Classic Portraits – Darren Smith Photographer

Classic Portraits – Darren Smith Photographer. A big part of my style is simplicity. Whether it be lack of imagination or creativity I find myself being drawn to create simple, honest portraits. When I say honest, I mean true to the character of the subject you are photographing.

When I first met Kev (and lovely gentleman I might add) he expressed his concern at having his portrait taken, in that as with a lot of people he did not really feel that comfortable in front of the camera.

I can understand completely where he was coming from as I too suffer similar feelings. He indicated that as long as he did not have to look at the camera he should be fine. Now I quite often shoot portraits without direct eye contact and they can be just as powerful as a portrait with direct eye contact, so that did not present a problem for me.

His wife was accompanying him to the studio for their 50th wedding anniversary session, so to break the ice I started with both in front of the camera, and continued to chat with them both while taking a few images. After a while I could see some of the barriers coming down, that he was starting to trust what I was doing and he was feeling a little more comfortable in the studio and keeping things simple from a lighting perspective probably helped ease his concerns. If people who are not used to being in the “spotlight” are suddenly thrust into a myriad of studio strobes they can quite easily withdraw and shutdown their true character.

It was time to move onto shooting Kev’s portrait. As you can see from the lighting diagram it is a pretty straightforward cross lit setup with the addition of the Styrofoam flat to soften the shadows from the key light. I like to use this technique as it generally offers me more processing latitude in post-production to really create the mood I am shooting for. I was using my 85mm prime as it works well for portraits, it doesn’t exaggerate any facial features or body parts and at f9 offers good depth of field to maintain details in the right areas.

I don’t often ask my clients to smile, and in this case it was no different, I was just conversing with Kev and waiting for the moment of truth. Kev is a keen handyman so featuring his time-worn hands was a key element to the image, as was presenting Kev as a true gentleman that he is. It’s all these little elements that make up the story, and getting to know your client or subject can make telling their story that much easier, getting it right in pre-production is a far greater use of your time than trying to fix it in post. Overall I feel this image is a timeless classic portrait that his family can look at and admire and be reminded of the qualities of their father, grandfather, husband, uncle or brother.

The image received Kev’s seal of approval, stating it was quite possibly the finest image he has ever seen of himself…now that is the response we should all aspire to with every client.

Classic Portraits - Darren Smith Photographer

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All images are the copyright of Darren Smith and produced with his kind permission.