I got a surprise call this week from my dear friend Gary Fong, founder of #GenesisPhoto Agency in San Francisco.
It was noon on Thursday. Could I drive across the state and take a portrait at 3 pm? I didn’t have class, so I hit the road.
It was a great afternoon. I drove to Travelers Rest, South Carolina, to photograph the director of a homeschool co-op for World magazine. Suzanne Brown is the mother of seven, she homeschool them all, and in her spare time she founded a co-op for other homeschool families in her area.
I didn’t have time to find an assistant (all my students were in class, can you believe it?) so I took minimal gear, intending to keep things simple.
Ms. Brown was friendly and the yard was busy with kids, goats and friends picking grapes from her vineyard.
I picked out a spot in her “school room,” chose my background, and started working forward. Where could she sit or stand? What should the light look like on her and the background? A couple nice windows brightened up the place, a nice contrast to the dark wood paneling. I let the windows go white, and used two hot shoe strobes to light the subject.
Jacob Brown, age 9, was kind enough to be the stand-in while I set up the shot. When it was ready, I called Ms. Brown in. I take plenty of images–it’s better to have too many than too few. I used a couple lenses to give a couple different looks. Then I brought in the two youngest sons. Again, a couple poses and a couple different looks. Along the way I added a smaller strobe from the side to hit Ms. Brown’s shoulder and separate her from the background.
In a few minutes, I had 120+ images. Each one was a little different. When I edited the next morning I had plenty to choose from, but not too much. As directed, I chose 15 images, wrote extended captions and made sure the specs were the right size. Like I said, it was a good day.
Here are a couple outtakes from the assignment.
Look for the best images in an upcoming issue of World magazine.