Local News

May 26, 2014

Cawood’s photography project garners much attention

Brandon Cawood did his photography project “Not All Wear Capes” for several reasons — to build his portfolio while challenging himself on a new level and to help a local nonprofit.

He never expected the series to go viral.

But since his series was unveiled not even six months ago, Cawood has been profiled in several photography publications, as well as online news site The Huffington Post (huffingtonpost.com.)

“I knew putting it in my portfolio would help me get jobs in the future,” Cawood said. “But I didn’t expect people all over the world to like it this much.”

The series was unveiled at the Creative Art Guild’s First Friday in December 2013. It pays homage to local emergency personnel, heroes who don’t wear capes.

The series includes the Dalton Fire Department, Whitfield County Emergency Management Services, Hamilton Medical Center’s emergency room, Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office, Erlanger Medical Center’s Lifeforce air ambulance, Varnell Police Department’s K9 Unit, Georgia State Patrol’s SWAT unit and the state patrol’s dive team.

Canvas prints of the images and calendars featuring the images were sold to raise approximately $6,000 for the guild’s scholarship program.

The images are composites, meaning there are several photos pieced together to create one image. The fewest photos used on one image was three. They took several hours to create, and perfecting the shot in camera was just as important as the computer work, Cawood said.

“I had to do a lot of planning before I even started,” he said. “I had to figure out backgrounds, angles, and I warped some of the backgrounds I shot. This was my first big endeavor in composites.”

One magazine that features Cawood is Advanced Photoshop, a British publication that’s also sold in the U.S. He has a tutorial in issue 121, which is available now, and will have another in issue 123.

Advanced Photoshop is a magazine for people already knowledgeable about the photo editing software Photoshop, but want to learn new functions and uses.

The photo featured in the current issue is of the Georgia State Patrol’s Swat team. Cawood takes readers behind the scenes of the creation of that image in 15 steps. He gives readers tips, such as how to allow eyes to show on an image where something is creating a reflection over a person’s eyes.

“I’m picky about reflections,” Cawood said. “I make sure I’m not in it. I use lights, soft boxes that reflect. I shot him with the goggles on, then without. Then I blended the image together.”

Some photographers are apprehensive about giving away their secrets to creating an image.

But for Cawood, “It feels good to help people learn,” he said. “I am giving away secrets. I’m paying it forward. We’re different people, and we see things differently. Even if I went step by step with someone, their image would look completely differently.”

Cawood is also featured in the May issue of Digital SLR. It’s more of a general story on the series itself.

The popularity grew after Cawood posted an image on the Fstoppers Facebook site. He was then featured on PetaPixel.com. Both are photography blogs for professionals.

He also donated a photo for a fundraiser “Saving Eliza” where photographers are selling prints for 4-year-old Eliza O’Neill, who has a degenerative genetic disease (savingeliza.smugmug.com). The funds will help her parents, who live in South Carolina, pay for treatments.

Up next for Cawood — after getting married this summer — is a second part to the “Not All Wear Capes” series, which will profile the military. He’s doing it for a nonprofit organization called Active Heroes that helps active duty military and veterans, as well as their families, “in order to provide the coping skills to manage the stress and the triggering points that lead to suicide,” according to the organization’s website, activeheroes.org.

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