Pastel portraits, the past revisited.
Our young model in this image is Leila, who you may remember appeared on this blog a couple weeks back. This series of portraits was created in the studio. Leila had just finished tossing her hair all over the place for a photo series. She rested for a moment, and while she did, an idea formed. Many years ago, way back in the day when we used film. Excitations led the way in Australia with a style of photography we called pastel portraits. At the time we had been playing with a number of ideas and one struck a cord with us. Probably the simplest, yet purest form of creating studio portraits we’ve ever used.
Pastel portraits was simple a photographer, a small high quality 35mm camera and a standard lens. Our subjects sat opposite the photographer, up close and our sessions would begin. The pastel portrait look was created by soft lighting, a heavily diffused lens and a film stock designed absolutely NOT designed for portraiture. It was so wrong that it was right. We created hundreds, maybe thousands of pastel portraits over a few short years. Then the film was discontinued. New and improved films became available, but unfortunately nothing came close to producing the same effect.
The success of pastel portraits was due not only to the unique look, but also the intimate contact the subject had with the viewer. Being up close and personal with a camera, and having a relationship with a camera up close. Somehow produced images that compelled you to look into them. Probably more so than any style of portrait photography since. The image above of Leila isn’t a pastel portrait, but it reminds me of the style and to a degree I guess we could say it was a digital equivalent of the original pastel portraits style.
Broken Hill photography, always great fun in great locations
We always look forward to crossing the mighty Murray River and heading north to Broken Hill. Not sure what it is about this amazing rural city and its people. That makes photography both fun and visually interesting. Historic buildings, wide open spaces and home for many talented artists. Broken Hill photography is always a rewarding for us.
On one of our recent trips there we had the opportunity to photograph Rebecca and Paul. Great young couple. We are going to photograph Rebecca and Paul’s wedding shortly. Being in Broken Hill, their home town, presented the perfect opportunity to catch up and shoot a couple of engagement photos.
At first glance this may appear to be just another engagement photo. However, the rose bush in the background of this image has a special place in Rebecca’s family history. We wanted to somehow mould it into this image. Worked lots of angles, some more interesting photographically than this one. I’ve included this image as an example of how subjects can lift a straight stock standard pose and make it really interesting. It’s called body language. Not how Rebecca has her right leg bent, toe just off the ground and a slight arch in her back. Adding action to an otherwise static image. Paul’s casual relaxed attitude also adds to the statement that these two are comfortable with each other and in love.
The problem with Broken Hill photography, if there is one is. To many location choices. Better than not enough I know but you gotta have something to complain about right! Our second location for the shoot with Rebecca and Paul was the historic settlement of Silverton. Backdrop for many Movies and TV commercials. Home to a whole bunch of talented artists and their galleries. Amazing stone buildings and a massive old goal. There are even Camel rides available… but apparently that’s not a good photo idea when your subjects wearing short red dress with high heels. Just a thought!
So how come we shot the above image at Silverton, without any of the buildings or environment. It’s a photographer thing. Flat ground, blue sky, white fluffy clouds and red dress…. lets just do a shot of you guys and the sky. For those worried that I might have lost the plot. We also shot at the Silverton Outback Art Gallery thanks to John Dynon, artist. And spent a bit of time in goal. Fantastic locations, great people….. outback Australia.
Maternity photos, a time to celebrate the beauty of a new life beginning.
We spend a fair bit of our time here at excitations producing wonderful maternity photos. Some very traditional, others very arty and contemporary. No matter what your tastes in maternity photography, excitations can accommodate your ideas. Recently we have been doing a number of modern fine art style images for new mums to be. Bit like the one of the lovely Rochelle above. Also completed recently a couple of “Low Key” black and white images. Very dark background and mother to be also heavily shaded. Just letting the soft studio lighting wrap around mum’s tummy to form a very beautiful and moody image. Not at all like traditional pregnacy photos.
A special reason to choose excitations for your maternity photos.
