Tuesday, 30 December 2008

These are a few of my favourite things.

All photographers have their favourite subjects and projects. My own is probably still-life photography, in which I can - and often do - lose myself for hours on end; occasionally without even creating something I feel is worth printing. But I do love all the creative alchemy that goes into making - rather than taking - a picture.

Second on my list of favourites has to be family portraiture. I do love taking children's portraits and I can usually build a rapport with children very quickly - possibly 'cause I haven't grown up much myself in the last 50 years, and they can sense the 'Granpa' in me - and that's important when the subject is a wee bit shy. But, on a personal level, I enjoy shooting family groups more than individuals; the dynamics of a family are so easy to interpret, making the photographic capture all the easier to perform. Having a family group interacting with each other within the confines of a studio is a fantastic experience. The very fact that they are all together, usually dressed especially for the occasion but, at the same time, totally out of the comfort zones of the places they normally visit, means that they always seem to want to express themselves a little more: smiles come easily, jokes are told, laughter resounds off the walls. Really, all I have to do is just make sure the batteries don't run out on the equipment!

Such was the case recently when I had the fortune to work with Carolyn & Kenny and their daughters. The fact that I did little direction during the shoot is testament to the fact that they enjoyed the experience and that Carolyn got really involved; directing the latter part of the shoot herself in an effort to make sure that she got the pictures she wanted, rather than have me construct them for her. Such collaboration is always welcome; it makes for a far more productive shoot and, in consequence, a much more intimate and tailored portfolio of pictures.

Carolyn called after she received her prints to say that she loved them, and I think that her own participation in their creation made them more special to her. My only disappointment was that I didn't have more time to work with Kenny and his new daughter. The shots of them both together were taken at the end of a two hour sitting and the wee one was beginning to tire of all the activity. But I'd love to have them back again to take up where we left off.

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