As you may or may not know, the setting is as much a part of the photograph as the subject. You can have a beautiful woman or man sitting for a photograph, but if the background is a power plant, well, those photos aren’t going to impress anyone much.
Some of the best portraits you will ever see, more than likely, would be a great photo without the subject sitting, running, walking or doing some damn thing. It's all about the dream, your photograph. When taking portraits of my clients, it becomes even more critical to have that backdrop be something spectacular. So today I was looking around for something that might make some great lines for some wholesome portraits.
Every now and again, I go out looking for easily accessible spots in town that aren't too secluded. I used to try and take clients to the craziest places I could think of. Why? Because of the background! I would find the best environments I could. With my tastes, it meant that no one else would ever get that same photograph and probably hasn't yet either. The problem is, I may find that pleasing but the regular Joe doesn't or even worse, it scares them to death.
I once had a couple that needed engagement photos for their wedding. I love water being in all my shots, and I know of a place that's easy to get to and secluded enough that it would be a one of a kind. The path is level with the water. Leaving nothing but a clean horizon line full of a lake, BEAUTIFUL.
I took them out there, we navigated the little path made by the local deer population and got right up to the water's edge just as the sun started to hover above the glistening western horizon. It was going to be perfect. I was so excited that I didn't notice the bride-to-be getting more and more nervous. That is until she let out a little shriek.
I didn't see them, the fiance didn't see them but SHE SAW THEM, and that was it. We were off to take the engagement photos in my front yard. Lacking anywhere else to take them other than the local museum turn of the century barn and homestead house, I was out of luck and out of scenery.
After that day, I began hunting for that great backdrop that would allow the client to feel like they are getting something beautiful and I didn't feel cheap shooting it.
Yeah, I said it, I don't want to feel cheap. However, I get a few drinks in me, and I stop caring for about four hours, but I always hate myself in the morning. Cheap to me are the obligatory barn photos or the hay bale in a field. Put everyone in plaid and pile them against the hay, not my ideal photograph. YUCK! Ok, if you pay me enough and I'll do it, but I ain't gotta like it. Besides, old barns can be an excellent backup plan. Shoot them right, and you get to keep some self-respect.
That's where I went today, to make sure that the backup plan still existed. To my utter horror, my backup plan is completely destroyed. Well, not completely, but close. Sometimes I like to use the Shiloh Museum to shoot the "homespun" clients in front of. They love it because it feels like the world they wish they could return to. You know, the better days when family cared for each other and ate around the dinner table together. (Secret, those weren't the better days. You worked 12 hour days in the field and momma had to do the laundry outside by hand). It used to be a safe bet and friendly enough place for the majority of the folks but now the only thing left is the barn, and it looks like it's going to fall down. Now what do I do?!