Shooting Myself

When my new website (and this blog) went live on August 1, 2012, it required a headshot of yours truly for my “About” page. As I prepared the final draft of my website and filled my portfolios with image with relative ease, I struggled to find a suitable portrait of myself to accompany my bio.

Like most photographers, I am usually behind the camera and have a shortage of good portraits–candid or posed–from which to choose. The self-portrait that I had been using since August 1 was not ideal, and it has been on my to-do list ever since then to remedy this situation.

This past weekend I finally had a break in my busy schedule, and with the help of my girlfriend Jacklyn, I executed an idea had been percolating in my mind.

I wanted a candid but well lit and composed portrait. I locked in a great highrise apartment location with a kitchen bar counter extending in front of a living area with a big bank of windows. I liked the openness of the space. I also had a recently-acquired lighting tool that created beautiful sunny light, which would be perfect for sculpting the light on my face without clashing with the lighting of the surrounding environment.

I sketched out how I would compose and light my portrait using my location and lighting to best advantage:

Then on Sunday, I assembled my lighting kit and headed over to the location. I set up, framed the shot, tweaked the lighting, and had Jacklyn operate the camera (and keep me laughing). I tethered the camera to a laptop with the screen facing toward me, so I could look over every 5-10 frames and see how things were looking.

Here is the winning shot, which was just placed on to the “About” page on my main website:


Some changes were made to the set-up on the fly, but if you compare the finished product to my sketch, you’ll see that the result pretty closely matches the original concept. My fancy new lighting tool reproduced sunlight well, and I am happy with the end result.

Even though I conceived of this as a self-portrait, it’s probably more appropriate to call it a co-portrait. Jacklyn was instrumental in framing and focusing, and had the all-important task of loosening up the uptight subject!

(Whew, glad that’s over. Now back to my comfort zone behind the camera for at least a year!)