Friday, November 24, 2017

Film festival, again

Judy Greer, Toronto, Sept. 2017

GOING THROUGH MY FILM FESTIVAL SHOOTS AGAIN, I found a few shots that I missed the first and second time around. It's rewarding to find some more decent portraits, of course, but it's also a bit depressing, since I enjoy doing this kind of work so much, and I do it so rarely these days.

It's hard to find standout frames in a portrait shoot. At first you might be looking for the most flattering shot, but it takes a few more passes to see the shots where something revealing is happening in your subject's expression, or the frame where they've relaxed just enough to let an interesting mood or the trace of a thought - whether it's anxiety or impatience or whatever - read in their features.

Jessie Buckley, Toronto, Sept. 2017
Ed Oxenbould, Toronto, Sept. 2017
Cedric the Entertainer, Toronto, Sept. 2017

The Judy Greer shot, at top, might be the moment when she let her discomfort with how closely I was shooting register. In any case, it works as a portrait of an actress with a comic gift. The Cedric the Entertainer shot is at least most of the way to what I was trying to get with a portrait of a comedian that was more intense than funny. (Most comedians have, at the core of their character, a kind of anxious discomfort that's anything but humorous.)

Anneke Sluiters, Toronto, Sept. 2017
Ksenia Solo, Toronto, Sept. 2017

Anneke Sluiters was fully intense for nearly every frame of my shoot with her. I processed the first frame I chose from that shoot to highlight her performance rather than something flattering. She apparently didn't like that, and complained to her publicist, so I took that shot down. I think this one strikes a decent balance between the two.

I got a performance of a different kind from Ksenia Solo - something more like a film noir heroine (or femme fatale.) When you shoot pretty people - and women, especially - the temptation to slide into mere glamour photography is tempting. Some clients (and subjects) want glamour photography, but it's never really satisfying to go over contact sheets (or digital files) and find nothing more than that, so it's best to gently push for a bit more all the time.

These are issues that I used to agonize over all the time. Getting a chance to shoot portraits again, I realize how much I actually missed that agonizing.

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