The Makings of a Portrait

I am part of a portrait collective this year in which we all submit one portrait per month to a collaborative post.   Most of my portraits are a bit unconventional so I wanted to make this one very simple.  So simple that I didn't even brush my kid's hair or put different clothing on her.  I told her to stand by the wall and look at me, and then I free lensed.  It was kind of a fascinating endeavour.

First, she looked down, distracted by where to stand on the dog's bed (related: I have very little blank wall space in my house).

I managed to get some eye contact.  However, combined with the messy hair hanging over her face and the tilt of her head, the feral-child-look was perhaps a little TOO obvious.

I think I patted it down slightly?  The beauty of freelensing, too, though, is that you can change the plane of focus juuuuust slightly and things look different.  This was the photo I ended up using for the collaborative, despite finding the lighting a tad too harsh (coming in from the right through a window on our side door).

Look up at the window!  Obscure your face with hair!  

I tucked her hair behind her ear but that made her face a little too open and clear for the mood I was trying to obtain.  (Not to say it's not a good portrait - I love it - but it wasn't what I was going for.)

Finally, I got the light on her face exactly how it should be, and her eyes in focus; the only reason this was not the finalist for my post was that her face was a bit more neutral and I wanted it to be wilder.

Isn't it fascinating how six portraits taken in the course of about 45 seconds can all look so different?  This is one of the things I love most about photography - the split-second change in expression, head tilt, light, mood that ends up with a photo that reads altogether different from the one taken two seconds previous.

Check out the collaborative blog post here: