A dear friend, Tammy (Tammy Jaqueline Snipe) who does modelling and becoming an accomplished photographer, was a couple of months away from having her second child, that I now know is a girl, decided to sit for me.
I wanted to do something different from the norm of a women with baby bump, and so we talked at length about how we would go about it. Tammy has great deal of knowledge of being in a studio and what can be achieved. We looked at clothing, style, accessories, backdrop and lighting.
Tammy is one that likes to change her hair style and colour, and so when we first spoke I asked what colour hair she had this month? “Purple” was the answer that came back, and I thought this is going to make a cool shoot.
For inspiration, I always find it useful to look at Pinterest for looks and styles and I came across an image where the model was wearing a tiara, and so I asked Tammy if she would consider wearing one, this would give a chance for some headshots which could look interesting. The tiara theme lead Tammy to digging out a long blue gown and had some material that looked like mesh that we could use in the shoot. I had used eBay to find a tiara that looked blingy and was cheap enough for the shoot and had sent Tammy photos to make sure she was happy with it. For most of my studio work, I use a grey backdrop. Black can look over powering and colours that are dark can get lost in the shot, and white can be to cold unless you want the subject to be defined in detail, so grey is more of a neutral colour to work with.
My studio is what many would call a popup studio as I work from home and we have a large kitchen thats perfect for portrait work, and is surprising how much equipment I can setup which includes a boom. I work with one or two lights at a time in a shoot and use an array of different softboxes or bar doors. My setup is tethering my camera to my MacBook and using PhaseOne Capture One. I can’t use Lightroom like most because I use Sony A99II which I recently upgrade from version one, the great thing about Capture One is that I can setup a wifi connection between the MacBook and my iPad Pro so I and the model can see the images in realtime in almost A4 size as they are taken. Once the shoot is done, then I import the images into Lightroom and work between that and Photoshop in my post editing.
For theses shots I used my boom and Tammy kindly sat on the floor so I could get shots from almost looking from above, not easy from a wheelchair point of view, but it shows that I can’t be held back. I like getting the The Rembrandt Triangle on the face (if you dont know what this is you can look it up) as its beautiful soft shadow on the face. Tammy makes it look the part, but when working with someone, you have to build that communication and trust. As the images begin to take shape, I look at the fine detail, how the hair sits, the hand and fingers in the right place. I feel its the fine detail that’s important in an image and not just knocking of shot after shot, the most I will take in a shoot is maybe 100, and this is down to being able to see the image in a large format on a screen. Its hard to take a shot and then try and show the sitter the image on a small screen on the back of the camera.
The baby bump
I had thought about how soft I wanted the final look to have and so I used a small table and large candle to be just in front of Tammy to be part of the image. It’s a classical look to a baby still in the womb and a candle lit for the child, bring mother and baby close together in thought and touch.
When using a table in front of the sitter, you can end up looking to much over the table as if you are pointing the camera at the table, you then get this odd circle that doesn’t fit the whole image. So you have to get down to the point that the table top looks more flatter and a realistic view, while not looking up at the sitter, so you have to be set back at that right distance for the shot to come together, you can only do this by looking through the viewfinder.
I wanted the images to look so the mother is at one with the child she carry’s, so having the hands hold the bump in a certain way was so important as well as looking at the candle light in thought of love and feeling.
At the end of the shoot, Tammy and I looked through the images and I know she was happy and so was I. It’s great when an idea comes to you that the sitter understands just as well, its like an emotional experience thats between you and the sitter comes together to make something from the things that you put together in thought. The editing is so much easier to do when you have the camera and lighting setup correctly.
This is what I love about portraiture, you find the sole and emotion in the sitter that defines the image you generate together, its a partnership built on the thought process put together be both of you.