I don’t often consider my photos to be very “High Concept” or even art sometimes. In fact i have to tell models I work with all the time that I am terrible with coming up with ideas and concepts. I sometimes even have a hard time calling my artist because of this. I get around this by thinking of myself as more of an improve artist making things up as I go along instead of having a ton of prep time behind something. Lucky for me the recent shoot I did with Mary Jane Monroe had the high concept feel to it because of her own ideas all I really had to do was shoot. One thing that I differently in this shoot was try to implement scenery a bit more in the shots which is something that I need to work on but came out quite well in the finished product.
It doesn’t get much better than golden hour on a slightly cloudy day, and that’s exactly what I got when I had the chance to work with Joy again. This time she dressed up as Daenerys Targaryen from the incredibly popular show Game of Thrones to shoot out in the Albuquerque Bosque.
The lighting that we got on that day couldn’t have gotten any closer than perfect even if it wanted to. Slightly cloudy, about an hour before sunset it gave me the ability to essentially shoot any way that I wanted and so I decided to try something different than I normally do. Most of the time I’m shooting at apretures between f2.8 and f4 but I wanted to play with shooting more wide open. So much of the shoot was done between f1.8 to f2.5 on my 85mm 1.8g lens.
I shot at the larger apertures specifically to get the shallow depth of fields that created a very dream like quality to the images. I’m normally very apprehensive about shooting wide open because while the effect is beautiful it becomes very difficult to nail sharp focus. That being said it’s not impossible; while at f2.8 and f3.5 my 85mm is tack sharp I was still really impressed with the sharpness I was getting at f1.8 and f2 and I still got to keep the dream like bokeh.
When it comes to shoots, locations always have to make sense. Lucky enough for me Albuquerque has an endless supply of locations. The easiest choice for the character Joy chose was the Albuquerque Bosque. It looks fairly remote and lush and allowed for a very clear backdrop.
The thing that I consistently need to work on is directing my subjects. Directing is one of those skills that really take time to get good at and almost every situation is different. Joy is one of those wonderful to work with in that regard. She comes from a performance background so she’s uses to making small adjustments even when they seem insignificant and she has an understanding of the big difference those small adjustments can make.
One thing I want to improve in my portraits is making them more dynamic. Doing things compositionally to create a higher level of visual interest. Part of that is thinking differently about how I shoot and also about how I post process. I like to think of myself as a purist, with my shooting doing the bulk of the work in camera and doing basic and minor adjustments in Lightroom afterwards. While I still believe getting things right in camera is critical I’m trying to spend more time in post making images the best they possibly can be.