For this final assignment, the choice of subject is yours; the only proviso is that the subject should be one from this course- people and/or places they inhabit. You then to imagine what the basic client brief would be, which will mean thinking from the other side of the fence- what someone commissioning a photographer might want. Write yourself the brief so that you can refer back to it. Having assigned yourself the brief, you now need to complete it. You need to submit between 8-12 photographs.
I was excited upon reading the assignment brief, as it lent itself to more originality and creativity than previous assignments. In planning for my assignment, I had two varying shoots in mind. My choice was between a new-born photo shoot, which was something I have never carried out previously, and so would be a great challenge. Or a child’s photo shoot, which was a genre that I have had a lot of experience with, and so would be a strong choice, but definitely less of a challenge. You will find this initial planning here. I decided from this planning, that I would carry out both photo shoots, and then decide on the strongest upon review of the final images.
Prior to beginning these shoots, I did some research into Portrait Photography. Firstly, I showed the style of photography which I love, in the form of popular local photographers whom I greatly admire. Their images provided me with an idea of the standard necessary in order to please a client. I took note from their techniques and ideas, as they have a large client base who regularly provide briefs to follow, and they appear to be successful in completing these to a high standard. This results in clients returning time and time again. I researched specifically their images in child and new-born photography in order to gain compositional ideas and unique methods. You will find this research here.
Secondly, I researched Portrait Photographer Edouard Boubat. This talented photographer captures amazing and romantic portraits. I took tips from his strong relationship with his subjects, his amazing attitude of capturing the positive in even the worst situations of this world, his ability to tell a story in a single frame, and lastly, his unbelievably passion for capturing people. I implemented all these techniques in my final assignment, especially his positive imagery, and his emphasis on creating a strong relationship with his subjects.
I carried out both photo shoots very successfully, but decided that the strongest finished selection was from the New-Born photo shoot. Therefore, my client would be the baby’s mother. The purpose of the assignment is informal, and the images will be used for the client’s personal use, i.e. framed, or sent to family members. The assignment asks that we assign ourselves a brief. However, I felt that it would be more realistic if I had my client assign me the brief, as would be in real life. Therefore, prior to this shoot, I provided my client with a simple form to fill out in order to gain a detailed idea of the brief she would like me to follow. You will find this brief here.
My client suggested that she would like both a mixture of white background shots, as well as more relaxed ones around their home. I took this into consideration, planning to capture both a selection of images of New-Born Adam on a white fluffy blanket background, as well as some in his cot, and other areas of their home. For my backdrop, I purchased a large white blanket, and intended to use a backdrop stand which I already had. I planned to capture the baby with just a nappy on (I would have liked naked baby shots, however I felt the mess of this would have put unnecessary stress on the mother). I did not want the large nappy to remove from the success of the shoot. Therefore, I also purchased a cute wool nappy cover to cover his nappy. This worked superbly well, and the results were exactly as I had hoped. Prior to the shoot, I also decided that I would use my 50mm prime lens due to any potential lack of light that might occur in the home. This was an excellent decision, as the room we were in was very dark, yet was in fact the lightest room we could find in their house. I also took along my 18-55mm lens as a back-up. This was also a good decision, as the mother decided she wanted shots with her son, so I needed a wider-angle to fit them both in the frame. All my planning came together well, and you can see my final images below.
I stuck to the client brief accurately, however, as mentioned previously, during the shoot, the mother decided she would like some photos with her son. Therefore, this shows that the photographer needs to be flexible when it comes to the brief, bearing in mind that the client may adjust their requirements as the shoot progresses. The mother also asked that she be made to appear slightly thinner in her photos, as she was feeling self-conscious after her pregnancy. I was able to easily implement both these requests, and the mother was very pleased with the results. Another problem I incurred was that the room simply was not large enough for my backdrop stand due to bulky furniture which would have caused the stand to be set up too far away from the natural window light. Therefore, I improvised quickly, and simply draped the large blanket over the sofa nearest the window. This worked well, as the baby was now cushioned further, and so was much more comfortable. However, the positioning of the baby into poses was more difficult due to the slope of the sofa. This required more care and attention, but the finished results were great.
