The Self and The Other

OCA study blog | Andrew Fitzgibbon

A5: Approach to shoot

I needed two types of subject – one of the woods themselves and one of the people using the woods. The woods themselves don’t move around or need any persuasion to be photographed, but the people are of course different.

I would be approaching people for ad hoc portraits in the woods, so I would need to be persuasive and also to work quickly – I would be interrupting what ever they were already doing and the outside temperature has been around 2 degrees recently. It would also be difficult to carry heavy lighting equipment into the woods and protect it from the weather.

While I rarely shoot with the flash on camera, I decided that this was the best option under the circumstances – I would be looking for fill light rather than the flash to provide all the light. The colour of the woods would be cool in the winter, with weak sunlight, but I didn’t want skin tones to appear too blue. I used a CTO gel (1/4) on flash to warm the light up some. I used the flash on TTL metering as I would need to quickly adjust my distance from the subjects, but compensated the exposure down by a stop to ensure the subjects were not obviously illuminated by flash.

To create a consistency in the shots and a feeling of intimacy, I used a wide lens (35mm efl) and stood about a meter from the subjects – I talked them through this and why I was doing it and checked they were okay with the approach. I also explained that there would be a flash (but not too bright).

I also wanted to capture people’s names, contact information and a few words on what being in the woods meant to them. Also to share my contact information. I made this A5 flier, printed on a desk jet printer to standard photocopy paper.

Flyer printed as handout.

My intention was to write down information and pdf the form with my phone. On the day of the shoot it was numbingly cold so out of respect for my subjects, I decided to just talk briefly and hand the fliers over to them. It was a low cost solution that was very well received by everyone. Something that I will use for future shoots. On this occasion, I was not concerned about non-commercial model release since I was shooting in a public place.

I visited the woods three times in total and intend to continue the project beyond the completion of the OCA assignment.

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