Every once in a while at my job, an assignment comes up where all the elements fall into place and I get to make a really creative portrait. Such was the case with this photograph. This was for a story on 17-year-old Danielle Burmudez who was recently awarded membership to the National Society of High School Scholars. To earn such an award a student needs to not only have good grades but also to be involved with their school activities and community. Burmudez was on the swim team and also created her own non profit program with two school mates to raise money for the Foundation for African Medicine and Education. She collects plastic bottles and then cashes them in for money that is then sent off to children in need. Already she has raised almost $300 through bottle donation.

She showed me her mountainous collection of bottles in her garage. I think one of the elements that go into making a good picture is getting your subject to hop on board your idea. This can be achieved many different ways but mainly through your enthusiasm, attitude and convincing argument for its purpose. The quicker you can establish trust with your subject the better your photos will be.

So for this shot I saw the bagged, plastic bottles all bundled up nicely and told her that I wanted to bury her in them. Swimming in the success of her achievement. After promising to help her clean up she agreed and we got started. I think that really made all the difference. Here is another version of the picture showing how I lit the image. I had a strobe on the upper left side of the image balanced on stacked boxes about 4 ft tall and another strobe in the lower right corner illuminating her feet. The top strobe was bounced off the poster board at right to give a little fill light to the right side of her face. I was pleased with the results.



1 reply
  1. Rebecca!?!
    Rebecca!?! says:

    GREAT shot Mike! The same for all the ones in the next post….especially the one through the woman’s legs on the Bio tour. Are you working for a newspaper now in Cali?

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