Aug 022011

There is a lot of emphasis on specialization in today’s photographic marketplace. Some folks shoot only food, others aim their lens exclusively at animals, a great many focus on weddings, and so on. So when I encounter a the increasingly rare species of ‘Photographicus Generalis’ in the wild kingdom of imaging, I am fascinated. So it is with the lovely and talented Crystal Rolfe.

As with most artists, Crystal’s photographic pursuits mirror her personal interests: music, burlesque, pinup/glamour, weddings/events, pet portraits and more. Thing is, she’s good at all of it. File her under ‘Generalis’. Oddly enough, I first encountered Crystal a few years ago (before I even owned a camera) as a subject in her photos. Musicians are among the many people she shoots regularly, and at the time I was playing with a band that crossed her path from time to time. Since then I have gotten to know her a little more and have shot some concerts alongside her. I’ve always liked the distinctive style of her event photography and once I started looking deeper into her work I decided to include her in this STS project.

Of course, that raised the question of how I wanted to shoot her session. As with some of the other subjects in the series, I needed to get to know Crystal a little better in order to determine the direction of the shoot. So several weeks ago we chatted about some ideas, and when I asked if she had any pets she rattled off a list of animals that made me wonder if she moonlighted as a zookeeper. She owns dogs, cats, a tarantula, birds, and she just happened to be building a chicken coop outside.

And just like that, I had an angle to work.

We shot last night’s session in about an hour at her beautiful, restored brick home in a historic part of the city. As usual, we chatted a bit while snapping photos and I learned a lot about my subject. For example, she raised Arachne (the tarantula, naturally) from a penny-sized baby over a decade ago. She named the two dogs we photographed “Ester The Molester and Bender The Offender”. Bender likes to be carried over Crystal’s arm as a purse sometimes, which really freaks out the people at the vet clinic when she walks in. Her macaw, Keegan, likes to be held. Her African grey parrot does not (he will snap your finger off). She raises chickens (one of which is named Phyllis Diller) in her backyard coop. She has some really cool tattoos (including one of Bender). She works as a pet stylist. She has ridden in a biplane. She likes Bon Iver.

Sheesh. I get tired just hearing about all the stuff she is involved in. I need a nap. While I go recharge, enjoy the photos!

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