Most of my favorite photographers are black and white portrait guys- Sebastio Salgado, Ralph Eugene Meatyard and Richard Avedon being the first 3 that leap to mind. I definitely gravitate towards b+w portraits in the fall and winter months. Where I grew up in Nebraska, you’d have weeks of gray skies that sucked all hope out of the universe; in the Phoenix metro where I live, you merely have cold that seems at odds with how bright and clear the sky is. I still feel gray in these seasons.
The image above was shot early October 2014 with my frequent collaborator Sierra McKenzie in Seattle. It was all natural light, a 35mm Fujinon lens (50mm equivalent on a DSLR) on the Fuji X-E1 before I upgraded to the X-T1.
This image was done with my Nikon D700 in February 2013 with model Briana Rambo. It has similar qualities as the Sierra image.
There’s a lot I like about this image and the one below (and believe me, I don’t like everything I shoot or bring to completion) and it’s worth breaking it down.
Simplicity- it’s one subject and no clutter to the background, just patterns within the foliage/ wall to support the subject.
Tonality- there are a wide range of tones with each element- hair, skin, eyes, leaves, jacket- defined separately
Emotion- the model isn’t blank or fake.
Makeup/ hair- all done by Sierra in her photo, which is superb, but it also helps keep a shoot feeling low-key. I’ve done shoots recently where someone on set expected instant publication or other great things, and it doesn’t work like that, so the smaller I can keep a crew the better. The Briana shoot utilized a wig but makeup was done by Briana.
Timelessness- I think it’s hard to place when and where these were taken. One could say bangs like these are reminiscent of the 1950s and 60s, but I’ve met so many modern people with that hairstyle it seems like it could be any time.
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