There comes a time in every wannabe-photographer’s life when he has to rest his camera and ask himself, ‘what the fuck do I shoot now?!’
I went through one such existential crisis last weekend. Which is when my good friend Pradeep called. ‘So, what are you doing over the weekend?’, he asked.
‘Uhh, nothing much.’
‘So are you up for a shoot?’
‘Sure,’ I said. I am always happy when I am offered the opportunity to outsource certain parts of the photography process, like say, zeroing in on a subject, and emotionally blackmailing them into posing for me. I’d some very pleasant photo-sessions with Pradeep, and the opportunity was too well-timed to be ignored.
Which is until he turned up over the weekend, and revealed what he exactly had in mind. He wanted to shoot me. Gulp.
‘Ideally, I would do a ROFL right now, but the maid hasn’t swept the floor yet,’ said the Missus, as she passed by the living room. ‘Try not to break too many things.’
For the next couple of hours, I sat in front of all the lighting equipment, following instructions like ‘look to the left, now look at me, don’t slouch, intense expression, how about a smile…’ Surprisingly, these words sound simple enough when you’re behind the camera. But when you feel like scratching your balls and throwing up at the same time, and the photographer tells you to ‘hold that intense expression’, you know you’re having a bad day.
Mid way through the shoot, I realized that I needed some leverage to convince Pradeep not to make these images public. So, I suggested that he too pose for me. He agreed. Alas, he turned out to be a natural.
The above image is one from the shoot. Pradeep seemed to be following my instructions, but now that I think about it, he was probably just recalling my intense expression. He has a mean streak.
The lighting setup is one of my favorites. A beauty dish was used as the main light – this is basically a fancy way of saying that a flash was thrust into a steel bowl so that the entire inner side of the bowl acted as a light source. This makes the the light larger than a bare flash, resulting in soft, even light, since it falls on the subject from more directions. This, however, is not as soft as when you use a softbox (which is even larger, and hence softer). The result is a gritty lighting effect. The lights reflected off the subject’s eyes (called catch-lights) also come out as big circular disks – this adds a bit of punch to the image. A couple of portable flashes were placed on either side of the subject, lighting up the contours of the face. These lights were a little brighter than the main light, which is why you see the white patches on the forehead and cheeks.
In terms of post-processing, I followed the same method as detailed here.
In retrospect, the shoot was enjoyable, except for the times when the missus decided to peep in and say things like, ‘are you sure you don’t want a Digene?. So, we have decided to do this more often, but preferably with a third person as a subject. I only have so many intense expressions.