Portraits, lockdowns and the people I missed

Like everyone else, the lockdowns during the ongoing pandemic left me alone to my thoughts and in that time, a few things dawned on me. 

As someone who primarily photographs weddings, I realised that the subject I was missing most, was people, not weddings (and after all, it is people that make weddings interesting in my opinion).  The other thing that I was missing more than anything else, was my family and friends.

Which then got me thinking, over the last 10 years, I’ve spent so much time taking on assignments for work, I realised that I had very few photos of the people in me life that meant most to me.

While I had a few snaps of my friends here and there, I didn’t have many proper and traditional portraits of them.

So I made a small promise to myself, that once life started resembling something close to normality, I would take as many traditional portraits of my friends and family, whenever I could and whenever the opportunity would present itself.

Nikon f50 | 50mm f1.8 lens | Kodak Portra 800
Minolta Hi-Matic 7 | Kentmere 400

Now, for me at least, these portraits should be a little more than just standard headshots with a plain background. Naturally, the lighting is a different, with a single light set-up (the old and reliable Rembrandt lighting) and for these shots, I’m planning on using similar canvas backdrops.

Additionally, the post-production treatment is a little softer too.  Essentially, I want these to have a timeless quality to them.  The sort of portrait you would want to print and hang on your wall.

I guess I don’t want them to feel to formal either.  I don’t want them to look like a LinkedIn headshot – they need to have a little character to them.  I feel that a true portrait needs to give you an idea as to what the subject’s personality is like.

If I can achieve all that with this project, then I’ll be a happy man.  I feel that as a photographer, I should have decent portraits of my friends and family, and it’s kind of appalling that I don’t. It amazes me that it took a couple of lockdowns for me to realise this, but going forward, that is an ongoing goal for me.

I’ve since set up a new Instagram account where you can keep track of this little project, @cdmillerportraits, along with a project page on this website where I’ll be posting more images soon.

Ilford FP4+ | Nikon Fm2n | 28mm f2.0 lens
Ilford FP4+ | Nikon Fm2n | 28mm f2.0 lens