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Eye-Catching Portraits and Photos of the Week

Portrait photography can run the gamut in type and style—everything from the traditional “head and shoulders” shot to lifestyle and environmental, candid and street, glamour, boudoir, maternity sessions and much more. This week, as we continue to feature some of the eye-catching portraits and photos that caught our attention from our show brand WPPI’s The Annual Live Judging event and Honors of Excellence Awards ceremony in Las Vegas on August 18, you can also read the backstories on how they were created.

Ben Shirk, of Shirk Photography in Iowa, has always had quite the imagination. Fortunately, his passion and drive for unique imagery allows him the ability to make what he sees in his head come alive in his imagery.

[Read: Ben Shirk on Creating an Award-Winning Composite Image]

Case in point: this image of a ship captain, which recently won the WPPI Double Master First Place in the Open – Creative category.

The Last Port. © Shirk Photography

“I originally wanted to capture something with a ship captain,” says Shirk. “I spent some time making up various stories that I could tell about an old captain. One story in particular was that of an old captain stuck in an 1900’s insane asylum and dreaming of freedom.”

[Read: High School Senior Portrait Pointers from Cheryl Walsh]

Shirk says he next spent a great deal of time creating a storyboard of images to inspire him, typically his first step towards creating a great image. “Gradually that led me to a captain escaping from an institution. From there I started wondering about the story of Captain Hook and what happens when he can no longer take care of himself and dementia and cataracts gradually take over. That is how the story became one of a feeble Captain Hook’s last days being spent in a mental institution and the lost boys breaking him out for one last game.”

WPPI Triple Master Cheryl Walsh‘s underwater photograph tells the story of a widow ready to join her long lost love in the afterlife. The very creative rendering took First Place in WPPI’s Portrait – Creative category.

˙Till Death Do Us Part. © Cheryl Walsh Fine Art

“She rises in her wedding gown, hair white from advanced age but skin renewed with the anticipation of being with her beloved,” Walsh explains. “In a liquid environment. she doesn’t even need to breathe and gravity no longer weighs on her. For her this is a beginning rather than an end.”

The image was printed on Canson® Infinity Arches® BFK Rives® Pure White for “its perfect representation of this image,” says Walsh. “It’s subtle texture accentuates the texture of the brocade fabric and clouds while leaving her skin looking luminous.” Walsh adds that the paper shows off the depth and dimension of the image with its subtle deep blacks, sharp details and gradient of highlights. “The 100 percent cotton, pure white base with no optical brighteners, and a completely neutral surface, allows for full control of the level of warmth in the image, all while using an archival paper. This is absolutely the perfect paper for this image, there is no other paper I would print it on.”

Belinda Richards says this image was created in her studio—Frog Dog Studios—in Melbourne during “one of the many locked down days that we have endured this year,” she says. “I built this set over the course of a day and shot it the next. The idea was to create an image that showed the absence our best friends create in our homes when they are no longer with us.”

The Hardest Part of Loving a Dog. © Belinda Richards/Frog Dog Studios

Richards says the thing she loves most about this image—which earned her First Place in WPPI’s Portrait – Animals + Pets category—is the connection viewers feel when they see the image. Many have reported back that the image has brought them to tears, which shows that I have achieved what I set out to do.”

This family friend portrait, says Stacy Robeson, was taken at a public park in the Chicago suburbs. The image, which placed third in Portrait – Newborn + Baby, incorporates how she views childhood in a whimsical and playful manner, with playful elements added in.

Kiernan. © Stacy Robeson

“My goal for all of my portraits is for them to be classic, timeless, and tell a story about the subject,” says Robeson. “As part of my artistic process, I spend time getting to know my clients and through conversations we develop a vision for their portraits together—from the styling to location, color scheme and general theme.”

In this particular case, the parents left the creative control completely up to Robeson. “When I looked at this sweet little baby, I saw a cherub. He has such a beautiful and unique look to him that reminded me of a doll. I knew that I wanted to capture him amongst vintage dolls, whose curly fur and ears reminded me of this child’s most precious and similarly colored curly locks. I thought that it would be adorable to create a scene where this baby was portrayed as one of the little bears hanging out as if they were at a picnic together in the park. My favorite component is this gorgeous little cherub baby, who is complemented by a cohesive color story, different textures naturally layered into the portrait, and the connected and playful interactions with the bears.”

Texas photographer Brooke Kasper‘s background is in painting but it was a life-altering event that prompted her journey into photography. She got her creative start as a graphic artist but once her mom passed away (17 years ago) she quit that and decided to pick up a camera. “To heal, I went out and shot everything I could with the camera. It was an inauspicious start to a photography career.”

Broken. © Brooke Kasper

And what a career it’s been. Her work often conveys messages through the use of symbolism, as with this image titled “Broken”; it earned her First Place in WPPI’s Portrait – Individual category.

“I use ropes a lot in my imagery,” Kasper says. “They represent the ties that bind.”

The post Eye-Catching Portraits and Photos of the Week appeared first on Rangefinder.

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