We’ve never really bothered to tell anyone about this. excitations offer a free newborn photography session with every maternity photo session booked. So you get the best of both worlds. Great pictures of mum while she’s glowing with pregnancy. Plus a photo session with the new born bundle of joy. While bub is in that oh so cute stages of their new life. Even if the dollars are a bit scarce now. Don’t put off having the photo session. We don’t mind if you hold off on ordering prints etc. Just make sure you have the maternity photo session and the the free newborn session. Because you can’t turn back time.
I don’t want to get naked for maternity photos.
That’s the good part. You choose whatever style sits within your comfort level. Some mums to be love the bare skin look. Others take advantage of some of the amazing fashions available to show off their “baby bumps”. It’s all a matter of taste. It would be a boring world photographically if we didn’t all have different tastes in photography styles.
Engagement photos on location, always a lot of fun and sometimes a challenge
As time came closer to photographing Sarah and Natale. We became more nervous. Looking at the local weather radar every few minutes wasn’t helping. Out to the West, headed right towards us, a large band of rain. Would the rain hold off? Better still would it pass by early? We had planned to meet and shoot at an outdoor location. An outdoor location without shelter to be more precise. Funnily enough, rain and photography of people go well together. There is something about shooting in the rain that is so special. Probably the light, which helps bring a lovely saturation to colour. Off course rain within reason. A torrential downpour isn’t helpful.
A couple of frantic phone calls and a hasty plan B was adopted. Photographing people in rainy conditions may make for good pictures. Creating engagement photos in the rain, especially when our couple are going formal is another story. We decided to go with locations, while still outdoors, had areas of concrete or timber under foot. As any all of you girls know. Beautiful delicate, full length gowns, high heals and soft ground…. A good mixture they are not.
We spent some time with Sarah and Natale at the Mildura Wharf. Not because it is one of our favorite locations. Just for its hard timber flooring and proximity to the Murray River. After playing around for quite a while with a very monochromatic scene. The tiniest of tiny openings in the clouds gave us about a minutes worth of background colour. As the old song says. “Never let a chance go by Norm”. We didn’t. for this engagement photo of Natale and Sarah we had to use a bit of remotely controlled hotshoe flash to pop some light onto their faces. After all who’s ever heard of engagement photos where you couldn’t she the couples face….. Well actually…. We may have done that a couple of times. That’s another story for another day
Autumn look, mid Winter
Earlier this week I posted a sample outdoor portrait photography image from a shoot with the Howard family. There were supposed to be two photographs with that post, I forgot. Photographed just a few metres from from the last image, the shot below features a popular garden location. However, this is the first time we’ve shot it from this angle.
A few remaining leaves on a tree, plus very low level late light adds warmth to our shot. We knew this was a look we wanted, two weeks before our outdoor portrait photography session. Just wasn’t all that confident leaves would stay in place until portrait day.
- Darren and Fiona were good sports about being plonked down in a patch of fallen leaves, with beautiful late afternoon sun doing the rest.
Another day another portrait
Taking another couple steps to camera left and another chance for some great outdoor portrait photography. Choosing a high camera angle, with the same dry leaves under the same tree. Totally different look. Great photo locations are often overlooked. Mostly because what looks good to the camera, often isn’t that appealing to the untrained eye. Finding a photo location isn’t science, more a feeling. Shoot for long enough and a photographer instinctively feels how a location will work. What’s the saying… practice makes perfect!
- Michaylah and Caleb posed for this kinda fun not to serious outdoor portrait. Unfortunately because of all the fine detail in this image it’s not going to reproduce well at web size, but as an enlargement it’ll look great.
Outdoor portrait photography
Is about finding a background that works on two levels. The location has to enhance the feel of the outdoor portrait we are creating. As well as helping to portray our subjects in a manner that they will feel is flattering to them. While not distracting from the main subjects of our outdoor photography session. Many times we as photographers will see a great spot to take photos but light or environment refuse to play.
