a few types o' portraits

One of my friends recently had a baby. This is relatively new for me; despite being 'of age', very few of my close friends have come to procreate. (Yet.) So when I told this friend that I would love to come and meet his baby, he invited me over and asked me to bring my camera. YES!

I've never shot newborns before, but I figured that there can't be much to it - they look so damned cute regardless of what the camera does. And I was right! What a beautiful picture of a beautiful baby.

Here's a couple with Dad a little more involved. They're so lovely, and one of the nicest things is, they really don't need a lot of forethought or analysis; they are gorgeous simply because of what is in them.

Now, I'm not saying Jim isn't naturally gorgeous... but these photos took a lot of forethought! Which is because, unlike some casual snapshots of a friend, these are carefully planned press shots for the one and only Grizzly Jim Lawrie. I'd never purposely gone after sun glare (aka lens flare) before, and I wasn't sure how easy it would be to achieve. But we both agreed that regardless of actual glare, we wanted to capitalise on the early evening golden sunshine - my favourite kind of light. As it turned out, the flare worked pretty beautifully too!

The first two of Jim are being used as press photos. I liked this one, but he thought it looked like he was holding some kind of intergalactic weapon. Fair enough.

So in the first instance, it was a friend's baby, where I could shoot however I wanted - very natural, very spontaneous and organic. Then there was the music press shot, where creativity is still prized, but you work within certain boundaries to achieve a previously agreed-upon goal. Now we have what is perhaps the least flexible type of portrait I've ever done: the actor's headshot.

I did quite a lot of research to figure out what kind of guidelines, or rules, existed when it came to professional headshots. My understanding is that agents and casting directors (is that what they're called?) generally don't want anything too 'different' - which for me means no grain, no wacky angles, no warped colours, no candid moments. It was an interesting challenge, and I think this image was a good result. I shot Rachel from above because everyone looks better like that (there's a reason all the stupid girls take their selfies with arms stretched up to the bloody ceiling), and I used a film with natural tones and fine grain. Look who knows if this is a desirable outcome in terms of the industry - but you can see her face, she looks pretty, it doesn't look airbrushed, and it doesn't look like she's advertising toilet spray. Also, Rachel likes it. So as far as I'm concerned, it's a winner.

Is there a conclusion to this somewhat strange mixture of portraits? Well, I guess it's that portraits vary a lot! But perhaps also this: even the most straightforward, rigid type of portrait can engage if you connect with your subject and capture something of who they are. (OK I guess that's not technically a conclusion, in that I haven't specifically discussed it in the body of the post, but I still think it's true so it will remain my final thought.)

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