Thursday, August 30, 2012

Using your car as a ladder to get the photo, mission accomplished - Dallas Morning News (blog)

Dr. Wendy Chung, chief epidemiologist for the Dallas County Health & Human Services, poses for a portrait in front of standing water, a possible breeding ground for mosquitoes. (David Woo/Staff Photographer)

Recently I was assigned to photograph Dr. Wendy Chung, Chief Epidemiologist for the Dallas County Health & Human Services. As I drove to the office the morning of the shoot, I was forced to exit off Interstate 30 to avoid traffic. I was driving down West Commerce Street when I passed some free-standing water on the side of the road.

I called Dr. Chang and asked her if she had time to go with me to a better location to make her portrait instead of her office. She really liked my idea to pose by water. She was also very gracious and understood what I was trying to accomplish. In fact, she said she was wondering what sort of photograph I would have made of her in her office.

As we took the 15-minute drive I was able to learn more about the West Nile virus. After we arrived, I realized my vision of how I wanted to photograph her was not possible. I thought I would pose her by the water so I could see her reflection, but the water was too muddy.

Initially, I photographed her standing next to the water but I was not happy with the background. It was too busy and I lost my morning light. I drove my car close to the water and placed a towel on the roof. I climbed on top, hoping it would not cave in.

Now I had to ask Dr. Chang to look up at me, hoping the sun would not blind her. I asked her to keep her eyes closed until I was ready to shoot. I adjusted my camera to shoot one image at a time instead of a burst of shots to help me with my timing. The background was much cleaner with the high angle. I never thought I would use my car for a ladder, but I did.

Mission accomplished.

Dallas Morning News staff photographer David Woo stands on the roof of his car to take a photograph of Dr. Wendy Chung. (Dr. Wendy Chung)

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