Whatever It Takes

I love to create portraits that look effortless, as though a person were caught in a moment of natural beauty. But the behind-the-scene truth is that much effort is expended to look effortless! Take this portrait of Jamie: she looks carefree, the light on her is flattering, the setting is vibrant. The portrait speaks of life as we know it can be. But now, look below at the image that photographers call the “pull back image”, that shows all that went into to making that image come alive. Look at all that equipment! In the lower left corner is the camera. Way back in the far right is a rectangular scrim. It’s diffusing the sunlight on her hair so it will be soft. Closer to the camera than the scrim is a reflector tilted up at an angle to bounce light to brighten her eyes. Over Jamie’s head is a black gobo that is blocking light from above. Just in front of that gobo is a portable strobe with a soft box to warm her skin tones. Whew! What a lot of stuff ! Why go to all this trouble? For the sake of gorgeous images? Yes. But even more for the sake of the people in the images. Just before these portraits were created, Jamie’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. To put it mildly, life was stressful for Jamie and her family. But these portraits were a relief, a chance for them to enjoy something lovely in the midst of a challenging time. That is why I put so much effort into effortless portraits–so families can celebrate life. (Since these portraits, Jamie’s mother completed all her treatments and has recovered!)

Tom Launius, CPP