Womanwise 08

I wish I could write it off to nerves, but Wendy Fitzwilliam is one of the very few genuinely beautiful women who is capable of putting a red blooded male at ease. And I know that. When she wrote for the Guardian, I was a contact point for her when it came to sending the column in and ensuring that e-mail issues and the occasional virus problem were quickly sorted out.
Regardless of where I have met her ever since, she has never failed to generously acknowledge me, even while surrounded by fans and admirers far more personally emphatic than I.

So when I dipped into my camera bag to find the Canon flash trigger and realised that I’d left it back at the home office, I ground my teeth and realised I’d just been careless. While I futzed around with the tools I had at hand, young Ailan was making his presence felt, first with a hula hoop and then more directly.

There’s one thing I’ve realised about photographing children, it’s that you can’t bullshit them. Cooing, ingratiating behaviour invariably leaves them bored or irritable. I’ve always had the best luck being straight up with wee ones, so I offered advice on his hip spin for his hula moves and on putting the right spin on the hoop to get it to roll along the floor. By the time Wendy was calling for him, we were counting to six, hands upraised, one finger flipping up after another. I like to think that helped with his expressions during the photo session.

During that time, I planned a strategy to make the best use of the gear that I had at hand. The STE2 trigger allows me to use both strobes on lightstands, but one of them was going to have to be on the camera for this shoot. I put the 580 EXII on the camera, dialing the output down by one and a third stops; bouncing it off the mercifully white ceiling with a call card attached for forward fill with a rubber band (the built in fill card only works for horizontal shots).

The other strobe was on full power (it doesn’t dial down or up) as the main light. This was the first of the photos that I did with the Canon 100mm macro, which gives glorious bokeh (the out-of-focus blur behind the subject).
I was fortunate enough to be the first photographer from a newspaper to be allowed to photograph Wendy at her home.
“I don’t really think of you as media,” Wendy said during our setup call.
“Well, actually,” I responded, “I’m more of a large.”

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