Photography Tip: Don't Force a Smile in a Portrait - Retiring Holyoke MA Police Chief Anthony Scott

Photography Tip: Portrait of Holyoke, MA Police Chief Anthony Scott

Portrait of Holyoke Massachusetts Chief of Police Anthony Scott

View the Full Image on Adrian Feliciano's Photostream.

HOLYOKE, MA - In 2011, The Gazette sent me to get some photos of controversial Holyoke Police Chief Anthony Scott, as he prepared to retire from the force. He was a challenge to photograph. Though he was personable, he did not particularly care for the camera. It had become very obvious after I had taken some photos of him at his desk, in the hallway, and then outside.

The shots I had were decent enough, but I wanted leave with a great portrait. Rather than trying to get him to "smile" or be "chummy" with him to help put him at ease, I kept it simple -- I stood him near a window, and asked him not to worry about trying to smile. I dialed in a rough f-stop / shutter combination and fired a quick test-shot without flash in order to confirm background exposure. Then I fired another shot with a flagged flash set to eTTL, aimed at the ceiling to camera left, to fill in shadows on his face.

After making a couple of quick adjustments, I directed Chief Scott to look directly at the camera's lens and then asked him to close his eyes. Once his eyes were closed, I asked him to take a couple of slow deep breaths, holding each for a moment before gently exhaling. As he began taking his final deep breath, I asked him to open his eyes at the very bottom of his exhale, when his shoulders would have been at their most relaxed, and said that I would snap the photo after I counted aloud to three seconds after he opened his eyes. Mind you, I had no intention of actually counting to three.

He then opened his eyes, as soon as they focused I said “That’s perfect, I am going to count now. One…”

*click*

Photo by Adrian Feliciano, originally published in 2011 by The Daily Hampshire Gazette.