Lasting Memories; A Portrait Photographer’s Gift Page 2

I chose to do the photography using natural light. I knew of a nice big window facing east where the light was nice in the morning but by afternoon turned to direct sunlight, so I booked the sessions 20 minutes apart for my first morning. I brought along a plain white background, a stand, and a mirror to use as a reflector. Most of the portraits were taken with just natural light and a few times I used the narrow mirror as an accent or "kick" light. I'm not very technical and I wanted the portraits to be very straightforward. No layers, composites, or digital tricks. I wanted to create portraits that were stripped down to the main ingredients of subject matter, lighting, and expression.

The photos were taken in color using a Nikon D200 camera with a Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 lens. ISOs ranged from 400 to 600 with a custom white balance. I gave the residents color images but knew from the start that I wanted mine to be black and white, again the reason being so the attention is focused solely on the subject and not clothing or other distracting elements. My lab, LustreColor, made all my prints. Outside of converting to black and white and using a little LucisArt software for sharpening, little was done to the files.

I went three different days to capture the images. I found 10 minutes was all I really needed to take the images and my subjects were at their very best at first. We heard great stories from a lady who used to model, a man who was a PT boat commander, people with 12 children, and more. We found our subjects interesting, engaging, and thoroughly enjoyable. They have a wealth of experiences that they love sharing with others. We had a great experience ourselves and now have a wonderful connection with these people who glide by us in wheelchairs and walkers as we pass them in the hallways.

We made a commitment with the facility to go back three times a year to update their resident photos so that all families can have a nice portrait of their loved one. We are also thinking of contacting other local facilities. We'd love to do it for all, but it comes down to time constraints. I urge those of you reading this to consider helping out your local families.

I had two objectives when I began this project. One was to call attention to our elderly generation and our need to record them at this stage of their life for their families. The second was to see if I could convey my message using "pure photography" and not a lot of digital gimmickry. I will keep working on both objectives.

Steve Bedell holds Masters and Craftsman degrees from the Professional Photographers of America. Bedell recently released an educational DVD about shooting in the sun called "Sparkle Light." For more information on the DVD or to subscribe to EPhoto, his free online newsletter for professional and advanced amateur photographers, contact Bedell via e-mail at: sb@stevebedell.com.

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