For my project featuring migrants I decided to photograph Leonarda who has moved from Latvia to UK about 8 years ago because of the economic situation in her native country. I’ve chosen her as my subject because she shows a great example of adaptation to new environment. Her way to achieve that is surrounding herself with familiar objects and doing habitual daily routine. Leonarda grew up in a countryside in a low-income family, so she is used to do stocks and to make use of gifts of nature in unusual for most way. That reminds her childhood and adolescence and brings her comfort.
I started from photographing Leonarda while she was cutting tomatoes that she grew in her garden. Later, she demonstrated me a part of her stock including “bee bread” for health improving, dried linden blossom to use as cold medication (Leonarda loves the smell of dried grass and flowers, her family sometimes used it as a pillow filler when she was a child), vinegar made of her garden apples, other habitual products.
First I tried to work with ambient light only to see how it impacts an image. The main advantage was possibility to easily follow Leonarda as she was constantly moving around the kitchen and home. Disadvantages were low shutter speed and high ISO, difficulty to correct white balance because of yellow bulb light and blue light from the window.
Ambient light + flash bouncing of a wall:
Advantages were: highlighted subject, slightly lower ISO and higher shutter speed, easy to correct white balance, don’t depend on windows.
Disadvantages: each time you move, you need either to calculate new settings, adjust flash or the distance between flash, wall/ceiling and subject. That slightly slows the process. Always need neutral colour surface to bounce flash.
I didn’t try to use a light stand with an umbrella because Leonarda is in constant motion when she’s not sleeping or eating, always moving around the house doing her daily routine.
For the future photographs (within the project) I’m going to use a speedlight when need to make a subject stand out because the first part of a picture that attracts viewer’s eye is the brightest one. Thus I’ll direct the light towards main point of a photograph.
I’ve chosen this photograph below to work on because it has a number of messages.First of all the image empowers Leonarda, she looks proud and comfortable. By the look of the jar she’s holding you can tell it’s something homemade (in fact it’s an apple vinegar), it means that she may prefer to make or cook something rather than to buy it. By different size and colour of tomatoes it’s clear that she’s growing them herself and it leads to the conclusion that Leonarda cultivates a garden. There are jars, vegetables and bags with dried products all around the kitchen, so a viewer can understand that Leonarda makes stocks. But also there is a coffee machine there, so two more things become clear: she likes coffee and there is a sence of balance between her preference for handmade food and modern technologies. And of course flowers, Leonarda loves flowers as well as all of nature.
1 Vingetting to make the subject stand out even more:
Looks realistic and thus recognizable, fits the project because I want a viewer to be able to imagine himself or herself being there, in the kitchen, looking at Leonarda and her jar of apple vinegar.
Black & White (increased contrast) looks documentary, creates an impression of a seriousness. Increases emotional distance between a viewer and a subject.
Cross-processing (curves preset, 75% opacity) reminds old photographs, but colours look unrealistic, skin tone is too green.
Red-blue-yellow (colour lookup) also reminds me old photographs from our family albums, skin colour looks more natural comparing to previous example. I might use the effect if needed to create a sense of old colour film.
Low saturation, increased contrast: looks realistic, colours don’t stand out as much as before. Might do more tests.
Custom colour grading: Blue and orange colour dominate, looks unrealistic and thus unusable for the project. Would use the effect if need to exaggerate the struggle of opposites -ice and fire for example.
Colour grading explained: https://photoshoptrainingchannel.com/cinematic-color-grading/
About LUT files: https://members.psdbox.com/color-grading-lut-presets-for-photoshop/