I do believe a portrait can bring a real power to life in moments of shared attention when me and my subject — a connection with one another via eye contact. Besides, everything from beautiful lighting, graphic details, a surprising element — or a sense of vulnerability – can make a photograph interesting and stand out from the rest.
Because I’m doing a lot of environmental portraits, I also think communication is one important element – to communicate something about what it is like living in a particular location. It can also capture memories, and symbolize messages and emotions and become a tone in the visual language.
Among the portraits shown here, for example: Member of European Parliament Anna Maria Corazza Bildt (upper right), Jörmundur Ingi Hansen, representative for the Icelandic Norse paganism community (middle right), the Faroese artist Arnold Vegghamar (small left) and the Faroese fishing vessel owner Eyðun Rasmussen (small middle).
When I shot FOIB’s director Jan Müller with the afternoon light with the Faroese capital Torshavn in the background, I was lucky to embrace the vibrant ambient light using my portable Lastolite Studio light kit (large left).
One thing I have learned is that is that everything takes time, even in the shooting process. Aperture, shutter speed and ISO are the tangible elements that I have at my disposal and that are driven by the science of light.
Most of the time I’m in aperture priority mode because I’d rather be certain of my f-stop and the depth of field that I’m getting than knowing the exact shutter speed. In my experience slower shutter speed frequently brings the image to life more than pictures taken with action-freeze and fast shutter speed.
When I’m doing portraits with my Carl Zeiss 85 mm lens (1.4) I play around with high aperture to highlight the person’s character and to get blurred backgrounds. The result is many times outstanding and the manual focus gives me consistent and beautiful colors, clarity and sharpness. If I want shorter depth of field and to isolate my subject even more, I take my Nikon 105 mm AF Micro, so far with excellent results regardless of weather it’s portraits or product photography.
Another important detail in my work is composition. Some rules are good ones, like the rule of thirds. But like all rules, you have to break it every once in a while. The wireless flash system I use enforces the composition, for example creating interesting shadow effects or just to improve or simulate available light.
When I’m triggering my SU-800 unit, I can shoot the very directional and linear triggering impulse to my SB-900 flash units, which can be placed beside and/or behind the subject to lighten up different parts or details — or even outside a window, if needed.