As an artist, my job is to capture and create the most authentic version/vision of my subjects in fine art portraiture. There’s a lot of subtlety and nuance intermixed within moments in a session that often are hard to capture. It’s those moments that great photographers feed on.
Enter soprano extraordinaire Danielle Buoniauto.
When spending time with Italian beauty I got to really explore what it means to be raw. Danielle is very in tune with it means to be a raw soprano, vegtarian and feminist in her new home of New York. As we got more and more comfortable with one another we began to setup our shots in the studio, and as such my auto pilot got turned on. Danielle came in with very little makeup on and hair on the fizzy wild side. My auto pilot tells me, ok ask her to take a minute and freshen up. She declined. That was a first. I mentioned I had a little wax I could add to her hair to mask some of those fly away hair strips that seemed to be poofing out. She declined again. Another first for me. Which led to a most wonderful conversation.
She explained to me, “This is me. Light makeup, vest and ponytail with frizzy stragglers of hair that won’t go with the mold.” It got me thinking of what it means to come into the studio and be self assured as a subject. My thought process is to remove everything from the image/subject as to not distract from the client. It had never occurred to me that that just might be the client, frizzy hair and all. As a result we decided to take the shoot in a different direction, focusing on her hair and adding sight lines to draw you in.
One could say I’m a man of action. Some photographers have their models stand and deliver. I’m more of a conversationalist and in that conversation I like my models to have an action. Hair is always a good start. Let’s try this look, let’s try that look with your hair. Danielle, has two classic hairstyles, up and down. While working with that, the action of creating or loosening the pony tail is great because there is no show. A great way to start. Essentially, there’s no sexy way of putting your hair into a ponytail, or at least I’ve never seen it. It a raw moment. Authentic. Adding arms as sightless and hips akimbo for a little bit of modeling sass, draws your audience in without detracting from who the subject is.
Another challenge to this shoot was getting the lighting just right. As you’ve noticed in these images, Danielle is wearing glasses. Glasses are often a challenge in the studio because we use a beautiful Profoto 3.0′ RFi Octa Softbox as our main source of light. This softbox is also very reflective and is a perfect catch light in our clients eyes and, as luck would have it, glasses. This won’t do. We found ourselves spending quite a few minutes to get that lovely glare removed in the studio. However, models move and take pose and sometimes you’re left with a fantastic image and a little bit of softbox in the shot, as you’ll notice in the color photo of this post. It’s amazing the decisions we make as visual artists. Keep this in, take that out, does this add to the message, is that frizzy hair distracting from the over all essence? When working with Danielle I became more in tuned to what it means when we add or subtract those details.
For Danielle, we definitely captured her details without loosing sight of this impressive soprano really is.
Ok, that’s it for now. Wishing you and your friend and family a lovely Thanksgiving!