Here is my friend, Jake. He's usually behind the camera, as he’s highly skilled in areas such as photography and also, he’s a little bit shy. With a First-Class Honours in Film Studies, he's my go to tech guy and my creative companion. If I didn't spend time around him doing creative projects, I'm sure I'd have very limited knowledge in photography, videography and editing.
A few months ago, when I was feeling low, I called upon my friend who was in a similar low period and asked if he wanted a photography adventure. It was something to get us out of both out of the house and doing an activity we love.
One of my hobbies for several years now has been running. I'm very familiar with my local area because of the different routes I explore frequently and on one of my running trails there is amazing graffiti art featured on a few of the walls I run past. I figured that this would be a great opportunity to capture this art and also maybe a new profile picture against and amazing background. Jake and I ventured down to the spot and we took many pictures of the various graffiti walls and I did a lot of posing and playing around.
In between some of the graffiti walls, there was one covered in vines and shrubbery, I thought maybe it’d be a good idea to take a picture surrounded by nature to contrast the urban shots. Initially, I was modelling, however, due to my choice is costume, the images felt lacklustre. Therefore, I decided to ask Jake to do some modelling for me as he was wearing colours that complemented the background more and I wanted to exercise my photography skills. With three cameras at hand – an old Fujifilm digital camera, a Panasonic vlogging camera and my iPhone 6 camera – I took up the challenge. When I got out the Fujifilm, it’d ran out of battery and I had no spares at hand, so I looked to the Panasonic, however, the colour grading was not adequate enough for capturing the rich colours presented before me. This left my trusted iPhone 6, about six or generations older than the latest iPhone, so definitely not the latest tech, however, still very clear resolution which was all the base I’d need for a good edit.
Now getting this particular shot consisted of a lot of trialing, not necessarily because of error, but because I hadn’t quite captured what I was looking for. My dear friend stood in front of this beautiful arch created by the vines, doing every pose I was instructing him to do. It wasn’t something he did often, but he did it well. Throughout this process, we were just talking as friends do; talking about how we’d reached slumps in our lives and how we just wanted opportunities that could take us to new places. The more we spoke, the better sense I had of the shot I was looking for. Initially I was taking full body shots, trying to capture him surrounding by nature as he stood in a power stance.
However, I felt that it would be best to show his face in great detail; I wanted anyone who glimpsed this photograph to see his kind eyes, his endearing smile and his wild curls. I opted for a close-up shot so the viewers could see all the great qualities in my friend, especially how even in his lowest moments he was able to smile and keep persevering in life.
The approach I took in order to capture the image was simple, I told him to think about a moment that made him happy and to try not to laugh as I was pointing my phone super close to his face. I gave him a few seconds to think, then once his facial expressions began to change, I took my opportunity and took the shot.
It was a good one, but I knew in order to capture the right sentiment then I had to edit it.
When it came to the edit, I was torn. On one hand I wanted to keep the rich colours in his clothing and the background of leaves, but I also wanted the focus to be his features.
I played around with enhancing the colours and seeing if his features still stood out.
In a sense they did, but I was drawn more to the leaves and his clothing because of how rich the colours were. It was then I realised that I had to make a sacrifice if my goal was to capture the essence of my friend over everything. As brilliant as the colours were, I decided that I needed the image to be in black and white.
First, I altered the lighting of the image as the standard was way too bright and dreamlike, so I reduced the brightness and exposure in order to give the image a more defined, sharp and real look.
Then I used the existing edits available and opted for the Mono filter as it allowed greater focus on Jake's features, plus I liked how it gave the image a more dramatic look.
On top of that, I decided to increase the contrast so that my image showcase the standout features of my subject very clearly. I felt that this edit allowed the hair, the eyes, the lips and the beard of my subject to make a greater statement. After that there wasn’t much tinkering with the image, it was complete.
So, that's the story. This is my friend Jake showing us the joy he has within, even when he isn't in the best of places. He is a kind, sensitive soul with so much to offer. I don't usually put this much thought into the edits I make to the photos I take. Usually, I leave them as is or throw an Instagram filter on top of them, but with this special moment, I had to take time and care in order to present one of the best people I know in a way that did him justice.