There have been times when I’ve been approached with a portrait request that moves me. I received just such a request last week from a friend whose mother in law is 80-something and suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. She wanted me to capture her mother in law before she faded away completely so that her family would have something to look back on. This project excited me because this, to me, is what I strive towards with my work – providing an everlasting memory on paper that has meaning to the recipient. I like to akin myself to the artists of old who painted portraits of families so that they could hang on the walls of ancestry for generations to look back on, and wonder.
And so I went to the home of “Boots” (who I will call Miss Boots out of deference) and spent a few hours just sitting with her, capturing her in her home, in her favorite place by the window. And she was so happy, and so easy to work with, and I really think I captured not just who she is, but a little of who she used to be. I tried some interesting angles, using available light in combination with one studio light, pre-arranged backgrounds and the natural environment. My real wish was that I could have taken her outside, in a summer dress, to stand in a wheat field. But it’s winter here in Ohio. And outdoors is no suitable place for a lady of advanced years!
I loved this session. I loved her hands, and the fact that her nail polish was worn. the symbolism here is rampant. Using a combination of window light, creative light, and my 50 mm lens for minimal DOF) and the bare tree branches you can vaguely see in the background. This woman is in the winter of her life, yet she still glows with energy.
Do you see the bare tree branches in the background? More symbols. This woman is in the winter of her life, yet she still glows with energy.