You've got 10 minutes
"You've got ten minutes" is a phrase all photographers love to hear when about to shoot a portrait. "Ten minutes! I only need seven" I like to cleverly reply (in my head). Not being given much time with people in the public eye is pretty standard fare and it's something you quickly get used to and plan for. On this shoot with Dawn French I had already arranged the three set-ups I had in mind before being introduced to Dawn. I had tried all the shots out on an assistant and knew exactly how and where the lights needed to be positioned to get what I needed within the small time frame.
Carol Midgley was writing the piece to accompany the photographs and Carol mentioned that the interview was likely to be serious rather than fun as this was a couple of weeks after Dawn French had split from her husband Lenny Henry. The images needed to match the content so I concentrated on capturing contemplative expressions. Dawn seemed pretty relaxed and playful which meant she didn't need much prompting or directing, my favourite type of subject.__________
The lighting on these portraits was designed to be constant between set-ups which means I used the same lighting on each different shot. Mainly this was done because in ten minutes it's not that easy to change the lights up. I knew I would be shooting against plain and flat backgrounds. I wanted the lights to give the subject a bit of depth and separate her from the background. I used a Westcott octobank about 4 feet away from Dawn up and camera left as the key light. A ring flash on camera as the fill and a softbox left and behind Dawn as a rim light. This lighting set up gave me the 3d contrasty look to offset the flat background.
The paper went for one of the upright images, which incidentally is probably the largest single image published work I've ever had. The picture was about 12 inches in length!