These images with Janette are in a different style and period, but the hat ties it into the look I did last week. It was fun to break out of my comfort zone and try to do a concept that was light and airy instead of dark and moody.
As per usual with my photography work, minimal retouching and effects achieve in camera.
This is a cross between dance and noir. A little Fred Astaire, Bob Fosse, and Humphrey Bogart rolled into one.
I couldn't really do my before and after with Ben. We've worked together many times and we are in sync when it comes to concept, styling, mood, etc. with our work. I saved this look for last due to the complex lighting setup. However, looking through the set, we nailed the first look with the very first frame. Now that is an in sync collaboration.
This post demonstrates what a difference it makes to have a professional photographer instruct you on the best way to present yourself. Models are not just pretty people who stand in front of the camera. They know how to rapidly pose and give expressions. Everyone else might have one or two go to stances, but that's it. A portrait photographer has to know how to pose people because 99% of the time, they are not photographing models.
After working with her and instructing her how to pose, I was able to get expression and a workable pose. The goal of the session was not to create glamorous images, but to create mood and feeling. Below we have nicely posed hands expressing tension with pulling the sweater and we have a direct, intense gaze fitting the tension of the hands.
The after image:
This post serves to demonstrate how coaching and communication can change the results of a portrait. The prior post of Cynthia was from he "warm up." I wanted her to get comfortable before we jumped into the session. Not many people are comfortable in front of a camera. It's even harder when you are meeting someone for the first time. You feel awkward and reserved. I like to get to know a person and study their personality and natural starting points before going into a session. I can then craft images that work with who they are.
The following images are the after...after I got to know Cynthia, studied her posture, then coached and co-ordinated wardrobe for the looks so that's she'd have some lovely portraits. The reality is that clients are not models. They do not know how to pose or present themselves for the camera and that is okay. It is my job to make you look your best. You can relax knowing that I will help you with that. The majority of the people in my galleries are not models so you can rest easy knowing you are not alone.
A sweet person wearing a comfortable and oversized shirt called for an image that was completely about them. A simple background, uncomplicated lighting and black and white image takes the focus off of distracting elements and makes the image all about the person. This image is all about Cynthia's genuine smile and personality. It was such a pleasure to meet such a sweet and kind person.
It's always a pleasure working with actors. They bring expressions to a concept that without it, would just be another empty, meaningless image.
Jarod wanted to portray sadness and depression. We discussed the theme and I decided to light the background with a shadow breaking up the light and representing the darkness of depression descending upon Jarod.
Jarod and I then worked together to tell the story, perfect the poses, and get the exact expression.
I want to take a moment to discuss depression. It is real. There is nothing glamorous about it. The image of the depressed and tortured artist shouldn't be celebrated. As a child of someone who struggles with depression, I want to talk about its affect on the people around them. In the media, we hear the worst cases of those left behind after someone commits suicide. However, there's more to it than that. There's the people surrounding this person who throw their love and support at them like moths to a depression-fueled flame.
Depression is a mental illness, but it is also selfish. The depressed person has developed depression as a lifestyle. In a way, their misery has given them purpose and direction. When this happens, depressed people become invested in being negative and miserable. They become somewhat comfortable with being miserable because it allows them to argue, say ugly things to people, and gain attention. They feel permitted to be mean. It’s actually hard for them to imagine how their life would be different if they weren’t depressed.
Grief can trigger depression. While no one ever gets over the loss of a loved one, depressed people let it drag out without seeking help from professionals. They bring all friends and family down with them. It becomes more than grief. Depressed people become a sponge and no matter what those around them do, it's not enough. They compare their pain, always thinking their pain is worse than anyone else's pain. They don't want to face the fact that no one should compare grief and pain. Everyone suffers differently. When they ruin relationships around them and cut people out because they don't want to hear logic, it's a problem.
The people throwing themselves at someone who is depressed suffer. They will need therapy and they will need to learn that they can't help someone who doesn't want to be helped. Additionally, no one can have a relationship with someone who doesn't communicate. There comes a time when those around a depressed person who doesn't want help need to walk away. Otherwise, they will be pulled into the downward, dark spiral.
A few things you can do to help yourself:
Below is the series of images from my session with Jarod on the theme of death and depression:
I was inspired by a ballet dancers for this look, but instead of concentrating on the dance moves, I wanted to concentrate on the expressions that they also perform for their characters. I made the headpiece and added the eye makeup for this look.