Once I said I’ll never photograph people, I stick to still life and landscape. I am glad I struck me from the thought. The reason that at that time I was to unsure on how to compose a portrait and how I was going to get the right expression that I wanted. I still think it is a bit scary and difficult to photograph humans because my subjects now has expectations on what I can create with my camera, but I love to challenge myself and will continue with what I am doing for a long time.
If you haven’t been living beneath the sea with captain Nemo or under a big rock in the mountains of Himalaya, but have been watching Norwegian television and reading papers, you might find this face somewhat familiar. I’ll give you some hints, other than just the image text right below the photo; – Drunk at the James Bond – Casino Royale premiere, – Shakes his ass like a single lady Beyoncé, – Norwegian celebrities do special tricks with their body. This is a portrait of Truls Svendsen. He started his career as a stunt reporter at “Senkveld med Thomas & Harald”, but got his breakthrough with his own TV-program “Kroppen”, showing at NRK1 and this was really how I knew who he was. A fan of “scientific” programs, I found him to be a funny and trustworthy man with great deal of self-irony.
As an assignment at Norsk Fotofagskole we were to do a portrait series of any celebrity we wanted, if we could convince them to take part in doing a photo shoot with us. I was in a bit of luck, I had a friend who knew Truls from I don’t know why, the only catch was that he lived in Oslo and I studied in Trondheim. Oslo is a large town compared to Trondheim that was not so familiar with, except the fear of freezing still and get start struck, I got a real big challenge. I got his phone number and called him having prepared some relevant dates that I could meet up and do the shoot. The answer was yes. Lucky bastard, I thought. I wanted to portray Truls as more of a serious man showing his human sides not choosing the easy way out having him to do funny stuff.
Having the idea of doing an Anton Corbijn-portrait-style photo shoot I went to Oslo a few days earlier than the d-day to scout fitting locations. Since I stayed at my friends place at Grünerløkka, I used that part as a starting point working my way towards the town center and ended up at Internasjonalen at Youngstorget. After exploring the building and found some spots where I could do the shoot, got a green light to use their bar as location.
Having prepared myself I meet Truls the next day for the photo shoot. Luckily I didn’t freeze up as I had first thought, it might have been because his pleasant being and appeared quite down to earth. We had some laughs, he shared some stories, and speaking for myself, I had a great time doing this photo shoot. We did some funny photos on a seesaw, some with him smiling and the serious planned portraits such as the one in this post.
Trusting a 100% in my camera I set the mode to aperture priority and the automatic ISO-changer if the shutter speed went further down than a 1/60 of a second. The exposure compensation was turned to -0,3 or -0,7. My cousin helped me out with a reflector brightening the areas I wanted. In this particular shot I have photographed Truls through the glass window on some doors entering a big concert hall. This is picture one that I said was just a test, the five following photos I threw in the bin. Having practicing portrait photography for a while I used my best trick that may apply to all your future portraits, be yourself. Hide your frustrations when technical errors occur, they will, but in failing to do so, your subjects reads your expressions and they will eventually give you the same expression in your photos. Trick your subjects once in a while if they stiffen up a bit to get the most natural expressions. And don’t be afraid to give directions, but be clear on what you want to express. It helps having some example photos printed or stored at a tablet or a smart phone easily accessible.
If I could do this shoot again, I’d be up for the challenge.