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Without doubt one of my most enjoyable studio sessions was with these three wonderful young people. It was such a laugh that at times it felt like we were just being silly and playing around. Even asking them to look “up, down, up, down” resulted in hysterics that even yours truly could not even resist
I have been trying to get these three into my studio for months; I knew they were all leaving for a new life at University. As a photographer, and more intimately as documentary of moments, I really wanted to get a photograph of them together for them, for their mother Lynn and for me.
I have known these three and watched them grow up over the past 6 years and have grown very fond of them so doing this for them would be my gift of blessing them in a small way. Being typical teenagers they resisted for ages but I think the realization that they are leaving home and going their own way made them pause and understand where they are now.
They were initially quite shy and unsure of how to behave which is perfectly normal. The worse thing I can say is “relax” which is what a lot of amateur photographers say.
I started calibrating the lighting and asked Wesley to be by Guinea Pig by standing in front of the screen. Poor lad didn’t know how to stand so I do what I always do, I just talk to him and tell him these are just test shots and won’t be used (that’s a bit of a lie). He relaxed very quickly and I fired off some great shots, in the meantime Sarah and Nancy were sat on my sofa laughing and ribbing their brother. Next I asked Nancy if I could do some “calibration” shots with her.
Nancy was incredibly comfortable with me; she just lit and smiled without any need for direction from me. Once again, just like Wesley, she is incredibly photogenic. It was no trouble at all getting the right shots with only minimal direction from me. In fact, we were just chatting normally as we always do except this time I was taking photos. Oh and lots of giggling from all three as well.
Last but not least for my test shots was Sarah. Being the last one up she quickly understood how to stand naturally and for once she had to do as she was told by me. With some minor adjustments to her hair and stance I captured some very special shots. She is easily photogenic and was just a matter of making adjustments to my lighting to make it all work.
Fun was the theme for the evening; I was asking them to be with each other that they may not have found comfortable. I think the girls were comfortable with hugging but Wesley needed a bit more coaching. This resulting in more giggling and banter; this was a good thing as it meant I got their natural smiles. They did their part, I just had to be sure they were looking at me while they were laughing!
I used a variety of techniques to make the most of the 2 hours with them; I asked them to bring different changes of clothing especially a white top which is crucial to unify the look. I also used a black background with a strong key light to get a more moody shot. I even used my Ikea soft for the first time to get some natural sitting down shots. For the final round I went back to a white screen and just tried to make them laugh with tried and reliable photography techniques including one where it took several attempts because of their infectious giggling.
I swear by the end of it my cheeks were hurting from just laughing so much, but all too soon it was over.
Personally, I am very pleased with the results. I accomplished what I set out to do; get some great photographs of the nicest, kindest (and very smart) friends, and finally capture some moments for their mum to treasure.