• Jennifer Johnson

Afternoon Quickie

My friend, colleague, and former roommate let me make this portrait of her yesterday afternoon. I call it a quickie because it took us about ten minutes to get the shot itself, and I edited it while we sipped a glass of wine together.

For me, this is not a highly-stylized, destined-for-a-magazine image. Not all of them are! What it does represent is practice and a dedication to keep working on my craft and an attempt to show Alyssa just how beautiful she is! It was a very grey, bleak day outside. Sometimes the light on grey days (or "flat days") is absolutely divine for photography, and other days it's just alright. I would classify yesterday as "just alright," but it worked out just fine.

How we got this shot:

Alyssa was sitting on the arm of the sofa that is in our kitchen, which is positioned just next to a north-facing window. The lights were off in my kitchen, which provided the darkness on the left side of the frame. Alyssa's knees were facing toward me (directly head on) and her shoulders and torso were shifted toward the light. This provides the look of organic movement in her body, as opposed to sitting facing directly toward the window.

I went into this show knowing it would eventually be a black and white image, as she had admired a self portrait I took and I wanted to create a dramatic, timeless image for her. So, knowing that, I wanted to make sure that we got some of the highlights in her hair, though I would have liked to see more in the upper part. It could be achieved with more Photoshop work, but my philosophy is that I ought to be doing the least amount of editing possible in a shot like this. It's a challenge for myself.

In Photoshop, I simply added a curve, added a few (5%) burns (dodging & burning is the process in a darkroom of lightening or darkening the exposure of a photograph, it is no different in Photoshop except that you have more control and you can undo any overdo's you make...) to her cheek, nose, chin, left corner below mouth, and her fingers. I upped the exposure on her eyes. Then, I added a b&w gradient layer. Adjusted some of the exposure and contrast, called it a day.

If I were to do this photograph for a paying client and we had hours to do the work, we would be using my lights, softboxes, and it would have been of her entire body. Also, I should note, the backdrop here is a wool blanket that is normally on our couch that we tacked to the wall.

Anyhow, it's really important to practice your craft, even if every image isn't destined for greatness. I think Alyssa is beautiful, and she really enjoyed this image.



Shutter Speed // 1/125

Aperture // F2

ISO // 250

Lens // 50mm

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