20 Nov Author Portrait : Nyna Giles
Marketing and PR maven, Mental Health Advocate and now Writer. Whew! Nyna Giles has a full plate and now as an author of a new book, The Bridesmaid’s Daughter, soon to be released by St. Martin’s Press, I suspect she will be even more busy. Nyna was recommended to me via her agent with whom I had talked to some months back. I had a short call with Nyna as we discussed various aspects of the portrait session and how it would happen. She told me she was down in the Westchester area but was willing to drive up to Woodstock for our shoot.. How nice! So we set a date and decided on the style we would go for. That’s something I should probably mention if anyone was wondering how I do this. Unlike some photographers who have a unique look to their headshots and professional portraits I like to vary my approach to my subject. This doesn’t mean that the shots don’t look like my shots, in the end my stuff always looks like my stuff. Overall though the lighting type and quality of shadow or fill can really vary depending on the subjects face and desires. This has two benefits, first one is the lighting is tailored to the subjects face which is so important to creating flattering portraits, and two, I would get so bored if I did the same lighting for everyone. Anyway, back to Nyna, she had expressed a desire to have some classic looking images. Nyna’s new book is very personal story about her mother and the relationship she had with her growing up. Her mother was a former Ford model and had sat for many if not all the top photographers of her time. So with that in mind I wanted to stay very simple and create a modern version of any portrait you would see in the 60’s. Something that would feel timeless, portraits that would last. To Nyna’s credit she also wanted a hair and makeup person on the day of the shoot. Although this does add to the budget it can be so helpful, so we called around and Inanna King answered our call for hair help, and she brought with her Doria Riker to do makeup. POWER DUO!! They brought a pro polish to the shoot. The first shot came from a image that inspired me, shot sometime in the late 50’s. With big open light and a very flattering angle. This something I don’t often do, which is shoot down on my subjects. I usually like a very “level” to camera approach, but this looked great and felt good. I ended up converting this to black and white as well and did a very strong, contrasty and rich black technique which I ended really liking. Maybe even more than the color, though the color is very beautiful. Portraits can really be so different in feel based on their printing. That was my deep thought for the day..
Anyway, after moving on from that shot we went for a fairly safe direct portrait and again Nyna’s comfort in front of the camera made it easy to come away with another winner. This one required a little bit of playing with the light, as my first lighting set up did not flatter her face, so I quickly reset the light to a soft but very directional single head.. Her face was instantly sculpted and it brought out her eyes. Portrait number two done. As a third idea we had the thought of a casual looking image, something that would feel like a very good snapshot. Something that might have been taken at a party and was not set up in a studio. So we changed up wardrobe, lighting, and used a piece of vintage fabric as a background curtain. By using a continuous source film light we got a very different feel from the strobes we had been using. Not only did the color balance skew to very warm the heat and directionality of the light creates a completely environment for Nyna to be in. She saw the first few test frames come up on the screen and was immediately attracted to the quality of the light and feel. It felt completely different and cool. That elevated snapshot feel I wanted was there.. Shoot complete!
The response Nyna got to her portraits has been great and I cannot wait read her book and it’s fascinating story. Her site is going up right now and I will link back to it as soon as it’s ready, in the meantime you can read about Nyna on her site. The book is available for preorder through all the sellers..
Thanks Nyna for your trust in me to help bring your story to the world..
Enjoy the images.