I recently had the great opportunity of photographing a subject different to my usual. I got to create portraits of a 19 year old boy. And I say boy because he's the friend of my step daughter and I've known him since he was about 7. Its times like this when I feel old, very old. If he were a stranger I would have seen him as a young man and I wouldn't have felt nearly this old. Instead though, he was a grown boy, still the sweet young child I used to see at the school gates when doing the school runs. Where did all this time go?
Anyway, before I embarrass him too much, it was great fun being able to use different lighting setups than I typically use for babies, children and families. I like to take opportunities like this to experiment and really stretch myself as a photographer. Its a great chance to take out the lighting kit I don't often use (and in some cases have never used) and give them a go. Its a wonderful learning opportunity that I consider incredibly valuable.
Luke understood the nature of our session and was up for being model for the evening. He brought along clothing choices and we had a go with a variety of setups, often assessing the images as we went so we could both see how we could improve what we already had. This is vital to my workflow in such a session because even though I meter the light and I'm quite confident in the results, I always want to be certain I'm getting it right. Seeing the results up close on my calibrated monitor will show me whether any tweaking is required. Constantly changing the lights could easily mean errors are made, particularly when I am using multiple lights for various functions.
In the run up to this session I collecting some inspiring images both online and in magazines. I wanted to try and replicate an image I'd come across of Leonardo Di Caprio in a watch advert and the image below is a pretty good representation of that look. I love looking at images and trying to figure how they were shot. It's even better if I can get the lights out and to try and replicate it. Its a really good exercise in expanding my skills, skills I will be able to apply to a great number of portraits, particularly with my corporate headshots.
Work such as this, experimenting, researching, planning and playing, is a regular part of what I do. Its important that I know my equipment inside and out as well as have a continuing changing collection of images so my clients have a great deal of choice. I prefer to listen to their likes and interests and create something that suits their needs and wishes rather than just stick to an easy and basic formula. This is not only important to me for my clients benefit but for me as an artist as well. I don't want to be bored and I definitely want my clients to feel like they've got something special in booking me to be their portrait photographer.
So if you ever think that a photographer charges a lot for just taking your photo please try to remember that any good photographer (certainly one worth paying) will often spend a lot of time continually developing and improving their skills. Any professional in any field must regularly invest in continued education and photography is no different.
So I will be doing more of this throughout 2014. Luke has already volunteered to come back again so I can only assume it wasn't a terrible experience. I just need to come up with something unique so its worth his while. Planning is underway and my eyes are always peeled for new inspiration. I can't wait to see what I can come up with next year. As this is clearly my last post of 2013 have a great new year everyone and see you all next year!