Saturday, 20 July 2013

The Photo Duel - Lifestyle Portraiture with Patricia Mellin

I had a photo duel with Patricia Mellin yesterday, got thoroughly trounced, and loved every minute of it! Don't get me wrong, I got some very good shots of Patricia, it is just that she shot a whole series of excellent lifestyle portraits of me. I like them a lot, and I am very happy to show some of her photos off here. I will also do an analysis of each shot, to show why I like them, and what to learn from them.

Patricia is a social media strategist, and owner of Patricia Mellin Consulting. I met her at Business Network International (BNI) meetings a couple of times, but it was when I ran into her at a café that we  started talking.

What I immediately liked about Patricia was that she practices what she teaches. She has built a great social media presence. When she speaks about social media, it is from personal experience. You can get an overview of her social media presence on As a photographer, I am of course interested in social media, and Patricia's experience makes her very well worth listening to.

Patricia showed me a couple of shots she had taken at a BNI meeting the very same day. Some of the shots had me in them, and in every one, she had caught me when I had an odd facial expression, or had twisted parts of my body into unlikely positions. I had no idea I looked that weird at business meetings...

I did the natural thing for a photographer: I challenged Patricia to a photo duel. She accepted. Yesterday we went to the Gothenburg Gardening Association to duel with our cameras.

I hold to the Marine Corps motto: If you get into a fair fight, you haven't prepared enough! In this case, I knew that my greatest advantage would be that Patricia is beautiful, whereas I have a face made for radio. As it turned out, it wasn't enough of an advantage. Patricia made me look good in the pictures. Quite a feat for any photographer.

I knew I had considerably more camera gear, but camera gear does not enable you to take better pictures. Camera gear enables you to take different kinds of pictures, which is another thing altogether. Thus, I went lightly armed, with just my camera, couple of flashes, remote controls, small softbox, two lenses... Well, that is a lot less gear than I usually pack when I go out the door.

Patricia used just her pocket camera and camera phone, and got this shot:

Henrik, fotografen, framför kameran

This is an excellent lifestyle portrait: Patricia caught me with a big smile on my face. The composition is very good, with my head and my camera as balancing elements. And, she went in close, which makes for a more interesting picture.

The background is also very good: A bit darker than my face, which helps viewers focus on the subject, which happens to be me.

A lifestyle portrait should tell something about what a person is. Patricia told my story, "happy photographer guy", and did it very well, with one click!
Henrik, fotografen, framför kameran

If you follow this blog, you may recall that I am working on a photo book. I have been working on a chapter on portrait photography, and how to catch the essence of a person in a photo.

I needed some new portraits for the chapter, and yesterday, while we were dueling, Patricia did the job for me. In the photo above, we see it again: There is great composition, this time with the camera lens creating a leading line to my head. The background is darker than my face, which makes the face stand out clearly. The story is about focus, determination, and dedication.

Henrik, fotografen, framför kameran
We finished off by having coffee at a café, and there, Patricia nailed it again: Happy photographer guy!

I love this one: Great composition again, with the camera in the foreground, main subject in the middle ground, and the trees as the backdrop.

Patricia uploaded a set of pictures to Flickr. Go and have a look!

Of course, I did shoot some pictures too. Here is a slideshow for your enjoyment. I think you can see how enjoyable the shoot was.

You can find Patricia on Facebook, Google+, Linkedin, and of course her company website. You might guess that a social media strategist would blog, and you would be right. Patricia does blog.

Patricia and I have decided that this was too much fun to do only once. We will have a rematch. When we do, I am sure we'll have some interesting photos to show you.

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