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He's My Brother: 3-Day Soup to Nuts Photoshoot
A good friend of mine realized that soon her oldest son would graduate from high school and would be out of the house on his way to college. She also realized it was a 'last chance' to get some photos of her two sons together, while living at home.
So she asked me if it was possible to make portraits of the two of them together...she wanted to have a set hanging on her wall for the graduation party. That would give me three days to shoot, sort, present, get confirmations on what she likes, process and print the photos...after my day job. But I felt up for the task and was really excited to have the opportunity to make some nice portraits that she would enjoy.
She wanted some solo photos and one or two with them together. Should be workable, not a problem. Breathe, and do.
With the fantastic assistance of my photo-savvy husband, we got a makeshift studio set up in the living room. My friend wanted a plain, clean backdrop for the portraits. So, I decided that Avedon lighting was my goal.
Wednesday, the photo shoot evening, arrived and the kids (um...I mean, young men) showed up at my doorstep.
Now, my thought was that the shots of the guys together would be the most difficult to get good poses and expressions from. I mean, they're teenaged brothers! They want to get away from each other, not be all huggy and smiley, right? So I decide to tackle these first because they would take the most energy.
I'm not crazy about point-by-point posing...I want them to look as natural as possible. So I gave them a couple of general guidelines: stand up, sit down, act natural, 'what are you doing this summer?'...let's see what happens, all the while thinking that there was no way I'd get good shots of two teenaged brothers.
To my delightful surprise, the guys were not only not repellent of each other, but had some fun and showed a real connection. I was relieved, for one. But also completely energized by their cooperation and their ability to get into the mood of creating a close, intimate photo together.
I went on to do the individual shots, worked through the shoot; pored over the set to get a subset together for my friend to pick from late that night. I did some quick conversions, loaded them up to an online gallery, sent her the notice to pick what she liked, and waiting for her reply.
Once my friend looked through and picked her favorites, I did the fine tuning and print preparation, and by Saturday I was headed to our local printer, Dan Wise, to print the final products. Then straight to my friend's house to deliver the portrait prints. The party was Sunday.
Together we put one of the 8 x 10 photos into a matted frame, the jury was in. She was happy...so I was happy. My friend's mother and sister, here for the graduation, were happy. Her mother asked if she could have a copy of 'that one'...I asked her what size she wanted...'that size'.
I'm not a commercial portrait photographer, but I do make portraits and learn and grow each and every time I do a project like this. I try to take what I've learned from my many photography mentors and put them into action and produce something that my client, in this case my friend, truly enjoys.
Funny thing is, all this work seems like play to me. And I'm rewarded by the joy that the photos bring, to both the person receiving them and to myself. I this case, it was my good friend, and a couple of brothers that I've known since they were knee high to a grasshopper.
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