I was just starting to find my stride as a portrait photographer. Reaching out to numerous models, I set out on a project that would force me to crawl out of my shell. Things got underway beginning with the lovely “Lady in Yellow”, Laurel Sein. Today, six and a half years later, I look back on a session where, feeling naive and lacking confidence, we created images that I continue to consider favorites.
At the time, my setup consisted of a white, vinyl backdrop (still in use!), a single studio strobe (Alien Bee 400), and a single speed light. The simple two-light setup was a challenge with the high-key look I was looking to create. The primary issue was putting enough light on the backdrop and cutting the shadows as much as possible without spilling too much light on my subject. I lacked the proper modifiers to control the light, so proper placement was essential.
Looking back at the images with the Lady in Yellow, I think the lighting was the least of my challenges. In many ways, I have still not overcome some of the obstacles I face every session. Therein lies one of the reasons I am driven to continue my pursuit of photography. It does not come easy. There is no session that fails to force me to push myself in some way.
Presenting the Lady In Yellow (December 2011)
More recently, I have been working to increase my skill set. I want to become more thoughtful about everything involving a session. Lighting, especially,is becoming more a part of the stories I try to tell. On this path, however, I find myself distracted by the technical side of things. This is par for the course with me. While I have a long way to go to master lighting, I know that I must turn my attention to becoming more connected with my subject, our story, and the magic that happens when it all comes together.
Whether as a model or photographer, what is your most significant challenge today?