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Sunday, September 23, 2012

My First Glamour Portraits :: Learning to Love My Mistakes

The sun was setting behind the fields of St. Andrews and as the minutes ticked by on my hot-pink plastic wristwatch I got more and more nervous. Shannon and her mum were driving to my house for an evening photo shoot and I was worried they weren't going to make it in time. I'd asked them to come along at 4pm so we could start shooting at 5pm and finish by 7pm (just as it got dark). They were running late so we didn't start hair & make-up until 6pm so we started taking photos at 7pm. The light was gone! I was trying to shoot glamour by twilight. It wasn't working for me, or rather, I didn't know how to work with it.

I did my best (trying not to let them know that I was absolutely FREAKING OUT inside!). I lowered my apature & lost clarity. I raised my ISO and the images got grainy. I turned on my (yellow) ceiling lights in an attempt to illuminate their faces (eek, I know!). Why I didn't just resort to using a flash? I don't know. 

Not surprisingly, Shannon & Irene's portraits were badly lit (MY FAULT!) and their skin was that horrible orange colour with so much unfixable noise. Plus, at this point I was still very very new to posing women, which didn't help my awkward image situation — shoulders too high, hands in odd positions, stiff facial expressions etc... Not pretty. 

In the end, I was able to resort to one of my favourite things in the world...BLACK & WHITE. I just love how simply removing colour from an image has the potential to turn it from a photographic failure into a piece of art (sometimes). 

So all that said, please allow me to now introduce to you Shannon & Irene.... 
I got a bit of a 1960's vibe from Shannon (above). Her second portrait makes me think of The Beatles.

It's funny...up until now I've been somewhat embarrassed by these images. My embarrassment had nothing to do with Shannon & Irene but rather the quality of the image itself (technically speaking). After writing this blog post, and reflecting on the lessons I've learned from my mistakes, I have suddenly developed a great fondness for these images. I now see them as special souvenirs from a stage of my exciting journey. 
Shannon & Irene became my first mother-daughter glamour portrait.
Looking back on their shoot, I now realised that I was hindering myself by setting too many limits. I only knew one way of doing a photo shoot and that's why I felt so panicked and lost when things weren't going the way I planned. I was restricting myself to "I only use natural light." and "I only shoot indoors." 

Now I know, I am allowed to think outside the box. I can be shoot with flash when I need to. Just because no other glamour photographers shoot in a field doesn't mean I can't. As Kevin Kubota said this week on creativeLIVE, "(In photography) if you like it, it's right!" I am now experimenting with giving myself the freedom to be different to how I have been in the past. Maybe I'll discover something new?