Monday, June 15, 2009

Portrait Session in Ybor City

Last week I headed down to Ybor City in Tampa to photograph Ashley. Ashley is a singer and musician so we decided to incorporate her guitar into some of the shots. From the very beginning I knew that it was going to be a great session because she is very easy-going, fun and inventive with her posing. I don't think I gave her detailed direction the entire time.... I just took pictures while she did whatever she wanted.

This picture was taken just as the sun was starting to set which gave me the great glow off the railroad tracks. I used off-camera lighting for the entire shoot so that I could have more control over the shadows. If I had to pick just one image from the day to keep it would probably be this one. Notice how the tracks curve down and lead to Ashley? This is a great trick to use when framing people for portraits.

Still at the railroad tracks. I cropped the tracks out of the shot because they were just too distracting to the final image.

I'm usually not a big fan of "selective color" in my photographs. I feel that it's been overused by photographers (especially wedding photographers.) Just because you can make something in the picture be in color while everything else is black and white doesn't mean you should. For this picture against a graffiti covered wall, I think it works. Usually, the thing that's in color stands out and becomes the focus of the picture. The difference is that in this picture, the color tends to make the black and white stand out because it is behind her.

My original intention was to have a sunset shoot but Ashley was running late and it got dark on us. So, I quickly started looking for ways we could turn the night to our advantage. In Tampa Bay there isn't a much better place for night photography than Ybor City with the lights and old Tampa feel (I love cobblestones). So, I put Ashley in the middle of the street, pulled out a second flash (lucky for me I tend to over-pack for photo shoots) and started taking pictures. As you can imagine, a picture like this takes a little more work than the others from the session. I have one flash to my left shooting through an umbrella and another on the ground under a car behind Ashley (see the bright flash on the right side?). Ideally I would have preferred to not have that back flash show so bright but I was hampered by space and the lack of a second tripod (wasn't planning for night shoot, remember?). Still, it works because it could just be light from a car. It makes a big difference in the picture because it puts a rim light on her legs.

Ashley changed outfits again (by the way, can I just say that the restrooms in the 15th street parking garage are cleaner than my house? Nice surprise...) and we moved to the curb. Careful observers might notice something missing from the guitar in this shot. It was distracting to me so I took it out with Photoshop.

It was getting late and we were ready to wrap but Ashley still had some stamina so we walked down to the main drag for a few more quick shots. I like this one because I was only using one flash but the car behind Ashley on the street acted like a rim light (see the nice halo of light around her head?).
Sweaty and tired, we called it a night. It was a fantastic shoot and a lot of fun! As always, you can see more wedding photography and portrait photography on my website.