WASHINGTON DC PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY: PORTRAIT OF A CORRESPONDENT
Gunnar was in panic mode.
He had just received the word from his editor. An article he had recently authored was going to be featured by Der Spiegel. He was told by his bosses in Berlin that they needed a current professional portrait and a headshot… and they needed them fast. As a Senior US Correspondent for Der Spiegel, he was accustomed to having his articles published, but always with a text by-line, not a portrait or a headshot. It had been years since he had a professional portrait or headshot done. He was scrambling to find a photographer who could create the type of environmental portrait that matched the look he wanted. He had searched dozens of Washington, DC portrait photographer’s sites and found nothing that inspired him to hire them. He was frustrated.
Then he found my site.
I was traveling when his email landed in my IN box. I looked ahead to the first opening on my schedule, called Gunnar, offered him the date and he booked me. The relief in his voice was palpable. His job was done. Mine was just beginning. Gunnar wanted an environmental portrait that had a ‘natural’ look. No cliche shots of him sitting on the steps of the Capitol or straddling the center line of Constitution Avenue at 5AM. No shots that would scream ‘correspondent in Washington DC’. Gunnar wanted something entirely different.
I knew just the place.
We met at a small park in the Virginia countryside, about an hour out of downtown Washington. I don’t shoot there often, but when I do, I remember just why I like doing outdoor portrait sessions there. Tall mature trees create large areas of wonderful open shade, next to sun drenched fields, bordered by wooden fences and low stone walls. A working grist mill and restored historical buildings strung around the site offer great options for settings and backdrops. Add in a lily pond, walking paths and a restored hand-built tool shed, backing up to a giant wood pile of freshly split oak, and the option list for portrait shots grows. Early on a weekday morning, the park feels like it’s our own outdoor studio. We are virtually alone.
Gunnar is nervous.Very nervous.
I solve that issue quickly, by getting right into the session. No time to worry or over-think how you look or how to pose, clothes choices or whatever. We get right into it. It works. Within 5 minutes, Gunnar is comfortable with me, with himself and with the session. We are rolling. We move around the site, working the settings and creating a series of portraits and headshots of Gunnar. A little over an hour later, we are finished.