Below you will find my final selection of eight images for this assignment.
Image 1- The windows and fireplace were lined with many cards from friends and family with well wishes for this family’s new arrival. The amount of cards was down to the amazing story of this couple. They had been trying for twenty years to have a baby of their own without success, and had finally resorted to other methods to have a child, all of which remained unsuccessful. Just as they were about to give up, Delene fell pregnant naturally. This was a huge miracle, and the couple truly deserved this little bundle of joy. Therefore the specialness of these cards is evident. I simply couldn’t capture this baby boy without capturing the celebration and joy felt by friends who shared in this amazing journey with the family. Therefore, this is a great opening shot to this set of images.
Image 2- This was my favourite image out of the set. I positioned the baby so that his head was resting on folded arms. This worked in angling his head towards the camera, and creating a very cute pose. I got tips on positioning a new-born through my research into local portrait photographers. I converted the image to black and white in order to bring out the texture of the lovely wrinkles on the baby’s forehead. This is a very serene and relaxed photo; in fitting with those special moments where the new baby is sound asleep, and the world is at peace.
Image 3- We now begin to see a little more of Baby Adam. The eyes are the sole focus of this image, and I angled the subject’s head towards the window in order to create a glimmer in his eyes. This sparkle creates personality and character, and begins to show the real little life that has just entered the world. This brings out the style of Edouard Boubat, a photographer who captured positive images showing the love and joy in all people. I converted this image to black and white also. This again brings out the texture in the subject’s tiny fingers, and cute folds of puppy fat.
Image 4- In this image, I decided to get a full body shot of the subject. The nappy cover I used worked wonders, and adds a nice element to the image. The new-born’s eyes are open once again, creating a nice connection with the viewer. This is difficult to achieve with a new-born, as they are mostly asleep, so I was very lucky to achieve these shots. I kept this image in colour so as to show the pale blue of the nappy cover in the frame; adding another colour element to the shot.
Image 5- I then began to get some documentary style images around the client’s home; as requested by the parents. I captured baby Adam in his cot, and managed to get this lovely shot of his hand reaching out through the bars. This provides a nice narrative; as the viewer tries to create a story behind this ominous photo. Again this uses Edouard Boubat’s technique of telling a story in a single frame. “The art of the portrait is close to that of a novel. In its own way it proposes a story. It liberates the imagination.(1)”
Image 6- The Mother; Delene then suggested that she would actually like some photos with Adam. Therefore, I switched lenses to enable me to fit both subjects in the frame. However, my new lens didn’t have wide enough aperture capabilities, and thus I needed more light. Considering this, I positioned both subjects at the window, and instructed Delene to kiss Adam. This results in a beautiful image capturing a precious moment between mother and son. I converted the image to black and white, as I felt that colour distracted from the subjects.
Image 7- I captured one more photo of mother and son. This time, I focussed entirely on the baby, cutting the mother partially out of the frame. The subjects focus automatically goes towards the eyes in the frame; and so by only including Adam’s eyes, this results in an image solely focussed on him, but with the context of the mother still remaining, and her wide smile evident to the viewer. I adjusted the exposure in order to over-expose the image, and show the sunlight streaming through the window onto both subjects. I used the clone stamp tool in Photoshop to remove a little weight on the subject’s chin in both shots that she is present, as outlined in the client brief.
Image 8- The client had asked that I capture a photo of her baby’s feet. She had seen this done before, and loved the effect. Therefore, this final image shows well how I followed the brief explicitly. I feel that this image finishes of the set nicely, and is a lovely peaceful shot signifying the end of the shoot, as baby Adam is left in his cot to fall asleep.
(1) Grenier, Roger (2010), A Box of Photographs, University of Chicago Press.