The Shoe Shine Guy

25 Apr 2012

Another shot from my recent magazine editorial work, this is a shot I'm particularly proud of for a few reasons. Primarily, I managed to pull off my initial concept (ie what you see here), but also I managed to make this kid look good while capturing a great image! And despite it appearing at quite a small size in the magazine it really stood out on the page. In a good way that is.

It is a composite shot, but just to make the pedestrian traffic look nice and busy. The lighting was a slight challenge and something I had to figure out on the spot pretty quickly. The sun was streaming in the skylights from a really high angle and casting quite a hot spot along with some heavy shadows, but with some on-camera fill-in flash I managed to get the exposure balance almost spot on. And then Lightroom got me the rest of the way.

As if all of that wasn't enough, I was also tasked with interviewing the guy and writing a paragraph on him. Turns out he'd just finished high school, had done a bit of travelling and seen shoe shining be quite popular in other cities. So he decided to give it a go, found his chairs on eBay, and after six months researching the various shoe shining techniques opened up shop in one of the city arcades in January this year. Good on him I say, I really hope he does well. The paragraph in the magazine read:

Next time you’re passing through [redacted] Arcade look out for the newly opened Shoe Shine Company. Having seen a thriving shoe shine market in New York and Sydney, Sam spent six months researching the techniques and is filling the niché here.
Drop your shoes off or take a rest and enjoy the in-chair service. Standard shoe shine $5, or go deluxe for only $10.