Sometimes (well, a lot of times) people having their portraits taken can be very shy and self conscious. This can often be overcome with effort on the part of the photographer being friendly and fun.
I find it can take the better part of a 1 hour session for the subject to begin to relax in front of the camera and show a bit more of their true self. This is when the magic can happen. A special spark in the eye can occur when just the photographer and subject know that a connection has been made and the real person is coming out for a visit.
Sometimes I find a bit of role playing helps the entire process along very nicely. Items like a hat, or, in this case, a scarf and pair of sun glasses helped to transform my friend Pat from the school principal, wife, mother and grandmother that she is into a woman of mystery. She really got into the character we created and began playing to the camera with all kinds of fun and silly poses right out of a B grade movie from the 1950’s. Eventually though, in a very short time, she started to reveal herself. When she turned towards the camera and looked at me for this image, I knew I had captured something special about her.
Here is some of the technical stuff:
The portrait was taken using a single shoot through umbrella at camera left. Subject was in front of a black background. Shot at ISO 200 on a Nikon D300 using a Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 lens at f/6.3. Shutter speed was 1/250s. The image was post processed in Aperture and some skin smoothing applied. Further image processing was performed in Nik ColorEfex to add a bit of a glow to the image and then converted to B&W in Nik SiverEfex.
I chose the Black & White interpretation of the image because it allows the viewer to focus on her eyes without the distractions of the colour of the scarf (it was red). What do you think?
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