Life by Selena Photography

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This is a Life by Selena Photography blog featuring recent photographic and video projects by Montreal photographer Selena Phillips-Boyle. This blog is my new initiative aimed at sharing a wider selection of photos: the spontaneous fits of laughter, the up-dos and the flowers, and your grandma dancing all the young folks off the dance-floor. I’ll be showcasing new projects on Mondays and throw-backs on Thursdays, with a potpourri of smaller projects dusted in between.

18 : Andrew and Judy

I raise my camera to my face and compose the shot, my finger poised on the shutter. I pause. That’s not what I had envisioned. I recompose and press the shutter. That’s the one I was looking for. Phase one complete.

I make the usual photo edits: tweak the brightness, bump the contrast, adjust the crop. Wait a moment, that’s not the crop I wanted. I re-enter the crop mode and adjust it again. Phase two complete.

I’ve been taking photos for a decade now, long enough to develop a strong eye for composition, framing, and lines in an image. Just like the natural ease and intuition that I developed driving my old manual Volkswagen, composing a photo and framing a subject with my usual style has become reflexive. During this couples session I challenged myself to execute different compositions, wherein my subjects were placed as objects in the midst of grander landscapes, and empty space framed the subjects.

Photography, much like language, is a living organism that is constantly evolving. Just as the features of a particular dialect can pin an accent to a particular epoch or location, the stylistic features of a portrait can anchor an image. To remain fresh and relevant, it’s important to utilize new styles of portraiture so that new photos don’t seem anchored in the past. Excelling at a craft, whether artistic or intellectual, requires more than the execution of the skill and keeping your head down within the little world of ingenuity that you are creating. This fall I’ve been taking the time to look around and see what’s out there by selecting quality artists that inspire me, and critically thinking about what it is that they are doing that I admire. This process is putting more tools in my toolkit and expanding my ability to see different compositional styles so that when I go out on a shoot, I can creatively blend my current style with work I admire.

Walking with Judy and Andrew through Edmonton’s Old Strathcona, I looked for opportunities to practise new compositional techniques. I used the historic Walterdale Theatre, formerly a firehall, to frame the two of them in a wider shot using the architecture of the building as my landscape. With warm sunset light filtering over their shoulders and creating a soft haze, I took photos using the sky as empty space above them. One of my favourite shots of the day captured Judy and Andrew in the foreground and used the walls of Southern Autobody as the backdrop.

As with any new skill, creating new compositions takes practise. For this shoot, I set out with the goal of trying a different compositional technique, but found it surprisingly hard to execute as I set up my photos. Getting home from this shoot, I critically looked at what I had captured and revisited the photographers who have been giving me inspiration. I took this critique forward and continued to challenge myself on new compositional techniques. Next week I’ll share photos of Emily and Royden which further hone my compositional style.

Tech Specs
Location: Edmonton, AB
Date: December 27, 2015
Equipment: Canon 5diii, Canon 24-105mm, Canon 35mm, Canon 85mm

Up Next
On Thursday I throwback to a prairie picnic with Hannah and Jarrett.

This article about Portrait Photography was written by the Montreal-based portrait and wedding photographer Selena Phillips-Boyle.