My good friend, Dana, caught wind of my Photography work early on and asked if I'd be interested in taking some photographs of her. We were both pretty excited about the whole thing, but then before we shot, Dana changed the tone of everything. She got serious and real about it:
"I want it to be the best work you've ever done."
I only had one idea in mind that would guarantee that her set would at least look different than any other work I had created up until that point. But “the best?” That was for others to decide. The idea I had was to finally turn off the Active D-Lighting setting on my camera. Working with a D90 at this point, I had just learned about Active D-Lighting: a Nikon DSLR enhancement that is designed to bring more clarity and contrast to your images. It's good for some sessions and events because, in short, it makes your images brighter. But I eventually realized that without Active D-Lighting, images look richer and more realistic. I just hadn’t had the guts to turn it off for a portrait session. I was afraid of getting dark images. After Dana issued her challenge or motivation, I finally decided to turn off Active D-Lighting. I was very pleased with the results.
Dana and I headed to Cove Island Park (Stamford, CT). She was shy in front of the camera, surprisingly. In so many words, she said it was hard for her to look directly into the camera comfortably. The catch phrase that she kept repeating during the set is that she wanted to "give me her eyes." As the day progressed, she became more and more comfortable with looking directly into the lens and I'm glad she over came that fear. She was a natural by the end.
This is one of my favorite portrait sessions because it was so personal and comfortable. Dana and I had been friends for years and we found ourselves catching up and talking about life; the ups and the downs, and it felt natural and comfortable capturing her essence in the moment, even if she was frowning or had a saddened face. It was real. The process felt very therapeutic for both of us.
I loved the dress she was wearing and I loved her blue shall as well. They were very important elements/characters in this shoot. They flowed, they told a story. Dana and I are both children of faith and I feel that a certain senerity and peace started to emerge in some moments and the images could only be described as Godly. I don’t say that to brag or compliment myself, but to describe how the energy felt between us and the place; there were a lot of transcendent feelings. I can still remember her scaling a small hill in the park, the sun directly behind her, setting up a great silhouette. She turned in my direction and yelled from atop of the hill, “What should I do?”
My first, instinctive response, “Kneel! Like you’re praying!” So genuine and true to the moment and Dana’s character.