Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Primary colors

"Dyan Brasington served her first day as vice president of director of economic workforce development April 4, after what she described as months of interviewing. Four days later, she was married at The Belvedere in Baltimore before taking two days off for an abbreviated honeymoon and helping her son decide where to go to college. "All of these life changing things are all happening at the same time," Brasington said. "It's been all of these experiences within a week. Now that I think about it, wow."

I was running late and knew I didn't want to keep my subject late on a Friday afternoon.

Having set a doctors appointment last week at 3:30 p.m. for [last] Friday, I didn't know at the time that I would be shooting a portrait at 4 p.m.

Luckily, the writer was going to meet me at the subject's office and do the interview, allowing me enough time to setup and stake out a visually appealing location indoors or outside.

However, realizing that it was a Friday (Friday means nothing to a journalist, especially one that shoots a sporting event every Saturday) I didn't want to have her go through a 30 to 45 minute interview and than have to deal with a photographer.

I opted to shoot her during the interview, which I tend to like better.

While I have the freedom to be as creative as I want to be during a portrait, emotions are generally more evident when subjects aren't one on one with a camera.

Being behind the lens, I often don't realize how intimidating it can be to have a big, bulky camera in your face. This is why I try and get to know my subjects by just talking with them and getting them to relax beforehand.

But as I said, I didn't want to waste my subject’s time getting to know her. Unlike me, she had a child and new significant other to get home to. All I had on my mind was an overpriced plate of "American" sushi.

When we walked into her office, I told her that I was going to candidly shoot some frames while she spoke with the reporter. She agreed that would be OK.

I made the quick executive decision to have her sit in front of the wall opposite of the window.

This would allow me to use ambient light and an 85mm at f/2 to get a nicely lit, sharp image.

As I began shooting, I waited for her to speak on topics she was passionate about. I shot tight and from a bunch of different angles.

But I kept noticing her big smile and bright eyes. Ah, harmony of the primary colors.

However, I started second guessing my judgment to place her in front the yellow wall. Was there somewhere else I could have placed her? Should I have shot an actual portrait? Does she approve of this? What about the writer, did they want a setup portrait, too?

When in this questioning process, I tried to relax and think rationally. Why was I thinking this wouldn't work?

So I took a deep breath and started shooting how I saw things. I made the above image, relaxed and with the perception of her bright eyes against the wall.

I knew this would never see light of day in print and wouldn't want it to. But it was my vision and made it anyways. It had helped me start thinking how I should be, not how I was before I made the image. Feeling rushed.

But after I made the image and admired it on the back of my camera for two seconds, I got the idea to simply center her evenly in the image.

I tend to always use the rule of thirds and shoot tight on little assignments like these, so I wanted to branch away from that.

I like it; only wish she would have maybe spoke with her hands, rather than had them in her lap, thus adding another element to the image.

This is the image that ran.

Well, I am sitting here looking at my to do list, and I am not going to lie, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed and a bit down in the dumps. But it has to get done.


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