The last month has been senior portrait time for me, as many of our friend's kids get ready to graduate high school and head off to college. One of the first senior portrait sessions was with Emma, who was just awesome in front of the camera.
We started off in my own backyard since we had good light and flowers in bloom. Normally, I use this time to shoot some warm-up images to get my subject used to being in front of the camera, but Emma was a natural. (Photographer's note: For all of these images, I did not use any flash, but instead used a Westcott Gold/Silver reflector to bounce some warm light on Emma, thanks to my wife who was my chief lighting technician for the day. All images were captured with the Canon 1DX, with this shot using the 70-200mm 2.8 IS II lens.)
This is a tighter crop of the same images. (Photographer's note: To those starting out in photography, notice how Emma's eye closest to the camera is in perfectly focus. This is critical for these types of photos. Also notice how the half of Emma's face is lit and half falls into shadow. This lighting creates drama in the face. My wife was holding the reflector to the side of the subject and feathering the light to just the right side of her face. This could not have been achieved with on-camera flash, since the flash would have lit her face evenly.)
After shooting in our yard for a couple of minutes, we headed off to a nearby park. This location has some great trees, so we used the patterns of the tree trunks as backgrounds for Emma.
This same park has a raised stage area with this wood supports. I saw the repeating lines of the posts and had Emma peak out from behind them. (Photographer's note: I shot this image at f2.8 so that only Emma's face would be perfectly in focus. With the foreground and background soft, it draws the viewers eye right to Emma's eyes.)
Same image processed in B&W (using NIK SilverEfex Pro)
Whenever I shoot, even if I am returning to a location where I have photographed before, I always look for a new vantage point or perspective for each client. I do this for two reasons: First, I do not want every senior to have the same looking images as their friends, and secondly, to make it more fun and interesting for me as the photographer.
This photo was taken next to the park at a nearby Inn. I walked over and saw this great curved pathway and LOVED it. For this shot, I used the Canon 50mm f1.2 lens wide open at 1.2. So nice!
This is the same image as before, but I decided to have some fun with it. I created two layers in Photoshop (one color and one B&W) and then combined the two using layer masks.
We finished shooting by the Inn, and were walking to our car when I saw this tree in the parking lot. Doing my best to avoid any cars which were parked nearby (which I later removed the little that did show in Photoshop), I had Emma get on the tree for the next two photos.
For the third location, we decided to drive into the hills to shoot images in a small creek that we had seen before.
Remember when I said that I did not use a flash for any of these photos? Well, I lied. This photo was taken with the Canon 600EX-RT flash on-camera. It was actually a test shot since my wife was not ready with the reflector. I still like the photo, even though the light is rather flat on her face.
This photo was taken using the reflector. You can definitely see the difference in the amount of light on Emma's face and body. You see many more shadows and highlights in this shot. What I really love about these images, is the reflection of Emma in the slow moving water.
Most people think that, in a portrait, the subject should be looking directly at the camera. This is a great example of why that is not true. I asked Emma to look down at the water and just think about this time in her life, as she completes high school and makes the big change to college. She is not looking at us, but you can still "see" who she is and feel her emotion. And that my friends, is what photography is all about!