While I’m reading Christa Meola’s new book The Art of Boudoir Photography, I’m looking for tips and techniques I can put to use in more mundane contexts. Having read about her favourite lens choices yesterday I thought I might try shooting at 50mm all day today, as a focal length that is very similar to human eyesight. Shame I left home without that lens today.
She also writes about how she uses music during a shoot to give “non-models” something to move and emote to, and in the book she gives a link to a playlist that she often uses. I decided to build on this and create my own, and though I’m not sure when I’ll use it, if nothing else it gives some variety in what I listen to on long car journeys.
This morning I was planning just a short journey to Newcastle, and whilst there was a dusting of snow on my car roof, I wasn’t expecting much more when I set off. Within only a mile or two the weather was making its intent clear.
I turned up the heater and the music followed suit. Initially I quite liked my music choices, but Talk Talk didn’t seem to fit. Why had I put that in there? Best delete it later I thought.
All in all less than propitious start to the day.
I was going into town to meet a woman who I met recently through an online dating agency, a relationship I knew that lacked romantic potential but was friendly enough. “Why are you bothering to meet up then?” I was asked.
I was on time for the rendezvous, she was late (delayed by the weather). I could have given up, gone home and written the day off as a failure.
I didn’t though. S arrived without much delay and we had a pleasant time together before going our separate ways much as I would with any other friend. Returning to my car I thought about where I might find some pictures, and how I might best use the lens I had with me. As I did so I passed another cafe, and a much nicer one it seemed (The Garden Kitchen). I spotted one of the staff at work who was continually smiling. Someone clearly happy with their life at this point in time, and an obvious candidate for a picture, a picture that I really like. She was a little embarrassed but flattered that I thought her smile worth capturing. You can judge whether I was right; the shot wasn’t posed, this was how I spotted her.
During our conversation, S had mentioned that she couldn’t get on the car park roof as it was closed due to the volume of snow. I wondered if I was too late as the initial signs suggested that it was already melting.
My effort in climbing the extra flights of stairs was repaid by the white rooftops of the city. Another image worth capturing, but I still didn’t feel I had enough so as I was leaving town, I took a detour, parked at a roadside where the lines indicating that I shouldn’t be there were well carpeted in snow, and found a little alleyway to shelter in as I waited.
I wanted a shot of someone in a hood.
Hoods create nice shadows around the face and played a big part in two of my favourite pictures from last year. Shouldn’t be difficult in this snow I thought, and I was right there were quite a few about… on the opposite side of the road and out range for me without risking a fall as I ran to intercept them.
Instead as another couple ran hoodless across in my direction I watched as the man temporarily lost his balance and reflexively I took the shot. Not quite dramatic enough to be worth keeping I thought, but then he approached me, asked to see the picture and gave me his card, requesting I email it to him. Normally the way these things work is that I give other people my card when I’ve taken their portrait to reassure them about my blog!
Lots of umbrellas, beany hats and wet heads came and went, but no hoods, until I spotted a flash of pink from a small suitcase being carried by a figure in a parka who was crossing towards me. A parka with a fur-trimmed hood. I couldn’t see any face, for she had her head down against the weather, but I knew this was going to be my chance. I stopped her to ask for a portrait, explained that she met my exacting standards perfectly (well she had a hood on!) and she agreed, although noted that she’d never been asked for a picture in the street before. I can’t imagine why, for as she flashed a smile and tilted her eyes to the light she made a great job of this one. And yes, I remembered to ask her name. Thanks Anita!
Baby, life’s what you make it
Can’t escape it
Baby, yesterday’s favourite
Don’t you hate it
Everything’s all right
Life’s what you make it
Everything’s all right