“I fought the law, and the law won!” – The Clash
My good friend Isaac Bailey came with me on assignment to photograph Sheriff Paul Babeu, Sheriff of Pinal County, Arizona. Sheriff Babeu has received a lot of publicity over the last year in his efforts to fight the drug and human trafficking in southern Arizona. Of course, Isaac needed to be put in his place, so he took a ride in the BACK of the Sheriff’s truck. I thought the photo above would be good for his wall.
An hour or so south of my home is a little town called Florence, which is the county seat of Pinal County. It is smack dab in the middle of the desert. So when the Sheriff needed portraits that said “Arizona,” there was no better place than his back yard. Just southeast of Florence is some of the most spectacular desert I have ever seen, and I have seen a lot of desert. I found the location for these shots on a full day scouting trip specifically for this shoot. If you want to find the right location, you just have to get in a car, and drive… with an iPhone and google maps, of course.
I prefer the serious versions. I like to think of the Sheriff as the tough law man of the west, but I suppose it is nice to see that the Sheriff has a human side as well. And Sheriff Babeu is quite a nice man. I have known him for a while now and I have always enjoyed knowing him. But I still like seeing the Sheriff with a serious face.
My hat is off to Sheriff Babeu and his team. They have a difficult job to do. The Sheriff has Mexican Drug Cartel hits taking place in his county. But, he is taking the fight to the cartels, coyotes and bandits that operate in Pinal county as they traffic drugs and humans north. Its a tough job and he gets a lot of negative press from people who don’t understand what is happening out here in the desert and even death threats from the Mexican Drug Cartel. You have heard of the rancher who was murdered in his home in southern Arizona… this problem is very real. People are afraid out there.
This last shot was a last minute deal. We thought the light was gone, due to a serious bank of clouds, but then the clouds showed a break and we could expect some beautiful colors, so we made ready very quickly and took the photo. The sunset and the police lights required a higher ISO with a slower shutter speed of 1/50, but without a flash, the Sheriff and his truck would be fairly dark, so we have a set of White Lightning mono-lights powered by batteries, and Isaac holding a reflector off to the right to soften the shadow on the Sheriff’s face. I think it turned out nicely.
You know, while I was speaking to him, he also expressed a lot of concern for the Mexican citizens being used, endangered and even left to die by the cartels and the coyotes in the desert. He told me of several instances where the Sheriff’s office rescued Mexican citizens who had been left to die in the desert because they were too slow or couldn’t carry the drugs anymore. His office rescues these poor people and saves their lives in an inhospitable place that will kill someone very quickly. It’s a rough place out there in the desert, add some drug cartels, some armed bandits and a few cyotees and it gets a lot more rough. I was floored by the stories he told us. It was like a mob movie and a western, mixed with a little Blood Simple by the Coen Brothers. It is bizarre to know what is happening just an hour south of my home.
He’s a good man, and he’s doing a tough job and taking a lot of flack for it. I don’t live in Pinal County, so I can’t vote for him, but he’s got my vote.
Photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography
Subject: Sheriff Paul Babeu
Location: The Desert Southeast of Florence, Arizona
Not very often, but sometime, it does rain in Arizona. And we scheduled a family portrait session on one of the five days a year that we get rain. That’s ok! We went out in the rain and had a great time. I like photographs of people in in-climate weather.
Music: Mindy Gledhill, “Mi Ancia”
SOME OF MY FAVORITE IMAGES:
Give a child her own child sized umbrella with zebra stripes and she will be happy.
This has to be my favorite of all the family shots we took. It is the most natural, and that always wins out for me.
Of course, once she finds a puddle, then the zebra stripped umbrella is completely disposable. We tried so hard to get her to play in the puddle with the umbrella in hand, but there was not a chance. The umbrella was no longer cool!
Eric Greenhalgh is also a photographer, in fact he has worked with me on many occasions. It’s always a pleasure to shoot a portrait for another photographer because they are willing to go with the flow and allow the photographer to take chances. So you end up with great photos because everyone is on the same page. Photographers trust other photographers to run with their vision and have no interest in micromanaging the shoot or the outcome. If Eric wanted his own eye, he would shoot the photos himself (at least of his kids and wife). So, just a thought: when you hire a photographer, trust his or her eye and let them do it their way. Then you will truly have something unique and special hanging on your wall.
Family Portrait Details
Photography: Platt Photography
Location: Downtown Chandler Arizona
Slideshow Music: Mindy Gledhill “Mi Ancia”