On Portraiture and Space Buns

I'll just come right out and say it: portrait photography is not my strong suit. 90% of the time, if I have my camera in hand, it's because I'm shooting rowing or a social event. In the former, there's no interaction with the subjects, given that said subjects are usually in the process of trying to beat an opposing crew by putting themselves in extreme amounts of pain, and this is not conducive to interaction with a photographer. In the latter, I'm trying to snap a well-composed, in-focus shot of a small group of people as quickly as possible to get through the massive line of people who want to be photographed in their evening finery. 

Portrait photography involves a very different skill set: you have to be able to make the subject comfortable and keep them that way for the duration of a shoot, which generally lasts much longer than the three to five seconds I spend taking a photo of a person at a party. So far I've been able to get away with simply not really knowing how to use lights, reflectors and Photoshop, but the time has come to earn my photographic chops. Luckily for me, I have the perfect subject to practice on.


I like to joke that my younger sister got all the good genes in the family. She's tall enough to make it as a WNBA star, with eyebrows that have garnered her countless comparisons to Cara Delevigne, and has somehow avoided the need for heavy-duty acne interventions that were the bane of my teenage existence. She's also far more fashionable and makeup-savvy than I will ever be, and is not at all camera shy. (Unlike her older sister, who chose to stay behind the camera for a reason.)


After a series of negotiations (i.e. you model for me, I indulge your current obsession with ColourPop highlighters) we hit on a look and spent a very enjoyable afternoon bonding over our shared love of NARS concealers and inability to figure out how the heck one actually applies bronzer. (Multiple makeup remover wipes were used in the creation of this image.) 


Having only recently been introduced to the campy gloriousness of Star Wars, I was also a big fan of the hairstyle she chose. Although she isn't actually familiar with Princess Leia, having never seen the movies, she did refer to her double topknots as "space buns," which suggests that they are at least an indirect homage to Leia's iconic hairdo. 


This is probably my favorite image from the shoot. The head-on pose captures the intense chemistry she has with the camera, and the wider crop means the space buns have a little more breathing room. It also emphasizes what I love about my sister: yes, she's glamorous, but that doesn't mean she's not tough as nails, too.