The making of a portrait – Northwest Arkansas Advertising Photographer

So this is a story about a recent photo shoot and how I was able to take a situation from what could have been very bad to good. While I have photos that show the situation, and the final outcome, I’m choosing not to post them because of my client and his industry… and his image.

I was hired for a portrait shoot and was scheduled to arrive at the client’s office after hours. The afternoon of the shoot, my client decided that he wanted to do the shoot in his home office a little later than scheduled. When I arrived at the house, I was greeted by his very pregnant (as in having the baby in a few days) wife and children. The client hadn’t arrived home from work yet. I proceeded to the office, and on the way there was told that they had just moved into the house and that they hadn’t had their furniture delivered yet. This was my first red flag for the evening.

The office had beautiful wood shelves filled with family portrait canvases, an amazing antique french desk and A LOT of cardboard boxes…. As in they were lining the walls, all four of them. My client arrived and apologized for being tardy and then apologized again for the state of his office. His plan was to come home early and be ready to go when I got there, but his profession is even more hectic than mine!

I started thinking that we would put up some lights, arrange the shelves and get going on the shoot. My client was having other thoughts… he was panicked and asked if we could reschedule so he could be more prepared. Well, it wasn’t an option b/c we were on a deadline for a advertisement, so I assured him that things would look great, and he would be amazed how little of the room was actually in the photo. I started to move things around on the shelves and pull things from other rooms. I even removed shelves in order to add a lamp and bring in some ambient light. We started shooting and he was amazed at how good the background looked. We took quite a few photos among the chaos of 2 toddlers running around, jumping in and out of the pool, playing matchbox cars behind me and a very uncooperative lapel on a suit coat. In the end we were able to achieve the look and feel that the client was going for. While this was not an easy shoot, I really enjoyed working with this client.
In the end, he was a very happy, and I was able to leave with a very big smile. Some days are harder than others, and this shoot definitely started out being difficult. But in the end, I was able to use my skills in photography, years of watching my friend Rachel decorate and past experiences to make my client happy.

I told this story to a group of girl friends the next night, and showed them the photos of the room, and then the portraits. They were amazed at the difference between the two. Every now and again I have little epiphanies, and I had one that night…. as a photographer, it’s my job to make everything look better than it looks in real life. As a viewer, it’s your job to not have any idea of the magic I worked to create the image. I think a lot of people look at a beautiful image and think that the photographer must have a nice camera, or came across the perfect scene. It’s not the case. We study websites, blogs and articles in our spare time, we practice with our lights on friends in our garages and living rooms in trade for a beer or dinner , and we scout out locations for the perfect scene and time of day to shoot. It’s not always easy, but it is always fun.

I’ll end this with a quote a fellow photographer recently found…

“A photographer went to a socialite party in New York. As he entered the front door, the host said ‘I love your pictures – they’re wonderful; you must have a fantastic camera.’ He said nothing until dinner was finished, then: ‘That was a wonderful dinner; you must have a terrific stove.”  ~Sam Haskins

Share your thoughts