For me, my best shots are always unintended. Sure, I may have set up a shot – metered the light, framed, etc. But then the magic happens – something unexpected. Said another way, I have amazing camera luck. Flights of geese photobomb my shots of mountains at sunset, bees land in the middle of my carefully orchestrated flowers. This one stands out though, for obvious reason.
A couple of my close friends asked me to photograph them breathing fire for National Firebreath Day last Summer. I was hesitant – not only do I shy away from photographing people in general, but there is a lot going on in getting a good firebreather shot. But I’m always up for the challenge so after doing an hour of research to give me a basis for shutter speed and aperture settings – I decided to jump. The worst thing that could go wrong would be that I didn’t get ANY good shots of the two and though they would be disappointed, it happens.
It was certainly a learning curve for both me and my two models. I learned how where to stand to frame them and the fire better (as well as playing around with settings – some showing the performers better, some the flames) – they learned how to try to explain to me what they were going to do so that I COULD get both them and the fire. And then, just playing around, the two of them breathed out a flame in the shape of a heart. I shit you not – this is an almost entirely unedited photo – I just darkened the blacks a bit.
Now this shot is fabulous as is, but as I’m not normally a portrait photographer, I was interested in other applications of the image. After some cleaning up, I was able to remove the fire performers from the image and just have the fire heart.
The most interesting part about this print is how many people think that it is faked. And I get that – I’m an avid Pinterest user and the amount of faked heart photos that I see (sometimes on a daily basis) is just…upsetting. I’m a bit of photo purist – I guess – when I do photo manipulation, I want it to be clear that it’s photo manipulation.
And, of course, once I saw the square photo, I just had to make it into a pillow. Maybe I’ll gift it to the couple someday.