Monday, February 25, 2013

Photographing portraits in New York City: Part Two (Megan)

OK, I guess I should start this blog post by saying that this one makes me feel old. As it turns out, the subject of this post was just a little girl, living close to us here in Northern California, way back when. Megan was probably no more than 10 years old when I worked with her father. Even though they moved back to their hometown of Jacksonville, Florida about 15 years ago, we have kept in touch with her parents, Tom and Laurrie by phone, email and Facebook.

This photo (sent by the family) shows Megan and her little sister back in the 90s.

A couple of weeks ago, I received a call from Tom, telling me that their oldest son is getting married and wondering if I could photograph the wedding later this year. So, later this year we will be flying to North Carolina to photograph Trey's wedding. During one of our phone calls, I mentioned to Tom that I was heading out to NYC yet again. It was at that time that he mentioned that his middle child was living in the city and needed some new head shots for her acting portfolio. After exchanging some emails, Megan and I determined a time that would work for both of our schedules. And the plan was made.

It was great to see Megan after so long, all grown up and looking beautiful as ever. Megan and I decided to meet over by the High Line area in New York City to see if we could find some cool areas to shoot portraits of her. Since it is winter, and all the foliage is dormant, there wasn't a whole lot to work with. But then we came across these wooden steps, with great repeating lines, and made our first stop of the day.

Like so many photo sessions in the past, the first shots serve as a good warm up for myself and the subject. It is that time where I am trying to get my creative juices flowing and the subject is getting used to my working style. I started shooting wide shots, using the wood and the brick above Megan, but didn't like the separation line going through her head, so I asked her to move down another step.

Now we had a consistent pattern of wood behind her and I shot in tighter. Using the Canon 5D Mark III and shooting the Canon 70-200mm 2.8 IS lens wide open at f2.8, I separated Megan from the patterned background. I was also using the Canon 600EX-RT flash (one stop down) to throw a little bit of extra light on her.

Even though it was a bit chilly, Megan was a trooper and we tried some shots without her jeans jacket.

We finished shooting the first set of images on the wood steps and packed up to find another location. It wasn't more than 50 feet before I saw this painted brick wall and thought that it would make a good background for Megan. We shot some images here and then continued our search for more cool locations.

While walking on the High Line, I kept seeing small panels of rusted metal which I thought would be a perfect complimentary color to what Megan was wearing. I even said to her "I wish we could find some pieces of this metal large enough for a background." We did not see what I was looking for, so we descended the High Line for the city streets. And right as we reached the bottom of the steps, voila, a large wall in this exact same color.

This time, since we had really nice directional light coming from the street, I chose not to fire the flash. All natural light, and perfect for this shot.

Here is a tighter shot at the same location.

Megan and I were walking towards the Meat Packing District when I saw this one home with a decorated tree. It was half way down the street, but I knew that it had potential to make a great background. We walked down the street and I determined a place for Megan. I positioned Megan about 10 feet from the tree, and shot this photo at f2.8 to blur the harsh lights and turn them into a beautiful background. The old style street light (which I had not seen initially) was a bonus. I moved Megan to a point where I had her off center and well balanced with the light in the background. Once again, I used the Canon EX600-RT flash to throw some light on Megan. This is one of my favorite photos from the day.

I love integrating repeating patterns into my portraits. In this case, I saw these black columns and asked Megan to come out from behind one of the closer columns. Not only were the patterns interesting, but I was drawn to the blue and black colors which perfectly matched Megan's outfit. This image was shot with the Canon 24-105mm lens, which is my favorite "walk-around" lens.

We had finished shooting the photos for the day and were walking back towards Megan's apartment to say goodbye, when we walked by this great staircase. It was just too good to pass up, and I could not help myself. So I unpacked the gear for one last shot. And after seeing the final image, I am glad that we made this one last stop.

All in all, we spent about 2 hours shooting photos, and it was a ton of fun. Not only did we end up with some really nice photos for her, but we had a great time getting caught up. I am looking forward to seeing the rest of the family at the upcoming wedding!


Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

Great blog post Jeff! Enjoyed the photos (including the equipment specs you post) and the story that went with it. Truly captured the 2 hours with a great photo story.

Subhendu said...

Nice post jeff , enjoyed it .also agree with you , the photo with blurred decoration light is the best one!

Subhendu said...

Nice post jeff ! Enjoyed it ..
The picture with blurred decoration light background is the best one !

EastVan Photography said...

Nice shots Jeff, but in my opinion, I'd really ask Megan for different expressions or points of reference for her to look at. She has a beautiful smile, but it's very static, so all these shots look as if you are just shuffling around a mannequin, no offence to Megan of course, but I would shake it up some.

fantasypaintco said...

Jeff I am so glad to meet you through all your insight locations. I Love this shoot and I feel that it or they will all help even from just getting my eyes open to what the camera sees. I have been loving your tutorial.I think you ROCK so thanks for taking the time to teach me. I have learned so much