Saturday I was down in Tunbridge Wells, Kent to photograph WW2 Veteran Wally Fuller (144 Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps).
I'd been contacted by Wally's daughter Sue Moxom after she'd been chatting with Andrew Wright (founder of the Normandy Veterans Family and Friends Facebook Group) who'd said she should get in touch about her Dad being photographed for the 3945 Portraits Project. Speaking with Sue on the phone she said that she 'would have loved for her Dad to have been photographed' but felt it wasn't possible due to him having Alzheimers; also he'd recently had an operation on his face due to a fast appearing growth.
Now it's moments like this I'm 100% convinced that (without realising at the time) I have followed the path that I have being a 'retoucher' first and then progressing into the photography. I also LOVE problem solving photo shoots.
So the solution...set up the lighting camera right with Wally positioned so that his medals are forward to the camera; one side of his face is lit and the other in shadow albeit for a pattern of light under the eye. Once happy I'd 'got the shot' I then mirrored the set up, meaning I moved the light to camera left, asked Wally to stand up whilst I changed the angle of the chair, then asked him to sit in the same-ish pose and again look in the same direction as the first picture. Doing this meant that between all the pictures taken I had pictures of both sides of the face in shadow and pictures where both sides were lit, which then meant that in the retouching I could blend a cheek off one picture to cover the scar / mark on his face (because it was lit the same) ... make sense? Wally was on top form and great company, but had he not been and his Alzheimers was showing itself a little more, I would take more photographs than normal because across all of them I'll capture a great expression, eyes looking great, great position of hands and so on. Then in the retouching I'll simply blend the parts of each picture together to make one portrait.
This ultimately results in the Veteran and the family have a portrait of how their Dad 'really' is and they can look at it now and in the future, and when they do not think of when 'Dad was unwell' but look at it and remember all the good and continue to feel immensely proud.
THIS is why I do what I do!