Most of my creative time in 2018 was focused on filmmaking. After wrapping up a film that was emotionally exhausting, I wanted to get back into the studio and shoot some portraits.
Usually when I shoot, I have one or two people come out for a few hours and just shoot until we're all exhausted. I wanted to try something different this time and thought it might be fun to have a lot of people come out and sit in for a series of very brief portrait sessions. After the first session proved to be a lot of fun, I had another a week later.
I didn't have a scientific way of choosing who to invite. Most of it amounted to scrolling through Facebook and thinking, "huh, it might be fun to see so-and-so," or, "this person looks interesting." I invited about 20 people for the first session, and 13 showed up. For the next session, I encouraged some people to bring friends, and we had 19 people sit in for portraits. There's so many more people I'd like to photograph, but it was a great group of 32 people, some of whom I knew well but many whom I only kind of knew or didn't know at all.
The shooting process was nuts. I tried to focus on having a conversation with everyone I photographed, though many times I got so engrossed with the conversation that I neglected to shoot many frames. I tried to provide very minimal direction (try looking that way, think about something happy, think about some recent challenges, etc.).
I kept the lighting setups minimal. The first night I had two setups that I used for everyone, and I shot color and black and white. The second night I used the same setup for everyone, which was a white background, a frontal soft box and a 50mm lens that required me to be much closer to the subjects than I normally am with an 85mm lens.
I shot a mixture of digital and 35mm film, which I develop myself and then scan into the computer. My keeper rate for film was impressive, though most of my favorite photos below are digital.
I’ve always enjoyed photographing people, which has its own challenges being a closet (or maybe not that much of a closet) introvert. Portraits provide such a unique way to really see another person. I’ve evolved as a photographer in terms of how I approach a portrait session and how I process the images afterwards. I used to (even recently) over-retouch about every photo with a face. But I’m trying to do that much less.
Anyway, here's my favorite photos of each person, with some bonus selections at the end. I don't have plans to do this again soon, but if you're interested in sitting in sometime, please reach out. I'm always looking for new people to work with.
Very cool! You captured so many instrospective moments. Nice work.
Thanks for asking me to take part. It was a really cool experience... hanging out before hand and the shoot.
For an introvert, you have a lot of cool friends.
You captured their light! Well done!
Excellent portraits! You definitely have a knack for capturing people's personality.
Great time Dave. You are an awesome person!!!