portrait photography

New York Times portrait Assignment

Editorial portrait assignments are without a doubt my favorite to shoot. I love working with real people in new locations, the collaboration with a writer, and trying to tell or summarize a story visually through an image or two. The added benefit is the creative freedom that is typically given, and (usually) the overall pace and stress is a lot lower than a commercial or advertising assignment. My latest was an assignment from the NY Times, asking for an accompany image for a story on "Payday Loan" locations, and some new government restrictions on their extreme lending/interest rates. If you have ever looked into it, they are a pretty terrible business model that keep people trapped in poverty cycles without an easy escape, and make credit card debt look fun in comparison. Anyway, back to the assignment. The photo editor at the Times called me on Tuesday night, and needed the image shot and delivered the next morning... not always possible, but luckily I had the morning free. The location was in Bloomington, about a 45 min drive. Once we met our subject(Candice), I did a quick location scout around her apartment building, and came up with my primary shot, a back up shot, and then set up a big white reflector to use as a neutral background for a tight portrait at the end. I decided to shoot my back up shot first, just to start getting Candice comfortable in front of the camera and my self. Once that was knocked out we quickly moved outside to the porch for my primary image. I was really in love with the porch because of the beautiful colors and plants available. To me, the porch also represents not only the comfort her home, but the fact that she is free to keep moving towards her future as well. I wanted to strike that balance in the image as best as possible. The colour relationships were exceptional as well - the soft blue of the sky backing the stark red brick, and the greenish yellow details of the watering can and plants were very pleasing. We set up a small octabox to the left of the frame, in the same position as the sun to help fill out some shadows and give Candice separation from the background, without it looking unnaturally lit to the human eye. We shot this scene for about 10 minutes before heading around to the side of the building in the shade to shoot the portrait on white... but more on that later, as it will be the next piece of my 52 Portraits project.  Thanks for reading, and hit up the comments with any questions. 

You can also read Times article here.