Almost everyone that has viewed this image from the project cracks up when they see it. I dig that. Eliciting a response from viewers is one of my fundamental responsibilities as a photographer, and whether that response is laughter, hostility, shock or any other emotion, I have done my job.
I had a very clear vision for this shot from the beginning. My goal was for it to look like the photo was taken from inside a medicine cabinet or a bathroom mirror, clearly informing the viewer that this was in a bathroom setting. And I knew I wanted an exaggerated facial expression to prevent the photo from being too static and boring. But who to photograph?
My initial vision was of a very old man with few teeth, thinking that a wrinkled face would have lots of “character”. I quickly realized that this might come off as disrespectful so I went to the other end of the age spectrum in search of a youngster who had recently lost some teeth. After reaching out to some friends, I soon had my subject.
Nathan is the seven-year-old son of some of my best friends, Brian and Tori. I have literally known them almost my entire life and I’ve gotten to know their kids pretty well too. I know from experience that photographing kids can be a real chore if you don’t have any rapport with them, so I was thankful to have some history with Nathan already.
When I arrived at the family’s home, we decided to shoot the photo in a spare bathroom they have in their basement. I chose it mainly because of the tiled walls that line the shower: it is a background that screams “bathroom” and the reflective surface would look cool under my lights. Which reminds me…
I knew exactly what lighting setup I wanted to use for the photo, and it worked fairly well without much adjustment. There was a Nikon speedlight with a Honl grid on either side of Nate, aimed at his cheeks, and another in a DIY beauty dish above me to the right of the camera. You can see this main light reflected in Nate’s eyes.
Unfortunately, you could also see it reflected in the tiles behind Nate. The tell-tale circular reflection was skillfully removed by ace retoucher Alyssa Noe though.
The photos looked pretty good straight from camera, which is always my goal, but I wanted to make it more “bathroomy” so I shifted the white balance a bit to add the greenish tint that you normally see from fluorescent lighting.
Nothing too profound from this shoot, other than the fact that kids like Nathan are ALWAYS fun to shoot, especially when you give them something to do in front of the camera. He was a total ham, and was giggling the entire time. I guess that will happen when you give a seven-year-old free reign to make a total mess in the bathroom without fear of parental reprisal!
The hardest part was choosing an image to use. I made my choice because I thought the expression was more intense and would stop folks in their tracks, and I wasn’t wrong. But the shot below was a close second!