Portrait session: immortalizing long hair

 

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When a friend told me that she was letting her hair grow with the intent of giving some length away for kids afflicted with leukemia, I offered to shoot her portrait with her hair at about their longest. She gracefully accepted so off we went.

I have written about the importance of makeup in portraiture and concluded that I might not shoot close portraits without professional makeup anymore:

https://sph3re.wordpress.com/2012/11/20/makeup-for-dummies-aka-guys-who-would-be-photographers/

Well, I broke that rule… My friend never sports makeup so I thought that shooting without any makeup at all would make for a truer portrait.

I used a very simple lighting setup, mostly with a single medium-sized softbox with and without the addition of a reflector.

I thought to myself: shooting long hair means using a fan. I know it is cliché but I like movement in the hair. Since I do not have a fan, my friend had to provide one. I know, ghetto. Actually, it was a doubly ghetto shoot since, in the absence of an assistant, the model had to hold with her left hand either a small reflector or the small fan itself while managing no smiles, quarter smiles, half smiles or whatever I was asking for. Who said it is easy to model?

I wanted to take head and shoulders portraits and for those, I tend to use a 100mm lens. However, since my friend has a narrower than average face, I also used a 50mm lens to avoid the slight perspective compression associated with a medium telephoto lens.

I really like the variety of shots that came out of the one and a half hour photo shoot. My favorites are probably the closeups with shoulders square to the camera as they show the portrait of a strong confident young woman. Some images show her joyful nature while others convey a slightly melancholic feel. And the funny thing is that she told me before the shoot that she is very camera-shy and dislikes posing. I hope this shoot has changed that since I envision this to be part 1 of 2, the second shoot coming after the gift of hair.

Has this shoot changed my stance about makeup? I think so. Professional makeup significantly helps for highlight control so I had to soften highlights in post-processing but otherwise, it worked out fine. I would definitely consider taking portraits without any makeup in the future if the subject is comfortable doing so.

Click on any picture in the gallery for a larger and sharper version.

Equipment: Canon DSLR 5D Mk II, Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX lens, Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L macro lens, RAW conversion using Lightroom 4.1

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