Its sometimes assumed that a portrait is best taken in the warmth of summer when the sun is high in the sky and colours are vibrant. However, in the UK, the portraits I’ve most enjoyed taking have been in the middle of winter when the sun is muted by cloud, there’s a frost underfoot and low clouds here over the Blackmore Vale create a haunting atmosphere. Admittedly, my dislike of bulky coats which have the annoying habit of restricting children’s movements, hiding hands and hoods that hide faces, can cause some interesting responses from the parents of some of the children I photograph.. Some reassurance that lots of running around and copious thin layers make for more natural portraits is given. On occasions (like with Tom below) I’ll use a hood or a coat to shape an image to a face, but generally I find they hinder the aesthetic.
I don’t need a reminder of how beautiful our landscape is in Dorset, it excels in all the seasons, but this morning was what I yearn for as a UK portrait photographer who works on location. This winter’s taken its time getting going and this mornings run over Melbury Hill reminded me of the shoot I did a few years ago with child actor Freddie Downham and his brother Tom. Even my trusty, resilient Hassleblad, groaned under the minus temperatures. Ever the professional, Freddie braved the icy conditions, sat in a corn field with a thin jumper – I love how the frost clinks to corn and foliage and the cloud creates a natural soft light and gradient of tone – a location portrait photographers ideal.