Negotiating Access: Portrait of Someone You Know

Alongside our other task of photographing a stranger we also had to take a portrait of someone we knew. Although I had taken pictures of my family I wanted to challenge myself with this task. I was commissioned by a family friend to photograph her daughter’s christening. While I knew the family friend well and her daughter, I had not met her close and extended family. I wanted to capture the natural and happy moments of the day as well as provide her with more formal images of the godparents and close family members with her daughter. This was only the second time I have photographed a big event like this and having very little experience with directing and photographing these kind of events I felt very out of my comfort zone.

Although I was photographing someone I knew I was also surrounded by unfamiliar people and I had the added pressure of producing images which would mark an important time in her daughters life. During the ceremony I found it difficult to get the shots I wanted as the pews were full of her family and friends and I did not want to draw attention to myself and disturb the ceremony by trying to take a close up picture. I was using a wide aperture lens as I knew it would be low light in the church however this did not give me the zoom I needed and often my images turned out grainy.

In addition to this, during the part of the ceremony where they baptise the baby at the font I found it difficult to get a key shot. Although I was very close to the family and the font, children kept jumping in front of my camera and running around me. I did find this frustrating that I could not get the shots I intended due to this situation. However in the future I will try to improve on this and be more confident in telling people before the ceremony that I need to stand in a specific position to get the shots I need.

Overall this experience did challenge me greatly and I believe it will give me more confidence to photograph events and take more portraits in the future. The most challenging aspect of the day was working with a very large group of people I was unfamiliar with and trying to work with the ceremony as well as get the shots I needed.


Published by

Charlotte Pattinson

Photography student

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