About an hour ago the results for a photo competition entitled The Connection Between Generations (Lëtz: D'Verbindung tëschent den Generatiounen) organized by 45Plus together with photogen.lu were announced. My photo above won the public voting and convinced the professional jury. I'm now the happy winner of a Macbook, the photo will make the first page of a calendar and I can take part in a workshop during the Rencontres d'Arles.
I'm a happy camper, and the least I can do is to share some of the behind-the-scenes info of this photo. The competition had been announced months ago, but students are masters of deadline dodging: the picture was taken the day before submissions closed. I had had the idea for the shot in mind for a while, but the problem was my lack of models: pretty much anyone I know in the UK is around my age, whereas I needed to photograph a parent with their child. So I got on my bike, cycled to the playground looking for a family to take pictures with. It didn't take long before I met Dan and Esme. I explained Dan why I wanted to take photographs with them and offered them a copy of the photo for their family album in return. So when Esme was ready (going down the slide takes priority, after all) we started shooting.
The concept required the photo's point of view to correspond with Dan's. So I put the Canon strap (see setup photo) around his neck; the Tamrac strap which can be clipped on went around his waist to further reduce camera shake. After some test shots the camera was set to burst mode (6.5fps) at f/5.6, 1/80, ISO 160 and 10mm, the camera was triggered with a radio-controlled shutter release. Dan was spinning fast which meant that I could get away with quite a short shutter speed and still get enough motion blur on the background. Four of the about 80 taken photos had enough sharpness on Esme's face, the others were blurred. With all the movement and spinning, the camera ends up wobbling around a bit. Before packing up I asked Dan to sign a model release for Esme - this is something you should do whenever you take pictures in which people can be identified. The one I use confirms that I as the photographer retain all the rights to the image, including the right to publish it, and on the other hand states that the people who were photographed are entitled to a copy of the image(s).
At home I processed the RAW image in Lightroom 2.1, with multiple virtual copies which were adjusted for the different areas of the image. Those files were then put together in Photoshop CS3, where I added a picture of a blurred sky which I took after the shoot. I cloned out some distracting elements on the ground and selectively worked on contrast and colour. Finally I added a slight vignette to draw the viewer's attention even more into the middle of the frame.
Many many thanks to Dan and Esme for spontaneously shooting with me, and to the jury as well as all those who voted for my entry!