Like it or not but the bulk of "news" photography is portraits for the simple reason that most stories don’t get the time and funding to send a guy like me out to wander about to find/make a dynamic story telling image to illustrate said story. So doing portraiture is a big part of my work even though I consider myself a documentarian.
The other day was a busy one where I had 3 assignments for the local business journal. Each was a typical "We need a shot of Mr. Executive for our profile of his expanding company" thing. No time for anything complex – just make the best of a bad situation.
First up: portrait of the Kevin and Christine Lamar owners of Lamar Fitness. Kevin is an ex pro football player and had just gotten his knee worked on and was in a big leg brace and on crutches. As I’m just putting up my first light stand I was told that I had, no joke, 3 minutes to shoot him before he walked out the door to a meeting. I was told that I would have ten but hey, that’s life. All their product is in the where house but they had a room with some of their exercise machines. One softbox, a grid spot, a blue gel on a white wall and 8, yes e-i-g-h-t frames later we get something usable and off they go to their meeting. Total time from start of set-up to walking out the door my own self: 15 minutes.
This is not high art but it works just fine. My wife says I often "have to turn goose poop into paté".
Next up, I have to shoot two guys behind the company that does the Ligit search widget. Great guys but they have no tangible product and work in a tiny cube farm. That’s ok because they are the kind of business subjects you hope for: ones who think of ideas to do for the photo and are silly enough to have fun with it. So one softbox, two grid spots – one red and one blue gelled and voila! A not at all uptight business portrait:
Then it’s off to the local goat dairy where they are expanding from 5 acres and 90 goats to 50 acres and 800 goats to keep up with demand for their goat milk and cheese. The tough one was to not have the girls nibble on my pants, shirt, shoes, camera or start licking my lens.
All in all, a pretty good day. I love how I’m never certain of how any of my photos are going to look. Even when I set up lights and all that the moments that happen make it more than "say cheese!".