Helen lives in an assisted living retirement community where she is well taken care of. Her son Doug called me to book a session in celebration of her 100th birthday. What an honour to make this portrait for her and her family. Her son’s original idea was to take his mother out for the afternoon, so I could photograph her in the park or in front of their original family home, which is now occupied by new owners. He also mentioned that she tires easily and that her eyes are very sensitive to bright light and camera flash.
Sometimes my clients come to me with well intentioned ideas about how a photo shoot should happen, and the plan often involves a scenic outdoor location like a park, garden or waterfall. In most cases I find that keeping it simple is better because a portrait is about the person, not the background. Keeping my subjects as comfortable as possible in every case makes for a great shoot, and images that reflect their true characters. In Helen’s case, as I explained to her son Doug, this is of particular concern because she is fragile. Instead of taking our session outdoors or setting up studio lighting, I came to her home with only my camera and a selection of lenses. I knew the best thing I could do was to keep her as comfortable as possible, and to use nothing but the existing light and my own creative eye. These three photos were taken in the dining room as Helen was relaxing with friends after lunch. The light was great and I was able to capture some candid expressions. Afterwards, we headed up to Helen’s apartment, where we placed Helen in a comfortable chair by the window in her bedroom. The single image below is portrait that came of it. Thank you, Doug and Helen for a wonderful experience.