The only member of my family (apart from my wife) who doesn’t complain incessantly when I want to shoot some portraits is my dad. The rest of them I have to drag kicking and screaming in front of the camera. My mom might be the worst of the bunch, it’s definitely a challenge to shoot her even if you just want a simple portrait. Nevertheless, when she came for a visit I was prepared to fight.
What I had in mind was a shot with a sombre feel to it, something quiet. However, my model couldn’t take any kind of directions and wouldn’t take anything seriously, so after a while I gave up on that idea. Instead I started messing with her, trying to get her to laugh and getting some fairly silly expressions as a result. In these situations I just try to time my shots but you won’t know until you check the results if you got anything good or not. Often you miss the moment and end up with something…err, less flattering. The shot at the top is a bit weird but I like it, it has personality.
Key light was a LP160 in softbox from camera left. An elderly woman’s (sorry mom) face is usually not the right place to introduce hard shadows, so in order to open up the shadows a bit I used a gold reflector from behind and to camera right. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love my new(ish) Lastolite triflip, so versatile and portable, can’t recommend it enough.
I really like what that warm rim light does for the shot, it makes the whole thing come together for me. Another thing that I feel helped things come together is the edit. I had initially planned to do a minimal edit like the one below – which works quite well, there’s nothing wrong with it – but usually when I start editing a shot I go through some of the presets I use as starting points and just see how the image reacts to it. In this case I was really drawn to one particular preset so I started modifying it and ended up with what you see here, which is a much more subtle effect than the original settings. What do you think, does this style work? For the right shot I can definitely see myself using this style again.
Before taking down the set I had one more model to shoot. He’s a small fellow, pretty stocky build and a hairy face…wait, what? He also turned out to be an even worse model than my mom. I’m talking about the muppet-like creature you see below, staring wide-eyed up at his master, begging her to save him from the evil photographer.
I needed to get him off the ground to get a good background so we put him on a small table. Unfortunately he didn’t like that at all and repeatedly tried to escape its terror-inducing heights. Mom had to sit by his side so the light from the reflector was mostly blocked and I couldn’t get him to look at the camera. Still, he’s fairly photogenic so the shot is decent, considering it was one of only a small handful of frames I was allowed.
That’s all for today. Let me know what you think and then head out to terrorize your surroundings with your nightmarish tools of image recording.