This week, I started my portrait project and coerced my friend Sarah into being my first subject. Being the good sport that she is, Sarah suffered with me through the awkwardness of trying to figure out composition, what aperture and shutter speed I wanted to use, etc.
We went to her favorite doughnut shop and I started to take some photos. At first, it was weird, but as we started talking, the camera disappeared and I tried to catch some more natural shots. Over the hour, I captured 115 exposures and figured I probably had enough.
On the way home, I was talking to Sarah about my desire to take a skyline shot of the city and was trying to think of locations. We drove by one of them and got out to take a look. After a minute, we agreed that it probably wouldn't work and started walking back to the car. As we did, I saw this wall of graffiti and asked Sarah to come stand against it. I instructed her to put her foot up on the wall and she started laughing - likely at my excitement. I took four quick shots (I didn't bother to check my camera's settings) and we got back into the car.
Later that day, I started editing the photographs I took outside the donut shop. There were four that I thought were good and one that I initially settled on for the project. But, then I opened the four shots I took of Sarah against the wall and discovered that these photographs (the ones I hadn't planned on taking, the ones I took rather hastily, the ones I took at f8 because I didn't bother to check my camera's settings) turned out to be the ones I liked the most.
Here are three lessons I learned:
1. Always know your camera's settings. I like the photograph I captured. But taking it at f8, 200 ISO was a mistake. I should have used a larger aperture to capture more light, a faster shutter speed for sharpness, and shot at 100 ISO to limit noise. Did it affect the final image? Arguably not. But, if I got back and realized these were the images I wanted to use, but the settings made for a poor photograph, I would be disappointed.
2. At first, the session was a little awkward - working with a new subject can be. Thankfully, Sarah and I know each other well. But, when we started talking about our family, we both relaxed and enjoyed the conversation, and it became easier to take the photos. It was a good reminder about how a making a connection with your subject is important.
3. When I saw the wall, I felt compelled to take a photograph. I knew what I wanted and instructed Sarah with much more confidence than when we were at the doughnut shop. I didn't care about awkwardness or coming off too demanding. My gut said, "take the photograph" and I complied. It was the best image I took all day.