I was asked to shoot a portrait of Alice O’Kieffe, a writer, in her home in Southern California. I initially thought of a “writer at work” setup. Looking at the yard and considering the natural indirect light, we set up a writing area outside, where the natural light was hitting the background just right while giving me a well silhouetted subject to light up with my flash unit.
The nature of the connection (or disconnection) between the subject and the camera is what remains forever and defines how the subject connects to anyone who will ever see the image, that is the most important thing that makes an effective portrait and can’t be faked. To find that connection, exploration is very important and since this kind of session doesn’t usually have a predetermined layout, together with adjusting the light, directing, walking around and exploring the subject while shooting helps finding the sought after frame.
While packing up the equipment, I noticed that Alice went and set in another part of the yard where the natural light looked perfect to me, so I shot a few more images, you can see one of my favorites below.