Master photographer Vik Orenstein captures the essence of a sad child
Vik Orenstein challenges our notions that pictures should always be of smiling, happy people. Her tender portrait of a sad child will take your breath away.
Move Beyond People’s Expectations
Vik Orenstein: This little gal just totally cracked me up. She was so expressive. When they came in, this was another of the deals where the mom wanted everybody in white shirts and blue jeans. She was primarily looking for a family shot with the two parents and the two children.
But being bossy, I insisted on shooting some of Martha by herself. Instead of going for that one perfect smile with the typical sugar and spice shot, I just talked to Martha about a number of different things. I can’t remember what it was that really upset her. I think that I mentioned haircuts. She hates getting her haircut. (click the image for a larger version)
She got that little quivering lower lip chin thing going that I just love. I went ahead and shot it. It turned out that it was one of the mom’s favorites in the session too even though she had come in with a completely different goal in mind.
I keep this picture around my desktop actually, as a reminder to shoot everything, not just the smiles, and not just the images that fit the client’s description of what they’re looking for because a lot of times you can surprise yourself and surprise the client.
Audri Lanford: I want to ask you about this as well. The tones in this, it’s a very light photograph. What made you decide to shoot it that way?
Vik Orenstein: Actually I didn’t shoot it that way. It was a normal capture and then, when I was editing it in Photoshop, I kept looking at how she’s a little towheaded blond with those berry blue eyes, and I realized that I wanted an image that would almost only be all eyes with that high key beautiful creamy colored hair, and her creamy colored skin.
I went into Photoshop and I used curves. I cheated. This is another one of those deals where you want to know the rules so you can break them. I used the white eyedropper and I clicked on something that was gray so instead of setting the white plane, I set the white planes as if it was gray.
That lightened up everything in the picture that was the same as the gray tone or brighter. That was how I got that really high key look.
Rules are made to be broken and photography rules are no exception. Vik Orenstein’s picture of a sad child is a perfect example of what can happen when you play around with your photos.