Originally photographed for the surfing magazine White
Horses and a series of articles called ‘A Few Of My Favourite Things’ (an idea, incidentally, we’ve now adopted in sister publication ProPhoto), Pam Burridge – who was the first woman in Australia to become a full-time professional surfer – is pictured with a collection of her favourite possessions, including an old caravan, a ladder, several surfboards, a crocheted rug (modelled by her husband, Mark), one of her hens, and the vintage dress she’s wearing.
After a long career as a corporate and advertising photographer, Bruce Usher now works as a freelancer primarily concentrating on editorial assignments for a wide variety of magazines
as well as shooting for annual reports and brochures. He is also a regular contributor to our sister publication for working photographers, ProPhoto, profiling the life and work of other professional photographers. Nikon D700 D-SLR fitted with a 50mm f1.4 lens. This picture was taken at f9.0 with a shutter speed of 1/200 second and the sensitivity set to ISO 250. The available light was supplemented by a studio flash Monobloc fitted with a reflector brolly.
There are a lot of elements in this picture so a fair amount of organisation was needed beforehand, especially in terms of arranging everything to create a cohesive and balanced composition.
“I photographed Pam late in the afternoon,” Bruce says. “It was virtually on dusk, but having the caravan as a set background was magic and it pulled everything together both physically and colour wise”.
Just to add to the challenge, Bruce decided to add an element of movement, getting Pam to execute a jump and release the hen at the same time.
How It Was Done
“Pam has just launched herself off a mini trampoline,” explains Bruce. “It’s positioned just out of the frame and that’s Patty Bouvier (named after Patty and Selma from the Simpson’s), her new Isa Brown chook, up there flying next to her. I only took around ten frames as it was hard work for both Pam and Patty Bouvier. We tried a few versions of Pam coming off the mini tramp until we settled on the ‘straight-to-camera’ jump. I also did a few ‘insurance’ images with no jumping, and Pam just standing.
“It took Pam and I about 40 minutes to style the photograph, and another 20 minutes to tweak the lighting and adjust the positioning of the mini tramp.”
Tricks Of The Trade
With any photo assignment that involves photographing people, good communication is the key to a successful. Here Bruce and Pam worked together on what the final image should look like, so she fully understood what she had to do. In most situations, there will only be one or two opportunities to ‘nail’ a busy shot like this before any spontaneity is lost and the subject starts to tire. Bruce’s recommendation is to keep it relaxed… and fun.
Degree Of Difficulty (Out of 10)
This would have been a challenging image to pull off even before adding movement and an unpredictable hen… easily a ‘10’.
Can You Try This At Home?
Many amateur photographers feel apprehensive about photographing people, but it can be hugely rewarding, not to mention enjoyable, especially if you yourself a few challenges. A project such as ‘favourite things’ involves the subject too, making it more of a collaborative exercise while also telling a much more interesting story about that person. Why not start with family or friends? You might be surprised what you’ll learn, and you’ll end up with some great photographs too.
Photograph by Bruce Usher, copyright 2019.