Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Thanks Ernie

Hernan Passport

My brother-in-law called me today asking for a passport photo.  Sure thing I said, I'd be glad to help.  Little did I realize that my over-thinking would get in the way.

I knew what I wanted to do.  I would do a single light setup with a softbox to camera left while using bounce fill on his right.  Looking above you can see that is not what we ended up with.  Let me say first off that Hernan (my brother-in-law), Ernie as we call him is an extremely talented artist.  Understanding what all good artists do, that the art must work for the intended audience, he went to the U.S. Passport office web site for direction on how the photo should look.  Thanks to him I learned that the photo needed to be much simpler than I conceptualized it.

There are all kinds of rules by the way.  Subject position in the print, size of the print, pose and even lighting direction are all on the site for reference.  I was amazed.  Fundamentally, the light needed to be even with little if any shadows.  In the end I had one light on each side, set to provide even (what some would call flat) lighting.

It was perfect in its simplicity, it was everything a passport photo should be.  Better than the P&S passport photo's taken at the local drug store, showing a bit of the character of the subject while being simple and straightforward so any customs agent can easily identify Ernie and the proper passport owner.

So why is this post entitled "Thanks Ernie"?  Because thanks to Ernie I focused on what the picture needed to be and stopped over-thinking what had to be done.  In focusing on what the portrait needed to be I was better able to capture the person my subject is.

Thank you Ernie.  Thanks for the opportunity, thanks for the lesson in not over-thinking.