I was asked to complete a photo campaign for YSSN back in March of this year. The client wanted the photographs to really showcase the people of all backgrounds that they help throughout the community.
We set up with permission in a local Tim Hortons. The reason being is we wanted to create images similar to the meetings the staff of YSSN have with their clients on a daily basis. I wanted to create some honest images which would show a lot of real and not so staged emotion (even if they were at times).
For the dynamic of the shots, I wanted the images to be warm and inviting but be very “crisp”. To achieve this I used various lights and modifiers inside the coffee shop.
I was careful to balance the brightness of the outdoors to maintain certain details. While still giving a natural look similar to what the human eye would perceive.
Almost all of these editorial style images were shot with a very large aperture. The reason for this, was to pinpoint the viewer’s focus.
By creating a large amount of bokeh, it really adds a perceived amount of increased sharpness to the viewer. It blurs the background giving a warm and almost comfortable effect.
With the group shots, I almost always want to pull one person forward. It adds to the dynamic of the individuals. And most importantly, the image itself.
For all of these images we are using real people. I think it is really important. We could use models or actors, but you never get that realness in the eyes that you are looking for. Long story short, use real people.
Most of the images simulate views from other tables. You are going to see shoulders in the foreground, heads in the background. I wanted to really simulate that coffee shop experience, and the images to match. There are even diagonal ones, similar to a look you might take over your shoulder.
I never work too hard on staging my subjects. You just don’t get those natural moments by telling someone how to stand and hold themselves. Of course, I will guide them, but the best images come from backing off and letting the scene just evolve.
From there website: “York Support Services Network is a community-based agency that offers a range of case management and community crisis services, to support individuals with a developmental disability and/or a serious mental illness. YSSN also provides services within the Children’s Services Sector, offering Children’s Case Coordination.”
YSSN is located in the York Region of Ontario. You can find out more about them here.