ENVIRONMENTAL PORTRAITS 2016

Portraiture has been something I have loved from the very beginning. There is something about capturing the subtle nuances that are brought forth during a photoshoot. I recently began focusing on a project photographing people in the places that describe them best; whether that be in their home or at the place they work. Through the use of lighting and composition, I tried to enhance not only the subject within the photograph but also the environment they are in as well. So without further ado, here are several of my favorite images so far and how I captured each image.

 

MADDIE ROGERS

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Maddie is a wonderful photographer and friend who I had the pleasure of meeting in one of my photography courses at Columbia College Chicago. 

To get this photograph I scouted her room to find the best space that truly showed who she is. I loved the idea of having her room in the background while still showing parts of her living room filled with personal photographs and little trinkets. I lit this with two strobes, the key being to the left of the subject with a 47in umbrella softbox with CTO and a second light placed in her bedroom with CTO. I wanted to keep the lighting as a natural as possible while making it feeling warm and homey.

Take a look at her beautiful work at www.maddierogersphotography.com 

 

KEN DUNN

Ken Dunn is an urban sustainability legend. He is the founder of The Resource Center, which runs City Farm in Chicago. City Farm is an urban farm that takes the food waste from local restaurants, uses it as compost, and then grows organic vegetables. Once grown, City Farm sells the vegetables back to those same restaurants.

While working for Columbia College's FRANK Magazine, I was able to meet Ken and photograph him at City Farm. This photograph was lit with a single speedlight with a bare 47in umbrella, keeping the light soft but making it pop a little more than if I had put diffusion on it.

 

KATIE TURNER

Katie is a great friend of mine and was my roommate last year. As an environmentalist myself, she is incredibly inspiring with her love for the planet and how she volunteers her time. 

This portrait was taken at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, which is one of Katie's favorite places. Initially, I wanted to do something outdoors with Lake Michigan behind her. Though, with the Chicago wind and no assistant, it was impossible to get my light to stay up and not get blown away. We made the rash decision to see if we could photograph inside the aquarium. Thankfully, we were allowed but needed to avoid the areas where the animals could see the flash. The lobby of the Shedd is beautiful so I had no problem photographing with that as the background. This was lit with a single speed light to the right of the subject and by keeping my shutter speed low, I let the ambient light shine through a bit more (pun-intended!).

Take a look at here blog: www.styletongue.com

 

ANDREA CALVETTI

Andrea is an Italian man who is captivated by American culture. I have known of Andrea for a couple years now and only recently finally met him and I have always wanted to photograph him. His mind and creativity are honorable and he creates such beautiful images and films. 

To get this photograph I had Andrea sit in the back of his beloved Buick Electra. I had my speed light outside the left window and kept it at a lower power to let the ambient light come through. I wanted to show as much of the red seats as I could so this was at a wide, 24mm focal length.

 

BRYCE DROBNY

Bryce is an incredible cinematographer and just so happens to be my boyfriend. His work has inspired me from the moment I met him and I honestly would not be where I am today if it weren't for him.

I photographed this just after Bryce wrapped on his short film, Paranoia. With the help of his production designer, we created a dynamic set with the Panavision and it's cases. Initially, I had started lighting this with one of my strobes but I wanted to bring in more of the background light but the light from my strobe was too powerful, so I switched to a speed light. I attached my soft box umbrella and thew on some CTO on the light and white balanced for tungsten lighting so the background would become more blue/green.

Take a look at his work at www.brycedrobny.com

 

IVAN BRUNETTI

Ivan is an illustrator and cartoonist for The New Yorker and a few other publications. 

Ivan was kind enough to let me into his home and up to his small, quaint attic studio to grab a couple shots of him at his drafting table. To set the scene he brought out a cartoon sketch he had been working on. With this image, I wanted to mimic window light so to the left of the subject there is a speed light with a 47in softbox umbrella lighting him.

 

HAROLD BAILEY

I officially met Harold on Bryce's film set for Paranoia, as he was the gaffer. Harold is always such a happy and positive human and I admire that about him.

