‘…ohhhhh that is EPIC!’
EPIC. The word of the moment?! A buzz word for images that inspire and provide a certain ‘wanderlust’ to the viewer. It is also the word most often used when I am contacted by prospective clients for a ‘People in Landscapes’ portrait shoot.
‘I’d love you to take an EPIC portrait of me… can you do that?’
Yes, of course I can…. if I was a magician and a mind reader! However, I am merely a portrait photographer and there are a couple of factors that need consideration before I achieve ‘Epic’… and there is planning. Epic needs planning and if you want it, you need to be able to work with your landscape portrait photographer to ensure that you have the best chance of achieving the epic you think you want. And yes, I say chance…. because that is also a factor!
Firstly, there is COMMUNICATION…
I recently asked a prospective client what type of images they were wanting, to which they replied… ‘Oh just something spiritual in the wilderness?’ Okay, spiritual is good, but perhaps you can show me examples of what ‘spiritual’ actually means to you? Are you envisaging standing on your head in a meditative state while the waves crash on a beach or maybe you are using the word loosely to encompass a ball gown and a crystal ball in a graveyard? Then again, what is ‘wilderness’ to you? Are you wanting me to choose a landscape, stick a pin in the magical highland map or is perhaps, wilderness a state of your mind?
So.. before ‘epic’ is flippantly enquired upon, you first need to know what it means to you; don’t rely on a hapless photographer to ‘wing it’, give them a clue to translate, a theme of what you want them to conjure with and then communicate it to your landscape portrait photographer… !
‘I would like some engagement photo’s in the romantic highlands of Scotland’.
Brilliant! I can begin to understand the brief; I know what the photos are for, have an idea of location and can begin to consider what attire to suggest. Unless of course, you have a neoprene fetish and want to be stood in wetsuits in a loch… which is great… and could be equally as epic, but really needs to be communicated at the point of enquiry, to narrow down such individual preferences and eliminate potential embarrassment at a later stage.
I like to tell a story, to convey an emotion through a photograph. Theme is important, so it would help the landscape portrait photographer to have an idea of the mood that you want to portray. For example, do you want the final images to adorn the walls of your home? Are they to be publicly exhibited over social media as the story of a holiday or are they for a book of keepsake memories? Do you want these personal images to look dramatic… after all, you are asking me to take your portrait!?
Once a theme has been considered, props could be required… a lamp, a cane or maybe a favourite sword. Your landscape portrait photographer can help you with this and most carry emergency items for such occasions, not just to entertain the children! Like most people, being in front of the camera can make you feel self conscious. A prop could be a helpful distraction to give you a purpose and reduces the tension. Even if you are surrounded by onlooking Rabbies tourists.. feeling ridiculous in a period dress; that added bouquet of flowers, walking stick or briefcase will give you comfort and something to cling to…. for dear life perhaps!?
Once a theme is communicated and established, the landscape portrait photographer can then create the ‘look’ around the chosen location. However, to achieve the look there is another important defining factor….
Now there was a time when I would have said that ‘It is all about the woman’. What the woman is wearing… the shape of the dress, the line or colour would define my image. However, when photographing couples it has to involve the guy, whether he wants to or not! If the woman rocks up in a romantic ball gown and the man is in his Adidas tracksuit… there could be an issue! Coordination and colour are important. A green dress in front of a green mountain equals floating head… and a lot of post shoot editing!!! Yes, photoshop can be a lifesaver (especially when the weather doesn’t play ball). BUT, it is best to try to avoid a lot of editing time for your landscape portrait photographer and think about what you want to wear. This could mean a kilt or a tartan shawl if you are in the Highlands. A lot of ‘non-photographers’ don’t realise how much time is spent in post production work. It is not just a case of pressing the button on a camera, filling up a memory card and hey presto, the client has a portfolio of epic images to browse and choose from!? Remember, the landscape portrait photographer is not a magician and anyway to minimize the time sat on a laptop will always be appreciated.
THEME and DRESS work alongside LOCATION. Solid block colours will always be preferential and the right theme will depend on the landscape. This can be confusing to the uninitiated, but is something that can be discussed with your landscape portrait photographer during COMMUNICATION. Which leaves the one factor that cannot be controlled by your photographer, magician or indeed psychic!
The weather is the one variable that will cause most concern and indeed animation to your landscape portrait photographer. It is a crucial factor and you must appreciate that light is the most important element to capture something special. Be flexible and agreeable to the photographers suggestion of times of day and the Plan B if you want to achieve ‘epic’. With this in mind, the MOST IMPORTANT word that EVERY client should learn to say is..
Yes will always be the correct first response to the landscape portrait photographer. Yes, to getting up at sunrise. Yes, to walking down ‘that road’ flicking your hair for the 100th time. Yes, to the request to scramble up that ‘small hill’ in your ball dress …. YES, or for some enthusiasts… ‘Hell yeah!’ will be most appreciated, particularly whilst covered in midges and being eaten alive for ANOTHER FIVE MINUTES.
This folks, is the most important factor of all… if you want to achieve epic. Epic takes a positive attitude in often the most uncomfortable of situations. It could be freezing, you could be wearing next to nothing and standing on a slippery rock in front of a waterfall. But YES will give you a CHANCE for an image that will adorn your walls for years to come.
It will take effort, experience, laughs and emotion. But every time you look at that image you will smile, not just at the result… but at the story behind it.
Do you want to find out more to create your very own ‘Epic’ portrait in Scotland? Send me a message here! I’d love to hear from you.