Whenever opportunity knocks on my door, I usually race to the door then calm myself before opening so I look all collected as I do so. One such occurrence came when a fellow photographer of the university photography club, asked me to do a shoot for some students living on campus hall. She told me it was just about five persons, final year and just a group shot.
However when I spoke to the contact she linked me with, it was about 10 persons, a mixture of both final and current students as well as the fact that they wanted several shots. This by the way was all conveyed an hour prior to the shoot and I was considering cancelling since I hate last-minute plans and to be blindsided by these new details had me taken aback. However I got into a professional mode and confirmed a time as I got my gear ready. Thankfully I always have my batteries charged, equipment clean and all ready for the grab when I’m ready to move at any given time.
Once on location and ready to set up, only 3 of the 10 persons were ready, and so as I watched my watch and kept my patience in check, I used the time to visualize the concepts i would go with. It was a small area to work with but we managed to get everyone comfortable and arranged when all ten were finally present. I knew none of them, had never been on hall before but this is what I enjoy doing, making moments like this last and so I got everyone comfortable, make a few jokes to lighten the mood and then got in position….midway the lady in the very centre joined and so it became 11. Photography is anything but predictable and so I have learnt to adjust and deliver on a whim. This was the formal segment for the ladies who I later found out go by the title of “Phoenix” (rising from the ashes) and they certainly are confident and driven females so the title is accurately attributed.
Next I wanted to get a more impromptu random shot for which they each had to quickly find a spot and
pose by the time I said “ready” and this is what evolved –
Next we moved outside and seeing as we started 1/2 hour late, the sun was beginning to set but I had taken this into consideration prior and already had a mental plan of how I would proceed. Another thing about Photography is that as light changes, so does your image and so you are always adjusting or manipulating it to accomplish your vision.
As I was working with these ladies I realized striking varying personalities that made them each stand out and so for the final shot I’ll share, I scattered them a bit and told them each to pose. I didn’t however tell them how to pose because the stance they chose showed their personality and I didn’t want to tamper with that. Also by now seeing as it was the last set of light for the evening, the background was illuminated brightly by the setting sun but I wanted the focus to be on them and so I toned down the background so that they would stand out even more. The coordinator of the group chose the colour scheme which I think fitted this photo exceptionally well. The Phoenix is a fiery bird and with the red these ladies certainly were radiating the fierce and fiery look.
As the sun finally set and the night began to set in, we were finished and for a totally impromptu shoot, it had all come together but only because they were willing to take direction and also felt comfortable enough to offer their own suggestions. I may be the photographer but for me I never take that to mean that my client cannot have an input.
My job doesn’t end when I say that’s w a wrap and we part ways as many clients of photographers and the general public think. No, my job has now begun seeing as on a small camera playback screen everything often looks surreal and almost perfect but when I get home and blow it up on my monitor, that is when the true test begins. The editing process can be tedious and often time-consuming but as an artist I know what I want representing me, and therefore it is worth the time and effort.
It was a pleasure working with these 11 Caribbean ladies of varying nationalities ( Jamaica, St. Kitts…) but more so upon delivery, their satisfaction is truly what makes my job worth it and rewarding. The future looks fiery bright for these ladies!