Had a photo assignment today from Scripps Howard News Service (SHNS) in Washington, D.C. It's been a while since I've accepted a news assignment and it was a real kick knocking out a few environmental portraits for SHNS. Scripps Howard owned the Rocky Mountain News (may she rest in peace), which was the last newspaper I worked at. So, it was nice to take on an assignment from them.
News portraits are a different animal than traditional or even lifestyle photos. News portraits must convey something about the story they accompany, even if it's just mood. In this case, I was creating a portrait to accompany a story about identity theft (is there anyone who doesn't fear that happening to them?). My subject, Joanna Saentz, went through an awful ordeal and came out the other end fighting. Among her many pursuits, she is now an advocate and support person for others who are going through the same nightmare, helping others get their stolen lives back. Her story is featured on the "America's Most Wanted" website, if you're interested.
Joanna, by her own admission, has a bubbly, bright, optimistic personality. Unfortunately, a bright, bubbly photo is not really what the story called for. This is a serious subject and Joanna struggled for eight years before finally tracking down the woman who had stolen her identity. Luckily for me, Joanna understood that representing the story was more important in this situation than representing her upbeat personality.
My intent was to create a photograph with a sense of vulnerability, without representing Joanna as a powerless victim. You can judge for yourself whether or not I achieved that goal. I will tell you that the folks at SHNS, as well as Joanna, were pleased with the final photos so I'm going to chalk this up as another day in the win column!