Photographing portraits with a personal connection
Of all the portraits I’ve taken over the years, this photo is one of those that I am most proud of – my friend Petra Herrmann. This photograph shows her strength as well as vulnerability.
I’d mention her sense of humor, and her warmth and kindness .. but she’d just tell me to fuck off. So there’s that. But it’s true. She’s a remarkable person and friend … and I am glad she’s going to be around much, much longer.
Petra is a well-known boudoir photographer in Kansas City. Somewhere late in 2014, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Even though Petra is still going through the second round of chemo, the good news is that it looks like she is bouncing back from it, with the prognosis very good.
This photo was taken in March 2015, while at a photography convention in Las Vegas. Catching up during a long afternoon of conversation and laughter, I asked if I could take photographs of her. I felt it was important that we capture this. This time in her life. I loved the series of photos then, and even more so now. There is a quietness and strength there – and as much as friends can rally, this is a solitary battle.
Perhaps with portraits where there is connection and intimacy, it becomes this transaction between the photographer and subject – a deeper, unspoken conversation taking place during the taking of the photographs. And it has more to do with your subject giving you those more revealing moments, than it has to do with your technical skills as a photographer. Then the existing friendship and trust can fortunately take precedence – and with a little bit of help with the photographer’s personality to elicit some response – create an evocative portrait. In other words, the success of this photo has much more to do with Petra ‘giving’ me this photograph, than me taking it.
Guest posts by Petra
- Boudoir Photography tutorial: five top-selling images & quick posing tips
- Details and sequences – increase your sales in boudoir photo sessions
- Increase your sales in boudoir photo sessions
- Boudoir photography and the 50mm lens
1/320 @ f/1.6 @ 1600 ISO …. available light
This was shot with the Nikon D810 and the Nikon 85mm f/1.4 …. and you know how much I love the 85mm lens. It is perfect for this kind of personal portrait where the bulkier 70-200mm f/2.8 would’ve been too intrusive.