Today’s post is written by guest blogger Beatrice Benedick.
Paul took many wonderful shots at the Oregon Renaissance Fair, as you may have seen on this blog this past week. Many of them exemplified his talent for using 55mm focal length to make colors vibrant and pop off the photo as if taken on Kodachrome. Those images are rich and immersive.
But my favorite image of the set doesn’t have that trademark color. The light is actually a bit hard, making the blues more elemental and muted. But if the blues of the photo had been very strong, they would have dominated the photo in great contrast with the almost severe look on his face. (And that face has so much subtext and complexity.) Unlike a fairy princess or the queen, neither his character nor his outfit is made to garner attention, and the color of the photo truthfully reflects that.
I think the framing is also critical here. Too close and the picture becomes too on-the-nose, like a dour portrait with overwrought emotion. Too far and the surrounding fair (and its patrons) could take the focus away from him, or, worse, make his emotion seem melodramatic or silly. Instead, just enough of him is exposed to honestly reveal a working man on the job.
There are times when you’re on location somewhere and your only plan is to see what looks good, what light is available, and then use your photography knowledge to frame a shot you’ll love. It’s not random snap shooting because thought goes into each photo, but being somewhere at the right time certainly helps.
One thing I often look for is a unique person, doing ordinary things in their own way. I keep my eye open for a setting that is not busy but offers an interesting contrast to the subject or person. If I see it, I go for it.
That said, this being candid photography I cannot direct the person to stand or look a certain way. What a person is doing the second I look into the viewfinder could be very different the next moment. It’s sometimes a challenge, but certainly an enjoyable one.
There is so much I love about this photo… his beard, how he crossed his legs, and his clothes. I love his pickle signage. The background colors are unusual for someone engaged in this activity. The look on his face could make you wonder what he was thinking in that moment. Did he get any business that day? Or was he just hot and tired from being outside all day long? We don’t know and that is what makes shots like this fun.