Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Photographer's Wife

Thanks for all the advice and good thoughts. They seem to have worked as I feel markedly improved. Well, that and the sick day I took yesterday, which allowed me to have a glorious and restful four-hour long nap. Ah, the luxury of it. (I remember throwing fits when I was a kid and had to take a nap. Now, naps are highly prized commodities.)

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On more than one occasion, people have asked me what it's like being a photographer's wife, if I ever get sick of him wanting to take my picture. The question has always made me laugh. "Peter's a landscape photographer," I'd say, "He's more likely to ask me to get out of the way than to ask to take my picture."

That was just fine with me, since I'm not really the most co-operative subject. I've too many body image issues to ever feel comfortable having my picture taken. I rarely like photographs of me, as all I can ever see are the things I don't like.

It looks like I'm going to have to come up with a different answer to the question. On Friday, Peter bought a starter studio set-up: lights, a big stand on which to hang backing paper, and those funny little umbrellas that bounce the light around. After he had his studio arranged in the garage, it wasn't long before he was asking to take my picture.

The first round of photographs were nothing to write home about, since Peter was just learning to use the lights and I was disheveled from a nap. (A few of them are funny and might find their way here, eventually.) I told Peter it was weird to be his model and if he ever told me "to work it," I would be forced to leave.

I went back into the house and sat at the kitchen table, finishing up my work-from-home day. It was dusk and the light was waning. Periodically, I could see a flash of light shoot from the garage windows. It was like watching a mad scientist's laboratory. I half-expected to hear an explosion or see green smoke.

Peter's spent a lot of his free time either working in the studio or researching studio photography. Yesterday, Peter told me he wanted to try something and could he take my picture. I was again nap-disheveled (you're going to think that's all I do in the afternoon but it's been an unusual few days), but I took a few minutes to run a brush through my hair and change my shirt.

We started with me right in front of the backing paper. Peter set up his camera, fiddled with the lights, and then took a few pictures. He gave me a few directions and I tried to take it as seriously as possible, but there was just something absurd about the whole process. Then he backed his camera up and had me take a few steps forward. Then he moved the lights as well. After more pictures, he again moved back and had me move forward. We repeated this ritual until Peter was at the front of the garage and I told him he was going to open the garage door if he wanted to reverse any further.

Turns out, he had me right where he wanted me. He was trying to take a low-key photograph. Seems the further you move the subject from the background, the darker the background gets, which makes for an interesting looking portrait.

I'm going to have to get used to having my picture taken, which isn't a bad thing. When the time comes to have the photograph taken for the back of my book, I'll both know a good photographer and know how to be a good subject.


At 12 March 2008 at 08:38, Blogger Babaloo said...

This is a good portrait, though. And I so know what you mean about not liking to be photographed. But maybe it's because so far no professional photographer has tried it, so all photos of me are pretty crap. Or maybe it IS me being over-critical. At least that's what Felix would say.
Glad you're feeling better!

At 12 March 2008 at 11:17, Blogger laurie said...

dramatic and beautiful.

a very nice photo.

but i prefer the ones of you outside on the rocky beach in welies and with toby. maybe because ... oh you know why.

some day i'll tell you the story about how my eight siblings and i tried to have a studio photographer take a portrait of us as a surprise present for our parents' 50th anniversary. ooooh golly. wish we'd had peter.

At 12 March 2008 at 11:17, Blogger laurie said...

ps. some day will you take word verification off your blog???

i dont have it and i virtually NEVER get spam. (and when i do, i just delete it. it's no trouble.)

it takes me two or three times to type these crazy letters in correctly. grrrrrr

At 12 March 2008 at 14:07, Blogger Kaycie said...

That's a beautiful photo. Peter is talented and he's lucky to have a lovely subject.

At 12 March 2008 at 16:09, Blogger Robyn Jones said...

I like it...but I don't blame you for not wanting to have your picture taken. I HATE having mine done...and they are barely ever good...

At 13 March 2008 at 00:47, Blogger Sweet Irene said...

Hey, that's a wonderful picture of you.

Good for you for being patient with Peter and going along with the program. I also don't like having my picture taken because I never look as nice as I do in real life and Eduard is definitely not a portrait photographer.

At 13 March 2008 at 01:59, Blogger Jan said...

What a beautiful photo of you. Give Peter an extra kiss.

At 13 March 2008 at 02:19, Blogger Sandy said...

Beautiful portrait!

At 13 March 2008 at 12:53, Blogger Aoj & The Lurchers said...

That's s superb photo!

I hate having my photograph taken, simply because I am not in the least photogenic. The last lot someone took of me had me seriously considering a nose-job.

At 13 March 2008 at 17:39, Blogger -Ann said...

Babaloo - I think all of us mere mortals are overly critical of our photos. :)

Laurie - Um, because Toby increases the cuteness of any photo by 1000%? Can't wait to hear your family portrait story. (And thanks for telling me about word verification - I thought I turned it off when I enabled anonymous commenting. After all, I never had to see it. :))

Kaycie - Stop, we're both blushing. :)

RJ - It's a common dislike, it seems, to have one's picture taken.

SI - Thanks. Part of it too is taking a lot of photos and then just picking out the one you like. If you take 40 or 50, you're bound to have 1 good one. I love digital photography!

Jan - Will do.

Sandy - Thanks. :)

AOJ - One thing I'm learning from evesdropping on Peter's tutorials and reading over his shoulder, photographers have ways to make people look better. (And I'm not talking about photoshop - I'm talking about lighting and positioning.)

At 13 March 2008 at 23:19, Anonymous Harlequin said...

I've seen some lovely pictures of me, where I look like myself but mostly I seem to get caught with three chins, my eyes closed and my face all red. It's not so bad if you know it's being taken I suppose. I know I'm prettier than most photos show me to be (if you ignore the chins and don't show the seventeen spare tyres) but it's hard to maintain any kind of self-esteem when photos show all your worst features in fully-lit glory.


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