Last December I blogged about my experiences with the Dreaded, Infamous Couples Self-Portrait. I blame it all on Mandy, who was insistent that I take an up-to-date couples photo of us. Something about how there hadn’t been a good one since, well, ever. It took three separate attempts, three complete setups and tear downs of my living room studio, before we finally got a photo we were happy with. This is the stuff that divorces are born from.
Now another year has rolled around, Christmas is drawing near again, and the topic has resurfaced (although this time my mother gets the blame). We needed another couples portrait, which means I had to relinquish my comfortable spot behind the camera and step out in front of it like everyone else. See me smile…
The good news is, I’m not a complete dolt, and have learned from last year’s torture. Instead of trying to be in the photo and shoot it at the same time, I enlisted help. It’s good to have camera-savvy photographer friends like Paul, who was only too happy to step in and work the final magic. I setup the studio, tuned in the lights, then handed him the wireless transmitter and took my place next to Mandy to grin and bear it.
This may not have been my most original setup ever, since the concept and lighting were both lifted directly from a photo Mandy found online. It’s about as basic as you can get: a Salvation Army tablecloth as a backdrop, Mandy and I sitting in kitchen chairs about 2 feet in front of it, and a Speedlite just to camera right through a shoot-through umbrella. I also added a second Speedlite & umbrella overhead, aimed more towards the backdrop and powered down a level, just for some extra fill.
In the end I edited three different shots: one “nice” image to include in our holiday cards, and two silly shots that were just for fun. The processing all began in ACR, where I’ve been playing with the VSCO Film plugin I recently purchased (more on that to come). The plugin makes it easy to emulate the look of 6 classic films, and was an easy launching point for the filmy, slightly cross-processed look that Mandy wanted.
Here’s the one thing I definitely learned: having someone else shoot the photo for me was a HUGE help. I can’t thank Paul enough. Not only did he make life a lot easier by composing, focusing, and shooting the photos, but he also made it easier for me to smile and try to enjoy myself in the photos. It’s hard to relax and look happy when you’re running back and forth to the camera. My advice to everyone is to recruit a friend to help, even if it means you mount the camera on a tripod and just get them to trip the shutter.