This is a photograph of my friend, Michelle. I have photographed her off and on for about 25 years now. I feel like we were just kids when we first met and started working together. I cast Michelle in a bunch of print ad campaigns in the 1990's and she came across as the perfect (aspirational) young "soccer mom." In fact, I considered her to be the gold standard for the higher end real estate projects we were routinely called on to produce.
She got in touch recently and asked me to take portraits of her to use for public relations in her speaking career. I was more than happy to oblige as I have a beautiful black and white portrait of her on the wall, just to the right of my desk. Looking at it gives me a boost of confidence when I'm working on bids and proposals because I can look at that print and know that I have been able to produce work I love in the past, and there's a better than even chance that I can do it again. I'd say, given that I've had the print on the wall since I moved my office here 20 years ago, that Michelle has already pre-paid me a hundred times over for any new portrait I might make of her now.
This image was done with simple lighting and straightforward camera work. The lights were studio electronic flash with one head into a big, big modifier to the right of the frame and the second light in a small, 12x16 inch, softbox between Michelle and the background.
The camera was a Sony A7Rii and the lens was the (too sharp) Sony 70-200mm f4.0 G.
I did a bit of post production to soften Michelle's skin tone and retouched a few wrinkles around her eyes. You might not like retouching and you may think I've overdone it but this is more like what Michelle looks like in my mind's eye. And what I wanted to create was an honest, kind, happy, warm image of someone who embodies those qualities.
In some senses a good portrait is part of the routine nature of my business. But to me, when it comes to friends in the studio, it's more an opportunity to catch up, share good news and bad news, and bolster each other to face the future with optimism, and a sense that we are all connected to each other. Some more strongly than others.
Here is a photograph of Michelle from an earlier session (1992).
She helps me understand that beauty transcends time.