You may remember a post from a month or two back titled A Deeper Look at the Value of Family Portraits, where I told the beautiful and heartbreaking story of Eula and Lloyd (pictured above).
The quick recap is this: Eula (left) suffers Alzheimer’s Disease, and Lloyd has a heart condition. One week after this portrait was taken, Eula didn’t recognise her husband of 64 years, and two weeks afterwards, Eula was admitted to a specialist nursing home and the two were separated for ever.
I wanted to revisit this story on today’s blog, because I recently submitted one of their family portraits for judging at the Australian Professional Photography Awards. While preparing for the Awards, I spent several hours trawling through my family portraits from the previous twelve months.
After chatting with one of my mentors and my wife, I realised that the image of them laughing together was one of my stronger portraits and told such a beautiful story I simply had to enter it. It also represented my own philosophy on love, relationships, and having fun as often as possible.
Here’s a reminder of how this portrait originally looked:
I looked really closely at the portrait, because each image to be judged only gets around 5 to 10 seconds to make a significant impact on the judges. After that, it needs to be beautifully retouched and printed, and everything should support the message the image is trying to convey.
I wanted this portrait to be as powerful as possible. With this in mind, the couple’s expressions are the key, so I darkened the background plants and foliage, and made their faces stand out more. I also felt that the image should speak to their history as a couple, and when they were younger photographs would have been in black & white or sepia toning, so I converted the shot to sepia.
Lastly I enhanced the contrast on their faces and hands, to highlight their wrinkles and age-spots and show really obviously the many years of life experiences these two have navigated together.
The finished image is below, and was awarded a Silver Award in the Family Portraits category at the Australian Professional Photography Awards, with a score of 80 points out of 100.
I love this portrait, and I gave a fine art print of the image to Janet – Eula and Lloyd’s daughter. Janet loves it (it’s her favourite image of her Mother & Father) and got teary when she saw it. It’s moments like this I really love my work. :)