Women in Construction Week

Women in Construction Week – Portraits

After all my years in business, it’s still thrilling to get an email inquiring about availability. And when that email request involves environmental portraiture on a construction site, I’m as happy as one can get. Well, maybe a perfect 300 score in bowling is better but not by much. (my best is 284)


Direct and sunny or diffused and soft, this ambient light is the light you work with. As my skilled brethren will attest, working early or late day is preferable, the sun angle relative to the subject lends itself easier to drama and emotion, characteristics that keep eyeballs looking. Overcast is OK too but ideally it’s a mixture of direct sunlight softened with a bit of atmosphere, cloudy bright if you will, that’s hands down my favorite to work with:

The Request

It has been and continues to be an awesome experience creating media with the right emotional tone and focus. One of my clients at Walsh sent the email and it was specific: portray women on the job in celebration of Women in Construction week. From a business perspective an SECP (self-employed creative professional) understands what makes them unique and strives to illustrate this at opportune times. For this assignment I did something different, a lighting technique mixing sun and artificial light in order to craft images that speak to empowerment:

The Speedlight

A speedlight, the flash unit for this type of work is set to be more powerful than, be equal to or less than the brightness of the ambient sun. Sunlight was clear bright so I set about altering the relationship between subject, color and environment. The resulting photography enhances the sense of distance between a close subject and a receding background. The blending point for the day was set at -1, lowering the intensity:


My attempts to light subjects with backlit sun and flash fill to heighten detail are not always practical: variables in these lively environments are many. The danger is real but I’m safe and always find ways to succeed:

To the women do not work in the field enduring dirt, loud noise and heavy machinery, we celebrate you as well. Among other responsibilities these women run offices, engineer plans, ensure safety and manage finance:

To see more of my work: impromptu and candid

As always thanks for reading.


Related Images:

Michael Stern

My work depicts, appreciates and honors the people who build. Their specialized equipment and stunning challenges are marvels I behold and get paid to interpret. Hope you enjoy this site.
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