My friend, photographer Jeff Konczal shares what is behind one of his recent photographs. One of Jeff's jobs is making portraits of leaders in the community - CEOs, public figures, etc. - and recently he photographed Chrissie Brodigan.
I wanted to write about where I find inspiration for portraits.
Once I know the name of the person I am scheduled to photograph, I begin with a Google search to find out a bit about who they are and what they do. I can usually find some detail from that simple Google search that I can begin building a loose idea of what I might try to achieve from a portrait.
For the portrait of Chrissie Brodigan, a researcher who has worked with Github, Mozilla, and Meetup, I looked around her blog and quickly realized she works with data. My initial thought was to try to convey something about how she works with data in a visual way. For the portrait, I used a sparkly foam board and set my flashes to bounce off it. The results were different. Random colors of light shot back at her face or onto the wall, and other times it was just white light reflected back. During the portrait session, Chrissie mentioned that the sparkle board I was using had the same sparkle pattern as a sticker she had on her laptop, and that she loved sparkles (I don't know if she said she loved sparkles, but she seemed pretty excited). It was a little bit of luck that the same pattern I was using to reflect my light was also a sticker she has on her laptop, but that made me feel that I had found some thread of who she is, outside of the whole (different points of light = data) thing.
This is where I found my inspiration for this portrait. Other times, it can come from a completely different direction, but I still always start with a bit of Google research.