Most Graduation photo shoots take place in the summer or fall, and the season dictates a great deal of the look and the feel of the resulting photos. I just finished a shoot in very wintry environment in Northwest Arkansas and I found it much more interesting than anticipated. The bare trees, the ice in the background, the textures of shaggy horse fur and (vintage family mink - no animals in the last 50 years killed in the making of these photos!) the hats, jackets and fur coat worn by my client made the season become a little bit Dr. Zhivago, a little bit Old School Movie Star, and a little grungy funky.
Some new trends in graduation photography involve a kind of "dream photo shoot" expressing the personality and the ideas of the subject. Young women especially, but also young men, are not so excited about a formal photograph that their parents can put on the mantle, and they have begun to want the dollars spent on this rite of passage to reflect more of their burgeoning self image and creative spirit.
Young people today are very sophisticated in their visual tastes, weaned on HDR, 3D films, a vast arean of special effects and digital manipulation as well fashion images from Vogue and Next Top Model. More and more graduation photographers are having to get creative to keep their clients and studio portraiture is increasingly rare. Their is a rising market for Fantasy shoots with costumes, in unusual locations, colorful and painterly developing treatments, and a variety of looks.
Parents are paying, however, and they still want to capture the innocence and personality in a classic portrait that shows that light behind the eyes of the child they love, now close to independence. It is also a chance to get those photos taken that people have put off for years, and know that at least you will have one great photo of the child you cherish.
So, it is an interesting conundrum for the photographer -- how to please both clients, parent and child. How do we manage to make the girl next door look like a model? How do we come up with with new and interesting locations? How do we make a profit when one is traveling to one or two locations, doing more than simple processing, helping with ideas and costumes, and how to show off and showcase the resulting shots? In a kind of wild version of a debutante ball, seniors hope that these graduation photo shoots will make a big splash on Facebook.
Recently I had the opportunity to take photos of an unusually beautiful and talented High School Senior and try some of these ideas with a girl next door who photographs like a model and who was very clear about what she wanted.
In some ways it was easy, because she is a natural model. In some ways it was hard, not only because of the freezing temps, but also in attempting to capture the spirit and reality of a person in the tradition of classic portraiture, and get thethe fantasy element my client hoped for.
It was 20 degrees with on a hillside dotted with curious horses, snow, ice and a swept by freezing wind. No that's not a fan getting her hair to blow glamorously -- its icy northern gust of hail!
Thanks to the beautiful Chloe for her talent and warmth and endurance! She was such a pleasure to work with and her styling work made the day memorable. Also, I got to shoot with my son, photographer Vance Green, something we seldom get to do, and the difference in our styles made it fun for both of us. I have to say I totally envy his Canon 5d and great glass -- my 50d just isn't as sharp!
A painterly look -- a little "Lady of Shallott" on dry land
Here are some of the shots I took and some of initial experiments with different treatments, that I'm working on.
Vance gave me a home-made tilt shift lens for Xmas -- tricky but a blast to use.