Robert Redfield's Blog

From Sonoma With Love

For the 15th Sonoma International Film Festival, the delightful Kevin McNeely (exec director) and Claudia Mendoza-Carruth (programming/PR) asked me to photograph/film this year's festival while also lending a hand to managing the pipeline of incoming photo/video media from other shooters. 

I love telling the festival's story afterwards by marrying the reams of captured photographs and video to a glove-fitting soundtrack.  A highlights video.

The festival is renowned for its friendly and fun vibe, scenic surroundings, good eats and fine wine (no surprise there!). Actors are refreshingly at ease and approachable, while the filmmakers become your friends by the end of the five days. 

The filmmakers and their stories inspire everyone and it seems the whole town of Sonoma lends a hand in and around the quaint tree-lined city-center square to help them in any way – from a cup of coffee to a complimentary guesthouse. Close to my heart are these quiet filmmakers, yearning for their films to speak to a larger audience. I tried to pay homage to four of them with a few extra seconds of slow-pan screen time.

And the parties … oh the parties.  You’ll see.  Enjoy.

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Best of Sonoma International Film Festival 2015 video.

Special thanks go to contributing photographers Cristian Isbrandtsen and Kevin Carruth.

Edit Please

The journey of a photograph from the camera to your eyeballs is a twisty and perilous one. 

Every image is born with a click with high hopes of being loved. But most don't make it. This Darwinian fact of life is especially harsh when I must be the one (not the client) to choose a single image of a scene or a project or a person. Sometimes, the choice is easy and if there's time, I can bounce the candidates off my trusted won't-pull-punches advisors and they'll usually agree in blind taste tests.

But the edit becomes excruciating when I've pushed and pulled and sliced and diced and yet can't decide. And my advisors are split down the middle like Congress. Time is running out. Two images, both deserving. Both with something to say. How do choose!?!

This happened recently for a portrait of Nils Frahm, a gifted musician and composer. I photographed him after his sound check before his performance at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles. Check out his music, it's gorgeous and moving. 

Nils Frahm, killing time as I set up my lights for the portrait, before his performance at the  El Rey Theatre  in Los Angeles. 

Nils Frahm, killing time as I set up my lights for the portrait, before his performance at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles. 

The "planned" image in my mind's eye ... almost.

The "planned" image in my mind's eye ... almost.

I couldn't decide. I liked #1's tinge of edge, his nonchalance for the camera. The blurred car and glow of the fire. But his face is half-hidden and one of my advisors didn't like the cigarette one bit. I liked #2 for the full view of his face and tone of light from simulated car headlights. I wasn't crazy about his right hand and the stopped cars and I wanted more from his expression. But some of my advisors liked this image more. Ugh!

I did what I often do if I have time. I walked away from the screen and busied myself with washing the dishes to complete forget the images for a few minutes. And when I returned, I did what one must do ... I went with my gut. 

The Black & White of FYF Fest 2014

In the beginning, there was Black & White ... and it was good.

Claire Bouchard as  Grimes

Claire Bouchard as Grimes

These days, we are very lucky. We can effortlessly convert any image to Black & White.  A Black & White treatment can be rich and dramatic, forcing the eyes to see form and composition ...

Thomas Mars of  Phoenix .

Thomas Mars of Phoenix.

... or it can disinfect an image suffering from ugly stage lighting ...

Julian Casablancas + The Voidz

Julian Casablancas + The Voidz

... or it can simply be a welcome change from the ordinary (and expected) world of color.

Carlos Dengler of   Interpol

Carlos Dengler of  Interpol

Curious to see the color originals of these Black & Whites from FYF Fest 2014? Just click the image. And let me know which version you like best ... you might be surprised. I'd love to hear your feedback.

Matt Mondanile,  Real Estate

Matt Mondanile, Real Estate