A friend of my wife, Rachel, kindly volunteered to be the subject for this assignment, despite not being fond of being photographed. I arranged to visit her at her house to talk about the project and discuss potential locations for the shoot.
It was important to provide a good explanation of what I was looking to do during the project – working with a volunteer, who is not used to, or fond of being photographed was inevitably creating a little apprehension.
I took along Jane Bown’s book, Faces (see here) to explain and illustrate that I was hoping to catch something of Rachel’s personality rather than a staged look, which she perhaps would have expected through experience with family portraits. I think the sharing worked well – the visual is better explained through the visual than with words.
We discussed things that Rachel enjoyed or were important to her to decide upon potential locations. In the end we decided upon the themes of cooking (Rachel has what seems to be a library of cook books!) and walking (with her dog, Diesel). During the discussion, Rachel several time kindly volunteer that it was up to me what we photographed, but I deliberately avoided this direction as I felt it would lead to more of a staged feel. There would be two separate shoots – one outdoors, during a dog walk through a local scenic area; and the other around her house (which has large windows and a conservatory as sources of natural light) with a cooking theme or association. I also would take a flash and shoot-through umbrella along to the indoor shoot for studio-like control. Beyond this general direction, no specific details were fixed for the shots.