As a London based portrait photographer, very often, I have the opportunity to work with exciting clients, helping them bring their creative ideas to realization. This was pretty much the case with client of mine who contacted me with quite interesting and challenging request – she wanted a Creative Portrait Session with her three sisters, where the final portrait picture was going to be a gift for their mother.
Creativity certainly brings to mind some level of complexity involved in the process – deviating from the standard acceptances and norms. For me in particular, creativity brings to my portrait photography two things – challenges and opportunities.
In my professional realm as a photographer, challenges brought by new clients and projects very often translates into a driving force for exploring deeper the boundaries of portrait photography. Along with this, naturally, comes the opportunity to meet and deal with new people and their specific requests and characters; such as I never faced or would think of before – the combination of both, contribute greatly to photographer’s professional development.
However, very often (as part of the whole process) it’s not only the photography part and technical challenges that bring all the excitement but also connecting and communicating with clients.
The most interesting part in this intriguing project was the way everything unfolded, since my client first got in touch with me, before the actual photo-shoot.
Booking the Portrait Session:
Upon receiving the first email I already had an idea, for most of the part, of what my client needed. The most important thing for her was the date; the photo-shoot needed to be set on a particular date requested by my client. The date as a detail on its own was perfectly fine with me, two months down the calendar and most importantly I was available for bookings. Then we sort of managed to establish, through very scarce communication over short period of time, in what creative direction the portrait photo-shoot was going to be set – this one was tricky though.
I proposed many ideas, but do to the fact that my client was also planning her wedding and at the same time trying to organize her sisters (plus all other professional and daily hassle), she wasn’t really available to put her mind and availability fully into establishing the final concept – one very important thing she did, however, was to share enough information with me about their personalities and unique characters, the way their mother remembers them. And this turned out to be the base for the creative element of the photo-shoot, capturing their natural personalities in interactive way.
Then there was two months of silence, I didn’t even receive the deposit I requested to book the date. So as the date was coming close I thought to my self that, perhaps, she found another photographer or who knows something else might of happened. Then two days before the initial date I received an email from her, asking me if I was still available to proceed with the photo-shoot – luckily, I still was available for the date.
Certainly this is not the perfect and most appropriate way of booking a professional photographer, but as one I will always will provide my clients with the best customer experience. Part of any trade, especially providing services, should be the ability to understand people as there could be many daily obstacles in peoples life.
In The Studio.
After all hiccups along the way we finally arrived at the designated day of the photo-shoot.
As usual I was first in the studio, setting up all the lighting, backdrop and equipment, when suddenly the door opened and the four sisters stormed the studio with loud laughter and excitement of what was to come. I was relieved to find out that the true nature of their characters was the exact my client described in one of her emails – it’s a breeze capturing creative portraits of people full of joy and positive emotions.
By the way, a little confession of mine will be that I got caught by surprise (a product of not productive enough communication). Arranging the initial lighting setup with an idea of mine didn’t turn out to be what they had in mind for the beginning of the photo-shoot. However, do to all the experience as portrait photographer, I accumulated over the years, I managed to adopt and turn the whole setup around so we could proceed naturally without braking the inertia of the mood in the studio.
And bellow is the selection of the images my client choose to be edited and used as a final product for the portrait session – click on the images for large overview.
Then, as per what my client wish, I arranged the selected images in a small design as they were interacting with each others.
My lighting setup was fairly simple, despite the fact that I like to “play” with lots of lighting, I had one very large soft-box as a main light (positioned on camera left and slight angle from above) the light from which (do to its large size) was wrapping well around my subjects. So for fill I didn’t use a strobe but instead I deployed a large white Styrofoam board, bouncing/reflecting back whatever was scattered from the main light.
Also I had two strip boxes set on the sides and behind acting as a rim lights, and to evenly illuminate my background I used an old technique of mine delivering great results – described in depth in this blog post Lighting evenly illuminated backdrops.
A circular reflector was positioned under and in front of my models, just to even out the overall luminosity and shadow to mid-tones and highlights balance, the smoother the gradient the better the result is.
I really wanted to keep the lighting simple as I had to work out and concentrate on the behavioral part of the photo-shoot – bringing forward and capturing the best out of my models.
At one point, as we were progressing trough the photo session, there was so much laughter that turned into tears (as can be seeing form the image bellow) – yes, one of these too much fun situations with tears of joy.
The most important part, besides getting the desired result out of the photo shoot, was the experience and the atmosphere created by both parties – me as the portrait photographer and my clients/models.