Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Power of a Picture

This past Saturday,  I participated in the Annual Help Portrait event with Kern Photography Association, again.  Essentially Help Portrait is about:
  • Finding Someone in Need
  • Taking their Picture
  • Printing It
  • Delivering It
But it's really more than just those four simple steps. It's about spending time with that person and getting to know them and their story.  Even during the event, we get so wrapped up in making sure everything goes smoothly that we forget the real meaning behind Help Portrait.  

While adjusting my tripod height, I looked at the young man standing behind the gaffer's tape I placed on the ground in front of my backdrop.  He looked tense and his eyes were cast downward.  I asked if he was okay, and he looked up and said that he was thankful that we were donating our time to take pictures of him and his compadres at the facility.

I stepped out from behind my camera and asked if he wouldn't mind sharing what he planned to do with his picture.  He said he had runaway from home, which was back in Virginia, and through bad choices ended up incarcerated for four years in California.  Although he stayed in contact with his parents, they haven't seen him in over 6 years.  He told me that he would be sending the picture to his parents to let them know he is doing "okay", and that he is in the process of making amends for his past decisions.  We talked about his goals and what he planned to do once he graduated from the facility, and then we got ready for the picture. 

I stepped back behind my camera and said, "Let's show Mom and Dad how great you are doing"  He smiled from ear-to-ear and his eyes glistened.  As soon as the picture was taken, we watched it appear on my iPad, he smiled even bigger and said that his parent would like that picture.  

That is what Help Portrait is all about!!!

What Did I Learn?

  • Help Portrait is only 50% about taking a quality photo - it's also about connecting with another person.  It's too easy to forget how fortunate and blessed I am to have a family, friends, health and a job
  • Do this more than once a year - One of the things I did during this event was to perfect a way to shoot and process a picture on-site.  I need to purchase a portable printer so I can take this "on the road" and shoot anywhere and anytime

I'm proud to be a member of Kern Photography Association and their charitable endeavors.  Wishing you and your loved ones a Safe and Joyous Holiday Season

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Heidi and Nikki

The last two White Sheets shoots didn't quite end up as expected, on one I forgot to dry the sheets, and the other I changed the entire lighting set-up.  I still attained decent results, but something didn't click.  I decided to go back to my standard lighting and made sure the sheets were dry.

I found Heidi on Kern Models and Photographers (KMaP) Facebook group as a Make-up Artists, but noticed she had some cool tattoos, so I asked if she would be interested in being in my White Sheets, and she agreed.  As with most White Sheets sessions, I asked Heidi to bring along a chaperone.  She brought Nikki, who is a model on KMaP.   Nikki hasn't shot in awhile, so I told her to bring some clothes she would like photographed.

The White Sheets was my standard lighting set-up,  86", "broken", PLM shot-thru my white muslin and my 22" White Beauty Dish for Key and Einstein with the 8" Reflector bounced off the garage as Fill.  Heidi was on my blow-up mattress and I also laid down the bamboo flooring in case I wanted a full body shot.

The Metering for ISO 200 and Shutter 1/125 was:

  • Key: F/8
  • Fill:  F/4
  • BG: F/11 

And of course, my Grey card for more accurate White Balance.

Heidi was a real trooper, not having done Boudoir stuff before, she kept visualizing that she was at the beach and we kept things light and funny.  After a few White Sheets shots, we switched models and wardrobes.  Nikki brought along a really cool Gold dress, so while we shot, Heidi warmed up.

This image of Nikki with her eyes closed is really for Heidi, since she did Nikki's make-up.  I love the colors Heidi chose and Nikki was definitely relaxed in front of the camera.

The ladies had two to three wardrobe changes and we shot for a total of three hours, which isn't too bad for two models and different lighting set-ups.

For the balance of the shoot, I switched the B/G light to a Rim light using my Strip box, but kept the key and fill.

I left the white muslin up instead of switching to my grey seamless, I need to drive to L.A. and pick up another Grey Seamless; my current one is depleted.  $44 for a year's use isn't too bad.

So What Did I Learn?

  • I need more space -  Actually just a taller space.  I really like the image I got of Lara, but my garage door opener and it's track kept getting in the way
  • Get casters for my Studio stands - The Boom stands are fairly heavy and moving them around is laborious, especially for minute adjustments
  • Use my PEN, iPad and Eye-Fi when shooting as a mock Polaroid - I used this set-up during my shoot with Heidi and Nikki and  it gave them an idea of how they looked and the lighting.  In fact the first image above was taken with the PEN
To date, I've photographed 14 models for my White Sheets, including some with tattoos.  I still would like to add more, but I'm tired of the same look and feel.

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