Project:52, artist portraits (week 1)

One of my photography goals this year is to attempt a 52 project.  This is similar to a 365 project, which challenges photographers to take and post one photo every day for a year.  With a 52 project, you’ve got a bit more wiggle room – only one photo posted per week, but instead of complete creative freedom, the idea is to follow an assignment or capture a specific topic each week.  My original inspiration came from this site:, although I’ve seen several photographers since then with similar ideas.

While there is a great community developing around several of these websites, I’m a bit too shy to dive in to weekly critiques right now.  Well, shy … and busy.  Not sure I have the time in my schedule to properly participate in a large discourse with life as it is these days.  Luckily, I happen to have a wonderful friend who has agreed to do a mini-version of this project with me.  Erin is my business partner at Dragon-Fly Photography Studio and one of my best friends.  We originally met at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design when we were both studying photography, and we’ve been finding ways to do joint projects ever since.  Between the two of us, I’m sure we can keep each other motivated, inspired and on task.

We decided for our first assignment to try some artist portraits.  Both Erin and I are in a position where we are trying to build our personal brand as photographers, and an important part of that is having a nice portrait to display with the artist bio and on all the various social media sites.  What better way to start off our challenge?

I also think it’s a great idea for photographers to spend some time, every once in a while, in front of the camera.  It’s a great chance, particularly for portrait photographers, to get a real feel for how our subjects feel during a portrait session.  I’m always a little bit self-conscious when attention (or a lens!) is focused on me, so spending time in front of the camera reminds me to make sure I’m extra encouraging, open and engaging when I’m photographing others.

Of the series of portraits I shot of Erin, this is easily my favourite.  And it wasn’t even meant to be a ‘keeper’.  I was just testing the lighting in the scene and experimenting with composition.  But for some reason, I’m drawn to it.  Not only do I love the framing  and the perfect separation between the subject and the background (note how the light creates a subtle glow around her hair and shoulder), but I think I really see Erin, as an artist and photographer, in this picture.  I’ve always loved candid portraiture, both for the shy factor (you don’t have to direct or manage people, and your goal is to be as unobtrusive and invisible as possible) and for the honesty of the expressions and moments you are able to capture.  Erin can be a really quiet person around those she doesn’t know and she, like most photographers I know (including me!), isn’t a huge fan of getting her portrait taken.  So a standard “face the camera and smile” pose just didn’t seem right to express her personality.  Capturing a moment of reflection is much more honest.  Erin’s artwork is often quiet and introspective too, so this image fits quite nicely with the way I see my friend.

Next week’s challenge?  Night photography!
Looking forward to hanging out on top of a parking structure to see what unique twilight shots we can get of our little city.