Sometimes the Passing of Time is a Good Thing

I often don’t notice the passing of time. Sure my daughter continues to grow up too fast, and everyone (but me) looks a little bit older with every passing year. But it struck me recently, when I ran into one of my first portrait clients, that there is at least one good thing about the passage of time.

Penny stopped me while I was out on a walk to ask if I was available to shoot her portrait right away. My first reaction was to think that “she can’t need another portrait already, why we just did her last one 1…2…3…4…?? 4 years ago?” Well truthfully, it didn’t seem possible. She hasn’t changed, and I haven’t changed. But my skills and experience have. They have in fact gotten better with time!

When Penny arrived at the studio, I asked if she had any suggestions for a different look. “Well,” she admitted, “I want this portrait to look a little more friendly and approachable.” In fact, she confided that someone had commented that her old portrait looked a bit like an “Ice Queen.”

Looking back at the portrait we did in 2007 (and knowing Penny to be the warm person she is) I had to agree. My idea on that original portrait was to make her look professional. I accomplished that with the pose, but she also looks stiff. Looking at the picture again, I also notice that I didn’t have real command of my lighting setup. I blew out the highlights on Penny’s blonde hair, and there’s an odd shadow falling across her nose.

For Penny’s new portrait, I used a much softer lighting setup, and a pose that made her look much more approachable. I also realized that being more comfortable as a photographer, I could concentrate more on making my subject comfortable as well. I think the changes in my skill are noticeable when you compare the two photographs side by side. I was happy with the results, and so was my client. Take a look at the comparison, and tell me what you think.

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