About six weeks ago, I made an offer to my friends, family, and other random internet readers, to do some free portrait sessions because a) I think all but two days in February suck, and b) I wanted to experiment a bit. So regular readers (all three of you–hello wife, mother, and random internet dude!) may be wondering what became of that offer.
I got a number of requests via Facebook and personal e-mail, and had to defer a few to later in the year–I wanted to have something to do, not be completely crushed. First up was Skippy, his lovely wife and daughter (pictured above), and his wife’s children. I did a session not long ago with their family, and this time we spent a couple of hours experimenting in their house.
Technically speaking, I didn’t really try much new. The most challenging was a shot of the family “in context”, i.e. everyone but the baby using a laptop. I like that one a lot because a) they all have their intent stares at their laptops, and b) the baby is smiling at the camera–perfect juxtaposition. The technical challenge was getting it lit just enough for the camera sensor (remote flash is camera left) but not overpowering the glow from the laptop screens. They were great sports. Angela posted the complete set to her flickr stream.
Next up was my mother-in-law (Hi mom-in-law!). She wanted something with which to replace her Facebook profile pic, but wasn’t terribly concerned beyond that. My thought was to “put her in context” as a news junkie behind a newspaper. She’s also an avid reader, and since her newspapers were all in the recycling bin, she opted for a favorite book.
I struggled a bit with this session because my flash and triggers kept misbehaving. I’m now convinced that one flash (my Lumopro LP120) is on the fritz, and that my triggers needed new batteries. The LP120 has now been relegated to backup status, and the trigger batteries have been changed.
Vanessa is absolutely beautiful, but takes a while to warm up to folks. We’ve known her since she was born, but she doesn’t know me well enough to give me a hug or smile upon greeting. I went to their house with not too much of a plan in mind, except that she would probably look good on a white background. I did a white seamless setup, and her parents got her to work on puzzles, and drawing and the like. Then Rob suggested music. Darn it all to Hades. I’ve only read about 50 places to put music on during a portrait shoot. It was perfect. She started to loosen up, and then really had a blast when I suggested we let her play on the exercise ball. I also did some head-shots for Rob and Tammy, then some family variations.
The biggest experiment for me technically was shooting tethered for the first time, using Lightroom. We all loved it. The biggest challenge was keeping an eye (and the lens) on the dancing Vanessa while I was totally curious to see what the shots looked like full size.
Finally, on the last day of the month, I shot a band, Fresh Wreckage, who were interested in some promo kit photos. I shot the majority of them about a year ago as Necessity.
We’d originally planned to try for some outdoor, sunset portraits in downtown. Due to work constraints, that didn’t work out too well for the band, so we got started after sundown in an urban loft with not too much space. I started with individual portraits, all dark and moody, with a brick wall as the distant background. I really didn’t want to do a shot of the band in front of the brick wall, knowing all-too-well that musicians-in-front-of-brick-walls is horribly cliched. But for a while, that seemed like all we would get. The sun was down, and the weather was pretty frigid.
After the individual shots were done, they were all game to venture onto a nearby parking garage, despite the cold. I grabbed my gear, and out we went. We to the top of a nearby garage, and while I was getting the lighting and exposure set, they kept their coats on. When I was ready, they tossed their coats aside for 5 minutes.
Well, OK, some of them took their coats off. We bundled up, packed up, and head back to the loft for pizza and another round of group shots. I was anxious to do something other than a brick background, so I pulled out a recent fabric acquisition (used in my own self portrait) and hung it sideways to create the portrait above. My experiment with the band was to try to do much of the work via TTL flash, which meant one light (I only have one flash capable of TTL metering). So most of the individual shots as well as the indoor group above were done with a single TTL flash. The outdoor shot was lit with two remote flashes on manual.
‘Twas a good February. Thanks to everyone who participated and let me experiment a bit.