Waves of inspiration don't hit me often, I must confess that it is mostly forced creativity, but when these waves to hit me and overtake me with desire to create it's very refreshing.
I noticed quite a few great and intriguing portraits on Facebook and Instagram, and I got a little frustrated. I thought "Wow, these are impressive! I should be able to take pictures like this and I'm not." So I very impulsively texted my beautiful friend Caitlin, forgetful of the fact that I left my camera in Tupelo while packing. So not only did I borrow her face and time but her boyfriend's Cannon T3i.
Originally, we planned on taking pictures outside, but when I got to her apartment I realized that it was way too hot. So, bummed, we sat around and watched tv until the urge was just too much to bare. I noticed how nicely the window light fell on a fantastic old chair.
So I followed my instincts, asked Caitlin to dress up and picked out a dress that would go nicely with the chair. Since her floor was a bit messy and distracting, I chose not to shoot below her ankles (if she was sitting normally in the chair). While waiting for her to get dressed and ready, I looked on Pintrest for good poses to do in the chair and some inspiration of how to shoot a writer.
I once read that portraits either show what someone looks like or show who they are, I wanted to express who Caitlin the writer was so besides setting up the lighting, I let her do her own thing. If you ever have read her writing, it's not dark but it does acknowledge the hard and serious side of life while still possessing hope for a good yet realistic outcome. I feel as if this approach shined through her portraits.
The lighting, although slightly dark was very easy to work with. I had a nice soft source of window light and to use it well I paid attention to the direction of the chair, her body, and her face. Since her face was usually the focal point I exposed for her face and made sure that there were no unflattering shadows. While shooting, I would change my position as well as the angle of the chair or her chin to get the lighting that I wanted.
Posing was very effortless to me because Caitlin is a natural, but I did have to pay attention to normal awkward areas such as arms and especially hands. It's very easy to let hands look distracting and fake, they could look broken, clenched, or stiff. Sometimes asking the subject to close their fingers or relax their hands can be very beneficial. When people are nervous, it's normal for them to press their arms right against their sides, this makes them look fuller. So keeping the arms slightly away from the body usually makes the model look better.
To edit these images, I tried something different. I used perfect effects 8 which is really good for stylistic photos because they have a lot a great pre-set effects that come in different layers so it's pretty simple to adjust and mix effects. Once I found a moody style that I liked, I saved it as a custom preset. I chose a subtle, faded vintage look and a more bold, sassy, yet still vintage preset. The first is more quiet and thoughtful while the other is bold with personality. Usually I try to have one style per set of pictures but in this case I can't choose which style I like best for all of the photographs. So I chose to use the bold edit on the sassy portraits and the quiet edit on the more humble portraits.
I'm not crazy about taking portraits of people with the purpose of making them look pretty. However, I do enjoy taking portraits of artists because they usually understand the importance of truth when it comes to beauty. My goal when shooting artists is to step back observe, then capture what I see about them instead of trying to fit them into a mold.
Thank you Caitlin for being venerable, letting me expose you, and share your artistic nature with the world.