Capturing the times of our lives

Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 200, ƒ/5.6, 1/80–Alienbees B1600, triggered with Pocketwizard TT1 and TT5 system [logo from Wikimedia Commons and modified]

This weekend was my daughter’s high school homecoming. This is her senior year where everything is the last time for her class. They commented on how freshman year they all stood around and were afraid to dance at the party. Now as seniors they didn’t care what others thought like they did as freshman.

If you follow my blog then you know my daughter is involved in theater and her group of friends are mostly other theatre geeks. They are not an exclusive group and therefore why I said this was most of her friends, but the theatre kids love most people and are excited to have more people hang out doing life together.

Great Self Esteem = Great Photos

When photographer’s subjects are confident and can just relax and be themselves you spend more time just capturing those moments versus spending so much of your time trying to pull those moments out of a person.

Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 200, ƒ/5.6, 1/80–Alienbees B1600, triggered with Pocketwizard TT1 and TT5 system

The key role of the photographer to make this happen is to create an atmosphere where the subjects feel like they are in control.

One way I try to convey this is asking many times throughout the photo shoot is there anything else they would like. I suggest combinations of people and try to keep the excitement going, but the whole time I am really trying to say I am here for you.

Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 200, ƒ/5.6, 1/125–Alienbees B1600, triggered with Pocketwizard TT1 and TT5 system

I arrived early and started by picking a location. I setup my lights and my wife helped by standing in as subject so I could get the light set just right on her face and balance it with the background and other light on her face.

For the better part of 15 minutes I was trouble shooting. I had one lens that was not working with my flashes. I finally found the combination of working with my Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8 on the Nikon D5 that would work for me. This required me moving back and forth to get the closeup shots and then walking a good fifteen feet back to get the group shots.

Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 200, ƒ/5.6, 1/80–Alienbees B1600, triggered with Pocketwizard TT1 and TT5 system

By the way I spent a good hour later working with both my cameras and all my lenses to test them with the flashes.

I believe I have a lens that was just repaired that is the problem. I now know for sure what the problem is that I was having such a problem with when I was setting up for these photos.

Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 200, ƒ/5.6, 1/125–Alienbees B1600, triggered with Pocketwizard TT1 and TT5 system

Once I had the lights in place I didn’t change them at all. I just moved closer and further back and occasionally would twist the models a little to the left or right to get a different look. The closeup of my daughter I just twisted her until the strobe off to the back was directly behind her.

Here is the setup for you.

I was so thankful to be photographing my daughter and her theatre friends. They exuded so much more confidence than they did just four years ago.

Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 200, ƒ/5.6, 1/125–Alienbees B1600, triggered with Pocketwizard TT1 and TT5 system

What I think is so exciting about taking these photos this weekend is I feel like I captured the traits in these kids who are now young adults just before next year they all either enter the work force or go off to college living their own lives.

I am so proud of who my daughter has become and the friends that she has made in her time in school.

Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 200, ƒ/5.6, 1/80–Alienbees B1600, triggered with Pocketwizard TT1 and TT5 system

In the TV show Friends we watched these six people do life together over 10 years. They dated each other and had to break up with each other. The reason so many of us returned to watch the show was we loved it when no matter what happened they worked really hard to keep their friendships in tact.

What I love about photography over text is the power for it to capture emotions. To capture emotions you need to be prepared. The camera must be set properly. You must have considered the lighting for the photograph. You have been thinking about and taken into account the background. Will you make it razor sharp or blurry and out of focus.

But even more important that knowing your gear is to know your subject. You cannot capture that which you have no knowledge of or understanding.

For me to do great photography that is compelling requires the photographer to be involved in their subjects lives long enough that they let you in to see them for who they really are.

I have watched these kids from when they were really young and had them in my home many, many times which allowed them to get to know me and for me to know them.

While my relationship is different than my daughter has with her friends, there is a relationship. I think that is key to understand as your role as a photographer. I am not trying to be their friends that hang out every day. I want to be like a parent the safe space that they can hang out and be themselves.