shoot.

I photograph the Old Navy store near my home a lot because of reasons one and three. Its a big, straightforward subject with bold colors. I use it to show me a little about how a camera-lens-film combination renders color, tonality, and sharpness.

Other usual-suspect subjects are the sign and storefront of Black Dog Books, a bookstore in Zionsville; the Whitestown McDonald’s Welcome sign with the restaurant in the background; the building in my neighborhood where we all get our mail; and my car parked in the driveway, with the street I live on stretching out in the distance behind it.

Red, White, and Blue
Polaroid SX-70, Polaroid Color SX-70 Film, 2020
Old Navy
Pentax IQZoom 170SL, Fujicolor 200, 2020
Old Navy
Minolta Hi-Matic AF2, Fujicolor 200, 2020
Old Navy
Olympus Trip 35, Ferrania P30 Alpha, LegacyPro L110 Dilution H (1+63), 2020
Old Navy
Olympus OM-4T, 50mm f/1.8 Zuiko Auto-S, Fujicolor 200, 2020
Old Navy
Minolta Maxxum HTsi, 35-80mm f/4-5.6 Maxxum AF Zoom, Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400, 2021
Old Navy
Yashica TL Electro X, 50mm f/1.7 Auto Yahinon-DX, Kodak Max 400 @ EI 200, 2021
Old Navy
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ5, 2023
Strip mall
Canon PowerShot A495, 2023
Old Navy
Kodak Brownie Starmatic, Kodak Ektar 100, 2023

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9 responses to “Photographing the usual suspects”

  1. adventurepdx Avatar

    I usually photograph all the Studebakers down the street. Evidently there’s a guy who really likes Studebakers, as there’s always about a half-dozen in front of the house and on the street. They vary a little bit, but a few have never seemed to move.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      As a fellow from South Bend, I say: righteous!

  2. Julie Avatar

    I’ve been waiting for a double whammy such as this from you. A good look at camera & film perspective/performance! Well done and I love the Kodak Starmatic shot. I’ve been wondering what film I should use in it and that’s exactly the look I’m going for. Schweeet!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m glad I inspired you on the Starmatic! Such a fun camera.

  3. Dan Cluley Avatar
    Dan Cluley

    My usual test shot is the local courthouse, or more specifically its clock tower. There is enough fine detail on the clock faces to check sharpness & focus and there are clocks facing each direction so you can pick the same or different lighting no matter what time of day.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      That’s a good idea for a Usual Suspect subject!

  4. Steve Mitchell Avatar

    I had a couple of favourite compositions at our previous house that were great for testing a lens or camera – lots of foliage detail in the garden and high contrast that will show up any weakness! Here I also have a couple of favourites, but they are not quite as good for testing a camera!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Maybe part of the joy of the new place is finding those good test subjects.

      1. Steve Mitchell Avatar

        Indeed it is – one of them I am photographing every month on the fist at about the same time to create a record of the seasons as a project! You can look forward to seeing that sometime in the new year :)

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