Thursday, May 13, 2010

Putting your subject in their environment

I like to add visual story telling details when taking environmental personality portraits.  By including tools of the trade in the foreground and background says a lot about a person and what they might do for a living.  The reporter wanted to go to the city hall and produce a personality story on the new major.  Since I already did some prior research, I found out the mayor was a pilot and suggested that a good time for the assignment, would not during the week for a boring at the office photo, but go photograph him during an upcoming weekend fly-in at a nearby rural airport.

 You can imagine the reporter’s delight, when the editor agreed that the shooting the mayor on the tarmac with lined up new and vintage aircraft wing tip to wing tip would be an interesting twist to the story. So happened the mayor also pilots a 1941 Stearman Biplane.  Reporters, some reporters think their job is an 8-5 job, five days a week. Unfortunately for photographers, it's 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

 While the reporter interviewed the mayor, I took various pictures, ranging from a medium telephoto to a wide angle of him walking around the plane. Now, if any of you know what it’s like working with a reporter, it’s rather a pain in the butt, trying to keep them from getting into every photograph.  But, to the reporter, most of which are visual impaired, to them the written word is all they care about and the photos are something to go along with their story.

 Afterwards, the reporter, said, “Well I got want I needed, you ready to go?” No, I was just getting started taking pictures and mentioned. “You know, it’s not the headline or first sentence to your story that grabs the readers attention, it’s the photograph.”

 The mayor mentioned that he was due to give a public performance in about half an hour and asked if I wanted to take some pictures of him as he flew touch and go landings above the airfield in the background, would most certainly give me the environmental details needed that would show our readership something about the mayor’s life.  When you go out and pictures of people doing interesting things, it’s a plus for the readership we serve.

 I like to get my subjects involved in making the picture better.  Try to get them involved in such a way that they are assisting you instead of you forcing a set up on the subject.

 My style is to surround the subject in their environment with things that might make them different from other people.  To me, the mayor’s vintage aircraft was a symbol that made him something special and then having him also fly it, put him in a setting that provided a greater identification for the readers.