I have been the official photographer for The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA) seven years in a row now, and it is mainly an event that takes place during a week in May/June.
This year’s recipient, the fantastic Meg Rosoff, came to Stockholm and was greeted with nice weather but quite windy. My first assignment is always to do a photo shoot so ALMA can have their own publicity portraits in their image bank, and that session always takes place on Skeppsholmen, a small island in the middle of Stockholm.
One light with no sail
I would have preferred to have used an umbrella or a softbox, but with the wind, I had to learn from previous experience, do not use lighting modifiers that flies away on their own.
Most times, when I use a studio flash outdoors, I tend to have them quite close to my models. I like working that way, but now I also wanted to include a bit of the nice scenery from Stockholm at it’s best, so I had to have something that didn’t steal too much light.
I could have brought a beauty dish, but instead I opted for a Zoom Reflector to get more light of my Profoto B1. A Magnum or Telezoom could have been an option, of course, but they are so much bigger and might catch more wind.
At almost the same spot, I took some portraits of a previous laureate, Shaun Tan, but that time I used a Magnum Reflector.
Lucky for me, I found places where I could strap the light stand to something, or that my client helped me by holding it steady in the wind. Last year one light stand fell and nearly hit the ground, so I am always thinking of ways to avoid that happening again.
Portrait in a car, again
Two years ago, when Swedish author Barbro Lindgren was the recipient, I did some portraits with her sitting in a BMW (the sponsor), and they turned out great.
Doing the same thing again, why not? It is a new face, and if it works, it works. So Meg sat in the back seat, I placed the Profoto B1 in front of the car, shining though the front window, and tried out different angles.
Natural light portraits
To get the most out of my time with Meg, I chose not to make things to hard and use my flash all the time. Finding good shadow, with just a little light trickling down through the canopy works great even if the green everywhere tend to seep into the skin colors.
At the end of the photo session, we got to the café and I just let Meg sit down at a table beneath the sun screen above. The very diffused light from the sun through a white fabric together with reflected light from the white table worked well as portrait lighting.
The only problem with that was the anti-glare/anti-reflection treatment her glasses had, which made them turn a bit green no matter how I tried different angles. The light came from everywhere, so there was not much to do about it. But I think it looked nice anyway.
And now I have also taken my first author portrait with ducks, another think I can cross from my bucket list.
Before my time slot, there was a filmed interview of Meg Rosoff that you can watch on YouTube, so I took some photos there as well. I never planned to be a part of that clip, but at 3:44 you can see me working in a non-optimal stance. No wonder my back can get a bit sore after a day shooting portraits outdoors.
Taking portraits of Meg Rosoff was a really nice experience, we talked more than I worked, I think. That can sometimes be a problem if I meet people that are a bit too interesting and easy to talk to. But I think we got a good balance and some really fine portraits.
Now I have a few assignments left following her around Stockholm on different visits and next Monday I will be at the Concert Hall for the prize ceremony, but very far away with a tele lens.