In August, Photo Flood Saint Louis will celebrate the completion of its fourth year covering the “Lion of the Valley” and all of its wonderful idiosyncrasies. For me, it is hard to believe this much time has passed since I originally invited a small group of five photographers out into Downtown for Photo Flood 1. We’ve now grown into a dynamic organization of more than 300, some of who are regulars, some of who are once-in-a-whiles, some of who have never come out for a Flood but stick around for the networking opportunities, and have been partner to several of the city’s best known annual events, cultural institutions, and civic ceremonies.
Even so, four years in and we are only about halfway done with documenting all of the city’s neighborhoods (we are scheduled through 2021). To celebrate, I am going to post some of my images from my ten favorite Photo Floods, beginning with number ten, The Patch. I hope you enjoy!
The Patch is a neighborhood way out on the edge of the city, and it feels like it. This is a place with a history almost as old as St. Louis’, which means that it has a unique character.
On our visit for Photo Flood 4, the temperature was in the single digits (before windchill), making it one of the coldest Photo Floods we have yet experienced. For my outing, I brought with me the Nikon D300 and Tokina 80-200mm AT-X Pro, manual focus lens. To anyone familiar with my style of shooting, you probably recognize that this was sort of a playful experiment, since 99% of my work is shot under 105mm. It was a challenge too.
The crop sensor meant that nearly every frame was going to be an intimate vignette, and although I enjoy playing with the compression of longer focal lengths, I hate shallow depth of field for almost everything (in my view, it is too often a crutch for photographers more mechanically than compositionally/artfully/storytelling inclined). Still, I think that this somehow “fit” the neighborhood rather well, and my results have something of a Hitchcock look to them.
So, what makes The Patch one of my ten favorite Floods? I wouldn’t say that this is one of my best photographically, although I did enjoy the challenge of a focal range that I don’t prefer. Rather, I think that it was the experience of using a slower photo setup (manual focusing with a foot on the spot meter pedal for the harsh lighting) married to the working-class character of this historic neighborhood, and doing that out in the frigid temps (and probably also a bit due to having some amazing waffles to end the day).
PFSTL member Patrick Gioia.
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