This photograph was taken on the final day of Paranoia as we were loading up the grip truck. I was having lighting issues so this was the only frame I grabbed with the light actually working. Harold was laughing at me trying as I was to get the darn light to work which resulted in an image I think I truly shows Harold as he is.

 

BRADY DROBNY

Brady is Bryce's younger brother. I met him even before I met Bryce and we were good friends for a little while. He is an absolute sweetheart.

This image was a complete and total accident but I fell in love with it from the moment I saw it show up on the back of my camera. This photograph was taken bright and early in the morning after a night of camping. I think it really encapsulates who Brady is. To light this there is a speed light camera right with a 47in softbox umbrella to soften up the light hitting him.

 

There you have it! If you have any questions or comments about any of these photographs, don't hesitate to ask.

-E

THE JOURNEY

I have been a photographer for about seven or eight years now; professionally, just over five years. I honestly don't know when and how my passion for photography formed. After my family and I moved from England to Colorado, my father decided to buy a whole lot of camera gear. All that I can remember is always wanting to take photographs and videos with this camera everywhere I went. From there it evolved into a love for portrait photography and photojournalism. In high school, I was on the yearbook staff and in many of the art clubs. Junior year I had started my own small photography business by photographing families, senior portraits, and weddings. By my senior year, I had skipped over three photography course levels and was submitted to the college level AP-2D Studio Art course that was offered. I was head photography editor of Castle View High School's award-winning yearbook as well as the President of our photography club. Looking back at that now, that's all pretty bad-ass and I had an incredible photography teacher who taught me everything I knew and supported me the entire four years. Photography had taken over my life and I was perfectly okay with it.

Once I got to college, the immense amount of confidence that was built up throughout high school had completely dissipated. That is a hard thing to lose so quickly. Now, I was studying photography at the University of Colorado Denver and was taking a couple intro photography courses but I had stopped freelancing and ultimately stopped shooting things I cared about. I started to compare the mediocre work I was creating to other photographers that were clearly ahead of me. I genuinely resented myself, I was very unhappy with where my photography career was headed and I really wanted to give up and search for something else. I was overwhelmed and confused. As I am writing this, I am starting to realize that this is actually something very few people knew about. Because I was painted as "one of the best photographers people knew,” this made me subconsciously big-headed. I felt as if I needed to exceed expectations, and because I knew that wasn't happening and I wasn't getting any better, my confidence was shattered. I knew I needed to do something about this, but it took a while for me to actually put my mind to it.

About a year and a half passed and I made the decision to drop everything and move to Chicago, attend the school Columbia College Chicago, and just completely start over. I needed the new environment, I needed different people and artists in my life and I needed another chance. With the advice from my good friend and fellow photographer, Sean Hagwell, I rid most of the work and ended up with only four of my best images in my portfolio. I told myself that I was only going to do work that I wanted to create and start re-branding myself as the photographer I wanted to be. This was an incredibly hard thing for me to do with still having zero confidence in myself and disliking almost every photo I took. 

Lack of confidence has been a huge factor in my work and business for the past three years, and it has taken its toll. But, during this past month, I overcame, and I am finally at a place where I am confident in myself and the work I do. Confident enough to share my thoughts, share what I know, and share what I learn. I have always loved inspiring people and supporting people and it's something I hope to always do. I have realized that I am good at what I do and that I need to just take that and continue to learn and grow and become the best I can be. I am no longer shy when shooting, I always have an idea of what I want and I am not afraid to share that idea. I have embraced my passion.

So where am I going from here? As of now, I am at a point where I am deciding what I truly want to focus on with photography. I do so many different photography styles but have found a reawakened love for portraiture. I have also found a new love editing and retouching as well as fashion and commercial photography. I work a lot and I absolutely love it. I am excited to see where this photography journey will take me. I am hoping that through my photography and this blog I inspire other photographers of all levels. I want this to become an outlet for me to share what I do and how I do it, as well as sharing anything else photography related going on in my life. I hope these posts can spark conversation and inspire.

-E