However, being at home in our own studio garden, we have a good idea what areas will work best at different times. The trick for us then is to make sure we have locations suitable for all hours of the day.
Having a large spacious indoor shooting area is fantastic. Having that studio surrounded by outdoor photo settings that constantly change is wonderful. While it is true we often use the same location over and over again, there is also a continually changing array of possibilities as trees and plants grow and die. Seasons change, new locations come online and older sets mature and take on a new look.
The most important thing about our outdoor studio is that we are in control. If we want long grass we let it grow, if we want the lawn covered in leaves, we simple let them fall. See a new angle but it needs some branches trimmed… out comes the chain saw and bingo we’re in business. Robyn and Ian see excitations garden studio as an ongoing project. A bit like a sculpture that never ever gets to be finished, it just keeps on evolving and creating new and interesting backdrops for their photography.
- excitations created this wonderfully relaxed and casual portrait of the Howard family recently at there Yelta studio complex. Using late evening light and the warmth that light creates through a small part of the excitations studio garden.
We’ve been shooting a lot of natural, spontaneous portraits of children outdoors at our photography complex at Yelta recently. Most times we are just working with the kids, while mum and dad look on, however occasionally we’ve been able to convince mum or dad to join in with the fun.
Creating something a little different can often be something as simple working in a new location, or as with the outdoor portrait below, creating a new environment in which to play. While the great weather lasts, please consider getting your excitations outdoor portraits organized real soon, because Wintery weather is not far away. That doesn’t mean we stop shooting outdoors, just means working gets a little less comfortable for our subjects.
- Serena and Odin photographed right in the middle of excitations studio driveway. Pose inspired by Serena, and adapted by the team at excitations. While not exactly the style of spontaneous child portraits we usually create, we just love the feel of this beautiful moment between mother and son.
I told you I would post another body building shot last week. Sorry, I got to busy to even think about blog posts. No chance of me getting into mischief in the last few days.
- This gorgeous lady is Angela Petruzzella, she place first in the novice section and second overall at the recent Tri State Championships held in Mildura recently.
I’ve got a couple of these body building images to post, so I’m going to spread them over a couple of days. First cab off the rank so to speak is Nadia Robinson. A local Sunraysia woman who is, as you can see, very nicely shaped. Lots of hard work and dedication to her sport was rewarded, when Nadia collected trophy’s for the Ms Fit Body Open Division and Ms Fit Body Overall. Well done Nadia.
- Straight after competing, Nadia headed to the excitations portable studio for a photo shoot.
A couple weeks back, the excitations team had the pleasure of photographing some of the competitors in the Tri State Championships for the World Natural Bodybuilding Federation.
I’ve gotta say that I’ve never really “Got It” when it came to body building, but after watching these atheletes preparing for their turn in the spotlight. I have a whole new understanding of what they do. I can only begin to imagine the enormous amount of training that goes into this sport. As our temporary location studio was set up immediately behind stage, we saw competitors pumping themselves up, both physically and mentally before going onstage to compete. Of course we also saw them returning from stage immediately after competing.
I’ve always understood the art in any human body. Painters, sculptures and more recently photographers work with the human form to create art. These guys and gals create art with their own bodies. Bit by bit, through diet, exercise and amazing will they prepare themselves for competition. Then like a sprinter who spends month, years training for an event, it is all over in seconds.
Such is their conditioning, they train to reach their peak for only a couple of hours on competition day. Physical and mental exhaustion follows. At this event, competitors achieve their amazing looks by natural means alone. Which means there where no muscle bound mountains blown up by artificial chemical substances. Just lots of bloody hard work.
I now appreciate the personal journey many of these competitors have made to get to where they are today. My hat goes off to them.
Pictured above is a new competitor in the World Natural Bodybuilding Federations Asia Pacific Region, Maria Karagiorgakis from Melbourne. I’ll post a couple other competition pics as soon as I get permission to post them.