Christian is the brother of Teresa, whom I've photographed in the past and has been a friend for many years. The Santoski family was very happy with the photographs of Teresa I created, so when time came for Christian to have his high school senior yearbook/portraits created, they came to me. Which is awesome.
I photographed Christian at Lake Potanipo, located in Brookline NH. It's a small park with access to the lake and Sara and I go there some years on the 4th of July to watch the fireworks as they explode over the lake. It's a gorgeous sight. Christian and his family live in Brookline, so it was a great place to meet up and spend the afternoon creating portraits of Christian.
Our first location/setup was near the parking lot facing the street. Both he and I had to get into the zone of shooting and needed to warm up. Magic doesn't happen instantly and creating portraits can be an organic process. I needed a little warm up time, and starting near the car gave me a chance to mentally get ready for the rest of the session.
I had Christian lean against a tree and I wanted to start by getting him relaxed.
Once I started to feel things were starting to ignite, I knew that we would need a few tighter cropped portraits that would be used for the physical yearbook. So I had Christian take a seat and I got in a little tighter and popped on the Petzval lens. We had lots of gorgeous changing leaves behind him, and I figured this was the perfect reason to go crazy with the Petzval swirl and get some colors dancing and swirling behind him.
Here is the same shot in black & white - I couldn't make up my mind once one I liked more, so this was a rare instance where I submitted both in the proof set.
Once we get some good tight portraits, we moved to another area that had a little scenic lighthouse next to the lake. I put on a longer lens to get more of the environment and the lighthouse.
I moved around Christian and got a few profile portraits of him. I Loved the color mixing with the sky in the background; lush colors of greens with dabs of blue and red - I really love shooting in the autumn season. I wish it was Sept-November all the time.
From there we packed up and started moving towards a boat launch into the lake, I stopped and loved that little patch of light, coming through a tree. You can see it to the left of him on this image. I wanted to catch that little patch of peeking light and I wanted it to highlight his shoulder, acting as a rim light.
Here it is again, pulling out a bit to get more of the environment.
Once I got those shots, we moved over to the boat ramp area. I had Christian sit down on an applebox I brought, and I tossed my fat butt down on the ground, lying on my stomach. I love laying down and shooting. Not because I'm lazy, but because it creates a really interesting composition and look.
I really love this next shot. The black & white, the framing; everything about it just works really well for me.
and here is a color version, where I had him turn and face the light that his mother was holding (she made a fantastic assistant!)
After I knew I was happy with what we got at the boat launch, we crossed the street from lake and headed into a little covered bridge that links-up with a nature trail. I'm really happy with these. I pressed myself against the side of the covered bridge so that the foreground elements would go out of focus and tried to reduce it to sections of light and pattern. I had Christian's mother hold the light, just out of frame to the right.
I love moody images. Lots and lots of my work is about creating a mood or a feeling. Something other than "look happily at the camera and give me a smile", although, I make sure to get those images. For me, having a subject look down, or off camera, creates something much more interesting. It might create tension, or drama or. . . something else.
Once I knew we had the bridge shots, I was starting to feel like the session was winding down. I knew we had killer images and I wanted one last little blast of creativity and I wanted to wing-it a little bit, so we exited out of the covered bridge and I put my Petzval lens back on so I could just play around a bit.
At first I got some full-length shots of Christian. I did some heavy post-production work on this following image because I wanted something that felt like an old image from the 1800's. I like that it is blurry and not real sharp. I love the crazy swirl going on in the background.
Then I had Christian sit down and I went in tighter with the Petzval.
Then I pushed in even tighter, and the swirls behind him became single out of focus blotches. This made the perfect black & white portrait, and once I saw that image, I knew we had everything we needed and we started to pack up and call it a day.
A big thank you to Christian's mom, Susan, for being my lighting assistant for the whole session and for grabbing a few behind-the-scenes shots of me working.
I love photographing people. I love when a client trusts the creative lobe in my brain and lets me photograph by instinct, rather than with a checklist that needs to be checked-off. I love how people photograph. I love making portraits and creating a mood.
And, boy, do I love photography.