Posting Grids (Puzzles) on Instagram

13 members of March Fourth Marching Band photographed on a rich red velvet curtain

Who doesn’t love a giant grid post on Instagram? Well, pretty much everyone. It’s impressive to discover one, but the process of posting one can annoy your followers. Is it worth the risk? The jury is still out on that.

I’ll be posting puzzle/grid of the dramatic image above from a shoot a few years back of March Fourth Marching Band’s 10th birthday anniversary. Their next birthday is in just a few days, on (you guessed it) March 4th, at the Crystal Ballroom.

I’ve been experimenting with grid posts, with mixed results. I’m about to post one on my largest account, @andybattportfolio – I’ve never done one on this account, but the image I’ve chosen is particularly suited for the idea. I’ll be posting 6 squares from one image, and something is happening in every single square. That said, it could become confusing when viewers wonder why I’m posting so many images of the same thing.

Captions to the rescue! I plan on letting everyone know what I’m up to, by naming the images 1 of 6, 2 of six, and so on.

What has your experience been with grids, either in posting, or getting all those weird partial pictures in your feed?

Here’s another sample of grid posting that I’ve been testing on our @badchoicesproject IG account. If you aren’t following it, YOU SHOULD BE!!!

https://www.instagram.com/badchoicesproject/

And because I couldn’t resist, here’s an out of focus shot of Andy’s sketch for the shoot. Interesting fact: this is a single shot – no photoshopped heads or bodies added. ALL IN CAMERA!

Musical act March Fourth March Band poses for entertainment photographer Andy Batt
March Fourth is a band anywhere from 10 to 20 musicians and performers. How do you photograph this many people without resorting to using risers?

Carlos The Rollerblader for Portland Monthly

photographed by Andy Batt, December 2018

When a call comes in to photograph someone who titles themselves “Carlos The Rollerblader“, I say yes first, and then find out what the story is second. I’ve done other profile pieces for Portland Monthly Magazine, but Carlos’ portrait is one of my favorites.


First up, Carlos prefers They/Them pronouns. Yes this is new to some people, but it’s not that hard to do a little retraining and get your brain wrapped around the concept. Maybe it’s all the amazing SF that I’ve read over the past few years, but this just makes sense to me. The tricky bit is getting my brain to not need to be actively thinking about it, to get it firmly in place. This has nothing to do with making the image and everything to do with me being a better photographer.

I did some preliminary sketches and lighting tests on this one—the goal was to find a way of creating motion and direction, to find a visual metaphor for Carlos and their work as a stand up comedian and phone advice giver (seriously, Carlos will answer the phone and give you life advice). Also, Carlos is a rollerblader. Like, they perform on rollerblades, on stage. And everywhere else. Carlos has a constant feeling of motion, even when they are standing still.

Carlos arrived on set and we began the collaboration—they were a lot of fun to have in the studio. They also DJ professionally, so I turned over the airplay stream to them and we had killer music during the entire session.

I ended up with a carefully built, sculpted light look, designed to create beautiful tones where it hit and to drop off quickly to deep shadow where it didn’t.

The graphic quality of the light created that visual momentum, carrying you around the contours and lines of their face.

Of course, since it’s my brain we’re working with here, I had a second idea on the backburner—using a combination of a long shutter, carefully set continuous lights and a multipop sequence to add true visual sense of motion + I really wanted to do a full length shot to get those rollerblades in. It’s an old school technique but done with a deliberate intention in mind—it wasn’t about creating meaningless streaks or blur, it was making a connected graphic, echoing the design ideas in the portraits.

cheers
-andy

Washington Post Magazine: Greg Glassman Cover

photographed by Andy Batt

It’s a good day when the photo editor from the Washington Post Magazine calls to ask me to create a COVER IMAGE for the publication. Crossfit founder Greg Glassman works in Portland. The Post wanted a punchy, vibrant image to accompany a story about Greg taking on “big soda”. This is Greg’s campaign to get soda completely out of the school system.

My instinct was to pitch a “reverse Godzilla” idea. I’d have Greg standing in ‘Soda City’ as a heroic giant, ignoring the attacks from soda tanks and soda planes. It was a ‘punchy’ metaphor, nothing subtle about it, but it felt fun and eye catching.

I remember watching Godzilla and King Kong movies on after-school TV.

In monster movies, I sometimes rooted for the people. It was their city being attacked and their friends that were being stomped on, but secretly, I was always were rooting for the monster.

My editor green lit my idea right away, so we went directly to the store to buy hundreds and hundreds of cans and bottles of soda. We spent nearly $750 in pop.

I wanted to avoid CGI, and to have some rough spots where the boxes were worn. Imperfections in the materials and build techniques are very wabi sabi.

I decided an very ‘real’ look to our set—Not sloppy, just hand made. I intentionally left the fishing line on the pop fighters, the flare on the boxes, and the ‘dents’ in the 12 pack boxes from the cans—all of that stuff added some needed grit to the image.

On the day of the shoot, Greg decided he didn’t want to leave his office.

It was the day of the shoot, and we had everything nailed to the floor, lit, and ready to shoot. About 30 minutes before our shoot was to start, we got word that Greg had decided that he wouldn’t break away from his office across the river. We were, however, invited to come over to his place and get our shot. A very very fast scramble ensued!

We quickly documented the camera placement, distances, angles, and lighting direction, packed the Xterra and whipped across the river. We built a mobile studio in Greg’s driveway, and recreated our lighting and camera setup on the fly, so that I could composite the portrait with our studio shot.

Shooting Greg Glassman in his driveway in NE Portland
Shooting in Greg Glassman’s driveway in NE Portland

I’m pleased with the result—it’s solid idea that comes together nicely, and there’s nothing obvious about the composite. It’s punchy, striking and eye catching. Mission accomplished.

-andy batt