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Friday, March 4, 2011

“Open Wide”

Environmental portraits show people working in their typical professional environment, surrounded by their tools, customers, co-workers, etc.

Veterinarian works on cougar’s mouth at Boston’s Franklin Park Zoo operating room (© Michael Maher).

The Photo:
I elected to shoot a picture story of the head veterinarian who tended to the animals at Boston’s Franklin Park Zoo. Although he agreed I could follow him around and photograph him working, he would not make special arrangements or accommodations to set up photos for me because he was so busy. When he treated this cougar’s teeth, the background was a bright window, which created glare and made it hard to get a good photo, but he would not stop to close a shade or reposition himself to help my shot. However, I was able to maneuver around enough to get a clear shot against the bright windows of him working intently on the cougar. The animal was sedated, strapped still on the table and a device held the cougar’s mouth open, while an assistant also held its head. This is an example of one powerful type of portrait -- people doing their jobs -- for while it is not a facial close-up, the work and surroundings clearly convey their personalities.

3 Tips:
1) Occupational photos are one distinct type of environmental portrait.
2) Not all portrait and personality photos need to be facial close-ups.
3) Show the subject in the act of doing his/her job and, if possible, a facial expression.

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