Working with one (willing!) subject in a simple ‘studio’ set-up, give yourself five minutes ‘in-control’, take your portraits from any angle, lit in any way, without interference. After five minutes, reverse ‘control’ and allow the subject to dictate exactly how they wish their portrait to be taken – and what to delete. Compare the two resulting sets of images in a dialogue with your subject, be candid about what you were looking for and what they wanted from their half of the shoot.
This exercise ended up somewhat out of order – my younger son agreed to be photograph and then proved to be allusive. By the time the shoot came around I’d started experimenting with gels on portable strobes, so took the opportunity to work with those.
My choice is immediately below – I wanted a blue look, both with background and the ring reflector on-camera. We both agreed that the look doesn’t give a health sparkle but my son liked the mood set by the background strobe reflecting from the wall.
Below are my son’s choice. We spent some time trying to get the colour scheme he wanted – ‘neon orange’ and orange tint to his face. The wall to the rear is a light blue colour, so it was difficult to get a strong orange to reflect from it – next time we may put some white foam core boards up!
What is interesting from this exercise is the effect the colour tones have on the reading of the images. It has encouraged me to work in a more deliberate way with colour – nothing says that it has to be as it actually was for this kind of work. The photograph is ‘a new and separate reality’.