It’s been a while since I last did portraits. I arrive at the hotel at 9.45am. It’s too early and I need to wait for my subjects to get out of the lecture. There are 88 of them.
I have been hired to photograph an astrophysicist convention in a well known Blue Mountains resort. These are probably the most intelligent portrait subjects I’ll ever get to photograph.
It’s a good thing there’s a whole constellation of them.
I talk to my contact. She suggests we do the shoot outside, in front of some greenery in the back of the hotel.
All I need is a decent background, and the sun facing me. “We don’t want people squinting in the sun,” I tell her.
It’s almost time. I’ve checked my camera settings. My flash works. It’s a beautiful day in the Mountains and I’ve been in Australia for almost ten years. When I arrived I had nothing, I think to myself. Now I’m photographing scientists.
And then they start coming. The first person steps inside the designated area, smiles like a star and moves away. This is going to be a fast ride.
I greet everyone with a hello or how are you going.
Then, a quick glance at the back of the camera to make sure that the focus is spot on.
“Thank you very much.”
I feel like the soup nazi in Seinfeld. Except this time everyone gets their soup.
The portraits are over in an hour. My contact tells me she had a photographer somewhere in Perth that took an hour to get the lights right. I think of soft boxes and elaborate lighting diagrams.
The more you learn the less you need. This time, all I needed was my camera, the sun and a flash.
And 88 stars.