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Every time I pull up to a portrait assignment, I start to look around and make mental notes of locations where I could pose the subject.
Generally speaking, the location needs to meet a few basic criteria (though there are always exceptions and never absolutes). It needs to have a clean, uncluttered background. It needs to be either well lit or at least lit in a way that allows me to use my creativity and a few flashes to make it well lit. And, if possible, it will be a location that allows me to shoot pictures really tight and really loose, so I have a variety of images to choose from.
The more usable locations I find while walking to meet my subject, the less nervous I feel about the shoot. But oftentimes, I find myself standing right outside someone’s office without a suitable location in mind. This is typically the part of my day where I pray for something to grab my attention visually inside their office.
But alas, that hardly ever works out. One thing I’ve learned on this job is that most people’s offices aren’t that interesting to photograph. There’s usually a desk, a computer, some books, a nameplate perhaps on the desk and somewhat contextual art on the walls.
Tuesday was a perfect example of this. When I finally arrived at Bob Montgomery’s office door in City Heights, I had nothing — not even a solid backup location to drag him out to.
We chatted for a moment and, luckily, I noticed how soft the light was coming through a small window in his office. It was my saving grace.
I had a small amount of room to work, but all I needed was for that light to hit Montgomery’s face. For the Q&A with Montgomery, which will run later today, I selected a tighter shot of him. But I loved the way the light worked in this room. It just goes to show how photography doesn’t have to be complicated. This image was made with no flashes, no softboxes, and no special equipment beyond one of the nice cameras I use on a daily basis. Just one light and one subject.
— SAM HODGSON