I get the sense that JE Paino is at his best after a long, hard day of working the fields. Sun overhead, and hops growing like wildfire, dirt under his finger nails and sweat on his brow, this is where he hits a stride.

Owner of Ruhstaller Beer in Sacramento, CA, I recently had the opportunity to photograph this benevolent personality for Comstock’s magazine, and his positivity shows. No, it exudes, quite frankly. With every shot it was clear, passion pours from Paino like a tap head. The way he talks about the growing process, challenges, the beer itself, it all makes sense and has an whelming sense of good vibes. Nothing is a problem, everything, a solution.

We started out on a warm, late winter morning. Arriving at the Farm & Yard, as JE lovingly calls it, you can already feel the potential. Light pours in from the east and a slight breeze makes way to a warmer afternoon. As I shoot, I’m distracted. Paino has stories of his first seasons, failures and successes, even worldly travels. This is what I find most rewarding though, is connecting with another person, and letting their passion shine through the photographs. I have no challenges here, save for a rising sun and ever harsher light.

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The Shot

Technically, the first shot above was easy. The problem was figuring backdrop and pose. With a rising sun as back light and a LumoPro LP180 working with a standard umbrella in front, offset about 45 degrees, I flooded the subject with light, about 1/4 power. Shooting mostly with a Canon 35mm and 24-105mm got the shots I needed.

Knowing in this case to work with the sun, and not try to overpower it with meager equipment was the simple solution. Make sure to check out the actual article in Comstock’s for the final shot!

Posing was actually relatively easy. Since I was able to connect a bit with JE before shooting, he seemed somewhat natural. Conversation leads to the best photos. After that, I left him to act natural. In this case, it worked wonders but in others, it might not. Paying attention and being aware of what a person is feeling could be your best asset in discovering the best poses. Here, Paino did all the work. Natural, relax and casual, I didn’t have much a problem with poses.

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A big thanks to Comstock’s magazine and JE Paino with Ruhstaller Beer for the opportunity, fun day and great experience. If you get the chance, DO NOT miss out on visiting the Farm & Yard for some great people, awesome times, and ridiculously good beer.

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