Monday, December 24, 2012

A Rose for Emily

I belong to a camera club called Images Alberta Camera Club here in Edmonton. Every second meeting is a competition night. They release the competition themes for the next year in the late spring before the club goes on hiatus for the summer. One of the themes for the 2012/13 year particularly caught my attention - "Song Titles". This combines two things I'm passionate about - music, and telling stories with photography.

I spent much of my spare time in the spring and summer thinking about and planning pictures around this theme.

I thought about the Zombies song "A Rose for Emily", which tells a story which I embellish and give my own description here (this is an exact copy of what I emailed the model when I was asking if she'd participate):
The photo is a story of a young woman - likely 24 or 25. Up to this point in her life, she has treated "love" as a bit of a sport; not taken it seriously at all, and leaving many broken hearts in her wake. Now she is ready to settle down with someone special, but she's not sure how to trust (or if she should trust) her heart to a man since she's stepped on many hearts in the past. How can she now know her heart will now be well treated? She's left in the wake of her past looking over her shoulder trying to move forward.
I found a great model for this - someone with dark hair with a bit of colour in it, to add a bit of depth to the picture. She's the daughter of a friend of ours in the neighbourhood - Megan.

ISO 100, f/8.0, 1/100 s, 58mm, Canon 24-105mm  f/4.0L

Overall, I'm very pleased with how the image turned out. There are a few things that I learned from this photo shoot.

The first thing: when inviting a model into your studio, if you're shooting a concept, be very specific with how you want them presented. I was very specific  on the dress, and the hair. But I didn't think about her nails at all. It's very subtle, but if you look on her right hand, you can see that she has one nail with the tip painted red, the rest have white tips. I tired to modify it with Photoshop, but my PS skills were not what they are now.

The second lesson was to work with a good makeup artist (MUA). While Megan did her makeup and looked wonderful, the low key nature of the shot mutes her efforts for the most part. I would like her cheek and lips highlighted a bit more. More on MUA's in future posts.

Last thing: I had her in an uncomfortable position for quite a while. Shoulders perpendicular to the axis of the camera lens, and her head turned at an uncomfortable angle. She was a trooper, and did an AMAZING job! In the "neck twist" that I had her in, any model with ANY body type, the skin around the neck has natural folds which are unflattering. I used Photoshop to clean up the neck folds to present a more pleasing image.

Lighting description: two mono lights each with 24x36 inch soft boxes flanking her on the right and left, placed behind her and at a 45 degree angle towards the camera, creating the rim light on her arms and subtly highlighting her figure. One mono light with a snoot on the rose. A fourth light above and behind her, pointing down and towards the camera as a hair light.

During the photo shoot itself, it was a lot of the cycle of: directing-shoot-chimp-directing-shoot-chimp...

Megan did a great job, and the image in my mind's eye is presented here for you today!

Please tell me your thoughts on the image. What do you like? Is there anything you don't like?

Thanks!

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