Walking along Lincoln high street I came across Marita, she was singing beautifully and what came across most was the warmth and emotion that shone through her music. As a photographer I was captivated by what I saw and had to stop, just to observe and listen for a while.
As she continued to play I saw in her a very photogenic young lady putting her heart into her songs. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to say hello and take a few images. I wanted to capture those special qualities that I saw in Marita. Of all the things I love to photograph, I think people are at the top of my list - you see the expression of emotion is almost infinite, the tiniest change of a smile or a twinkle in the eyes can markedly change the way you connect to an image.
For the photographers amongst you I was using the Fuji X-T2 with the 56mm F1.2 APD lens. This is a crop sensor, mirrorless camera and rather than go through the specifications I think it's better to let the images do the talking. For me the X-T2 is a photographer's dream, it's light with ergonomics that are perfect for those who wish to spend less time looking down at a menu system and more time shooting. The button interface is completely reprogrammable and I have assigned all the essential functions I need to the buttons on the rear, top, and front of the camera. I haven't had the Fuji for very long but I already know exactly where everything is and that speaks volumes to me as a person who needs to 'play' the camera as instinctively as Marita plays her guitar.
Marita is not just an amazing singer but she writes her own music. I'm sure she'll correct me if I'm wrong but she sang a song of hers called 'Butterfly'.
Let your imagination wander for a moment and picture that beautiful little creature skipping through the warm breeze from flower to flower, imagine the warmth of the summer sun on your face and now imagine the whole essence of what is in your mind captured wonderfully by Marita's music and lyrics - she took me to that place.
Marita was stood in the shade of a department store, which meant I was mainly using the 56mm lens anywhere between F1.2 and F2.8 with an ISO between 200 and 800 (depending on the sun going behind the clouds). I wanted to see the quality of the lens 'wide open' as inferior optics will not perform well and have to be stopped down (perhaps reducing the aperture to something like F4). This is not the case with this particular glass, it can be used wide open without worrying about the image quality.
Occasionally Marita stopped to chat briefly to someone she knew, or to receive a compliment from a passing member of the public. It was in these moments that she truly relaxed and her personality shone through. I think she has such a lovely photogenic face and the black and white images (using the Fuji ACROS Filter in Lightroom - from RAW) look wonderful. I wanted to capture her on an emotional level - and I think I managed to do that very thing.
Of course not all of my images were converted to the ACROS black and white. I also liked one or two to be left in colour, the image above is with the Fuji CLASSIC CHROME filter applied. I think the filters give a really special look and I'm delighted that Fuji have them embedded in the Adobe Lightroom editing software.
Marita was close up against a department store window which meant the background was very 'busy'. However, by using the 56mm lens wide open I have achieved sufficient background blur (bokeh) to separate her from the surroundings.
I took images from her left and right. The microphone and lots of other equipment was in the way but I did my best to either isolate the scene as best I could or crop out the bags, cases and paraphernalia that would have otherwise been in the image. Getting the composition as good as you can at the time saves a lot of wasted effort in post processing once you get home.
The flatter light that was in the shade of the store worked out well in the end. I slightly underexposed some of my shots as the highlights in the store window were very strong. By using a mirrorless system I could see the effect of exposure in real-time through the electronic view finder. Having a 'WYSIWYG' mirrorless system is invaluable.
I have tried to capture different aspects of Marita as she sang and hopefully this way I have managed to fully encapsulate what I saw on the day.
I very much hope that Marita is pleased with these images, they will of course mean different things to different people, as everyone will have a unique way of interpreting them. We all have different tastes and photography by its nature is very subjective.
At the end of the day this was an impromptu shoot. I just happened to have my camera with me as I walked by on my way to shoot wide angle shots with my 16mm F1.4. I never reached my destination, I found myself instead capturing these images to share on my blog.
Ultimately this is why I'm turning pro from 2018 onwards (I'm already accepting bookings for next year). You see, I love to do this, it's a tremendous challenge that brings me great pleasure and the gratification I get from seeing a wonderful image can't be overstated.
Marita was a charming and relaxed young lady enjoying doing something she did with aplomb. I just happened to be passing by. Our chance meeting meant I could capture these images of a talented young singer.
Marita - Please feel free to copy and use these images as you wish. It was a pleasure to meet you and to listen to your music.