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  • Writer's pictureEllie

Editorial Portrait Session | San Jose Orchard

Updated: Feb 16, 2018

A hidden orchard, finding inspiration, and rediscovering film.

It must be that gardening I did as a kid, because I love farms! Especially Martial Cottle Farm Park. Getting to have the outdoor portion of this photoshoot in the pear orchard was such a thrill, and we were really lucky to still have some fall leaves on the trees. Alyssa Kompelien is a local film actress and her experience definitely shines through to modeling. We agreed early on in our communication that we'd like to do something a little more editorial. What the heck is editorial?! Okay, so I was unclear about this term for a while, but basically it means a photographic style that gives creative freedom to capture photographs that tell a story and evoke a feeling in the viewer. I especially love this style because it is the most parallel to my background in fine art.

For the studio portion of the photoshoot, I was inspired by some portraits of the actress Marion Cotillard taken by Annie Leibovitz. It was a great experience to work from inspiration photos, because it helped me to fine tune some different lighting set ups and break out of my comfort zone with posing. I also got to try my new crushed muslin backdrop and steamer (I'm not sure if I will ever iron clothes again). Not surprisingly, the main thing that I found about working with inspiration is that once I had everything set up, the best photographs were the ones where we broke from following them.

To the right are the inspiration photos, and below are my interpretation:

After the studio session, we went to the nearby Orchard at Martial Cottle Farm Park. Alyssa wore a simple grey slip dress that I paired with a lilac-colored wrap to complement the yellow leaves and help keep her warm. The autumn colors of the orchard, the rows of pear trees, and the quiet atmosphere made for an extraordinary location for our photoshoot. There was an old pruning ladder propped up underneath one of the trees that worked as a great spot for Alyssa to sit underneath the tree branches.

Besides getting to photograph Alyssa in such a beautiful location, I also got the chance to pick up my Pentax 35mm film camera that I used during college and graduate school. It was such a strange experience manually focusing the lens and hearing the film advance in the camera. I became much more careful and intentional about the photographs I was taking. When I got the film back, I was surprised to notice such a difference in the feeling that the photographs gave me. It's a little hard to describe, so take a look for yourself in the photos below.

I think that photographs taken with a digital camera in RAW almost contain too much information and detail sometimes. These film photographs seem to retain more of what I was feeling when I captured the photographs. In a way I think they can represent more of how we actually see. After these results, I'm really excited to keep pursuing film.

As the sun was setting, we turned the opposite direction so that the sunset was in the background, and I utilized off camera flash to create some directional lighting on Alyssa's face.

I can't wait to see what these farm fields will look like in Spring!

Thank you to Alyssa for her amazing work and thank you for following along.



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