Beyond the Light

When I first started in photography, I worked long and hard to understand how to use lighting to create the best effect in my portraiture. I looked at everything from classical lighting styles to contemporary lighting styles. Interestingly enough, this has not changed during the years and I am still trying out new ideas in lighting. The goal – to be the best.

IMG_7462But, I am a photographic portrait artist. And while I believe that lighting is crucial to create an effective portrait, there is still another ingredient required. For me to consider a portrait successful, it has to show something of the subjects personality.

This is not easy to do. And, it is even more difficult to study.

Here is a case in point. I recently had the opportunity to photograph this young man. He was graduating from high school and this is why I was commissioned to do a portrait of him. While doing some planning around the portrait session, something I do for every LifeStyle portrait session, I learned that he and his family were moving from the house that he was born in and grew up in. Here was a young man that was going through some major changes.

I knew immediately that I wanted to do the portrait session in the old house. My next step was to go scout this location – it was perfect. The house was just over 100 years old and was going to be restored by the new owners. I checked into timing and discovered I had a narrow window of time that I could get into the house. A time when the family had moved out and deconstruction had not begun. My concept needed the house to be empty.

So everything checked out – the house was empty and I had permission to use it, my subject was excited around the concept and available when the house was, and the parents loved the conIMG_7393cept.

The day of the shoot was amazing. I got there and immediately set up my lighting and prepped for the session. From then on, it was just me and the young man. As always, things started off with the subject being a little uncomfortable, after all, he had never been in a “professional photo shoot” before.

But then we started to explore the old house and the stories started to come forward – and so did his personality. Every room that we went to had something special to the subject – the living room, his moms sewing room, the basement. The more we explored, the more I was able to discover who this young man was, and the more I was able to put his personality into the images. Images that I feel go beyond the light.


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