As a reportage photographer rapidly developing stories, unpredictable action and consequently fast shutter speeds tend to be my primary domain. But within those .somethings of a second that I ultimately capture I always seek to find a truth - to reveal something, some essence, big or small of the subjects and scenes in front of me that I can give back to the viewer to help them understand not just what was happening but who the people in these photographs really are.
BY BERT STEPHANI
A friend asked me to show him how to shoot simple, elegant portraits and so he set up a shoot for us with a lovely young German student. In a way this was pure comfort zone stuff for me but it made me become aware that I’m often overthinking portraiture. In the pursuit of killer-images my mind gets away from the person in front of my camera. For this series I kept it super simple: My X-Pro2, the 35mm 1.4 and the 56mm 1.2 and a big window.
My friend’s next question was: what if I don’t have a window? I usually don’t light with a huge soft light source because it just seems too easy. But why would that be a bad thing? I hadn’t used a softlighter-type modifier for ages because it’s impossible to control. But on the other hand, it just pumps out a bunch of pretty light which gave me and my subject room to move.
We then went outside in a non-descript residential area to see if we could find good light and interesting backgrounds there. I think we did.
In many ways this shoot was effortless and if the wheels in my head were spinning it was just because I was trying to explain how my intuition works to my friend. I was pleasantly surprised by how the images came out and how enjoyable the process was. I’ll keep it in mind not always to try so hard but just enjoy the shoot, the light, the company.