This roll of film was the result of an impromptu photo shoot with my girlfriend’s newly born niece. I shot some digital images and this one roll of HP5 400 pushed two stops on my Mamiya 7II.
I’m not really used to shooting people in framed/posed settings, so the shots that I took that were more posed didn’t really come out very well. They have a certain stiffness to them…it’s possible I’m just projecting the discomfort I felt at the time of clicking the shutter onto the images themselves, but I don’t think this is the case. The images that I shot in a more documentary fashion (the only time I really shoot people is on the streets, so this documentary approach is where I’m more at home) came out much better in my opinion.
I shot the second image with this documentary mindset in mind, and it’s by far my favorite from the roll. Part of what I love about the documentary style of portraiture/shooting people is that the potential for a great story being illuminated by the image is so much greater. It’s easier to get a decent snapshot when you’re posing your subject(s), but it’s harder to get a great shot that tells a story. With documentary-style shots, it’s the opposite.
This image wasn’t completely spontaneous – if I’m remembering correctly, I asked Christina to make some slight tweaks in how she was holding her niece – but it was close. And that allowed for an authenticity to shine through. You get a feel of the loving family that’s supporting this new member to our world. You feel their presence even though none of their faces are actually visible in the frame. You see the parents in the background…taking a brief and well-deserved break, but still looking over their shoulders and their child, unable to completely disconnect from their child even for just a moment. You feel the love.