To take the portrait of Su Thomas, the Director of Savile Row Bespoke (SRB). SRB is an association dedicated to protecting and promoting the practices and traditions that have made Savile Row the home of global bespoke tailoring. I have known Su for a number of years through my work in menswear and photography on the Row.
Su is full of energy and positivity and likes to talk and engage. The photographic challenge in such an instance is taking a portrait when the subject is not in mid flow of conversation as their face will be in full swing. Head, eyes, mouth; a snapshot of a person while they are talking is rarely flattering as facial elements are fully engaged in the process of talking and communication. However asking a conversationalist to pause for a portrait can equally be tricky as moments of silence may not come easily and this unease is often reflected in their face. This is exacerbated when working with a dSLR; conversing with a subject while your face, and especially your mouth, is covered by a camera is not ideal.
This portrait of Su was taken during a lull in the portrait session while I changed the lighting setup. As I changed the backdrop from white to dark blue and tweaked the flash lighting accordingly, conversation momentarily stopped. After finalising my changes, I found Su looking into the half distance away from the camera and I took the opportunity to take a series of frames, five in total, while she was in this pose. When asked what she was thinking about Su replied she was reflecting on a eulogy she giving at the funeral of a friend taking place a week hence.
Is this the type of image either Su Thomas or myself had in mind for the session? When all the other frames from the portrait session were of Su looking at the camera and showing her bubbly personality, I doubt it. However I believe it was striking enough that it deserved to be taken. I’m aware I risk mentioning emotional honesty in regards to portraiture potentially ad nauseam, yet I believe it is important to taking a portrait which subsequently engages with and captures the viewer’s attention.