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  • Writer's pictureAustin Harter

White Wall Portraits with Stephanie


a woman against a white wall wearing tights, jean shorts and tank top kicking her leg towards the camera which blocks her face.
Leica M11_ 1/90 sec @ f/9.5 ISO 64

Working with models can be an exciting and rewarding exchange. The moments you have with the individual will be captured and frozen. Potentially visited and revisited many times over. There's the possibility they could be profoundly memorable or nothing more than a chance for reflection and growth. Sometimes simple white wall portraits can present unexpected challenges which can be more internal than external.


a woman wearing a red top gazing at the camera against a white wall
Leica M11_1/90 sec @f/8 ISO 64

I love portraiture. Working with people and the challenge to capture them honestly brings me moments of joy that impact no one else. Finding an image or images that move me is thrilling and incredibly personal. I've tried sharing my experience with others, yet it doesn't always translate. That's probably not the fault of anyone and actually the individual experience. It is pretty exhilarating when someone even remotely gets it, though.

Recently, I had the opportunity to shoot with a former co-worker, Stephanie. I put out a notice looking to fill some available time shooting with anyone willing to suffer through working in front of my lens. Stephanie said she'd give it a whirl since she'd never done anything like that before.


a smiling woman against a white wall wearing black tights, jean shorts, and a red tank top.
Leica M11_ 1/90 sec @ f/9.5 ISO 64

I get nervous working with first-time models because I often feel the pressure of assumed expectations. My mind gets flooded with questions and feelings of inadequacy. Will I be able to direct them well? Will I live up to their expectations (if they have any)? Truthfully, the fear of failing to deliver and what that might indicate about me initially holds me back. Once we both warm up, all seems to move along much better. Shooting with Stephanie was no different.

Cropped image of a woman against a white wall wearing jean shorts, black leather belt with a snake buckle, and a red tank top and her hands in her pockets
Leica M11_ 1/90 sec @ f/6.0 ISO 64

Female legs wearing black tights and colorful skates against a white wall
Leica M11_1/60 sec @ f/5.6 ISO 64

The more I shoot and work through the unique circumstances of each, I learn a little more about myself and others. I fight the urges that I'm missing moments, not finding the correct poses, or wishing I could handle wardrobe better. As Stephanie and I began to play around, those worries quickly faded. It was easier to shoot together and create some fun images. We worked with one light in a seven-foot umbrella against the white wall in my studio. Simple, not complicated. It shows that creating compelling images isn't just about the gear.


a woman standing in front of a white wall wearing a white top and magenta pants.
Leica M11_ 1/60 sec @ f/8 ISO 64

A black and white image of a woman against a white wall kicking her leg in the air
Leica M11_ 1/60 sec @ f/8 ISO 64

a black and white portrait of a dance woman against a white wall and smiling
Leica M11_ 1/60 sec @ f/11 ISO 64




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