Behind the Image: How Tim Swallow Shot This Effortlessly Fun Portrait

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Taking photos of people can be a volatile but exhilarating art. If the chemistry is right, it will show in the photos. Here, Tim shares his ingredients for a successful photoshoot with a portrait subject.

Words and Photography by Tim Swallow

Actor and good friend Sean Keenan had just come back from Victoria where he had been filming The True History Of The Kelly Gang. Monster Children Magazine wanted to interview him and I had a concept in mind for the shoot. 

I wanted to do something fun and depict ‘the real Sean’. This particular afternoon with Sean was hilarious (maybe even more so than usual). We had been up to the golf course a few times before to wail golf balls into oblivion. The view is amazing and it gave us an activity to do.

Why did you want to take a photo like this?

I wanted to shoot something in the studio, clean and classic, for the editorial, which would sit nicely next to a lifestyle moment full of energy and spontaneity. 

Shot with an Urth CPL Plus+ lens filter.
Shot with an Urth CPL Plus+ lens filter.
Shot with an Urth CPL Plus+ lens filter.

How do you work with your subjects to get a great shot?

I like to make the subject feel great, I always set the vibe with good music, laugh a lot and not take things too seriously. If something isn’t working, I move on, I like to work in short bursts of high energy. This keeps things fresh and exciting. My images are usually taken with strong ‘on camera portraits’ and contrasting ‘candid outtakes’ in mind. I love this balance of imagery and as soon as I figured it out, I milked it. Still milking it ha!

“If something isn’t working, I move on. I like to work in short bursts of high energy.”

What gear did you use to take this photo?

For this shoot I used my Nikon D3s digital and my Nikon N90s film camera. With a set of Nikon prime lenses, Urth CPL Plus+ lens filters and three rolls of Kodak Portra 400.

Shot with an Urth CPL Plus+ lens filter.
Shot with an Urth CPL Plus+ lens filter.

“I love an odd crop, motion blur or unbalanced horizon. These characteristics make me believe the photo is alive.”

Shot with an Urth CPL Plus+ lens filter.

What do you think makes it a great photo?

Spontaneous energy and a reason to question what’s really going on. I love an odd crop, motion blur or unbalanced horizon. These characteristics make me believe the photo is alive.  

Shop the CPL Plus+ filter Tim used to shoot this photo. 

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Tim Swallow

Photographer and Urth Ambassador Tim Swallow has a portfolio that effortlessly navigates between fashion, portraiture and music. Tim draws on his own natural exuberance in creating highly original images that are both refined and filled with spontaneous energy. He has built a client list consisting of fashion and lifestyle publications such as Vogue, Harpers Bazaar, Monster Children, Russh, Stab and Side Note.

2021-02-24T23:53:21+00:00Categories: Photography|