This January, I started a 52 week photography challenge. (If you follow me on Instagram, you’re already well aware of this.) I wanted a way to push myself both as a portrait photographer and a general photographer; the challenge I chose rotates between portraiture, landscape and artistic photos, with a different theme each week.
Unsurprisingly, I’ve been more satisfied with my portrait photos than my landscape or artistic ones, and this week even more so. The challenge was to take an environmental portrait; that is, an image of someone in his or her “natural environment.”
After a little bit of thought, I settled on the idea of a vintage/junk shop. I liked the idea of creating layers around my subject, and a nice, messy junk shop seemed like the perfect setting. The first few I stopped into this weekend were entirely too curated and tidy. I wanted chaos and age and the sense that a treasure was just waiting to be found.
The second I walked into Down Memory Lane, I knew I’d found it. It felt like walking into a grandparent’s basement. Boxes of seashells or buttons were stacked on the floor, piles of jewelry and jars of marbles were tucked into shelves. Little piles of kibble were hidden away to satisfy the shop cat. I was in love. I waited until a few customers cleared out, then approached the women who had been helping them. She directed me to the older gentleman puttering around the store; her father, the owner.
I tried a few posed shots, which didn’t work as well as I’d hoped, then eventually wound up just following him around the store as he continued to putter.
Each week, photographers are to submit only one image. It took me longer to settle on a single photo than it did to take all the frames for the day. The above is what I ultimately decided on; the runners-up are below.
They’re strong images, and as far as portrait goes I think I like the black and white one best. But ultimately it didn’t have the sense of environment I was going for, so I stuck with the horizontal image as my main choice.
Do you have a favorite? Let me know in the comments!