Erika I’Anson » You Can Sleep When You're Dead: Blog by Colleen Miniuk

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May 182016

Photo copyright Erika I’Anson

I shot this photo in a tunnel at a park back home in Phoenix. My younger brother, my neighbor, and I were exploring, looking for fun places to shoot. We came across this tunnel and suddenly we knew this was the perfect spot. So first I took pictures of Hannah, my neighbor. After about 20 minutes, we switched and I started taking photos of Nicholas, my brother. I was pretty happy with the shots we got, but I knew we could get something more fun. My brother and I have known Hannah her whole life – our parents have been friends since high school.

I turned to them and said “I know this might sound extremely awkward… but can you give Hannah a piggyback ride?” They both looked at me like a was crazy. I practically had to beg the two of them to at least pretend they would pose for me, which I just kept getting responses like “No, she’s like my sister!” Finally, after promising to buy them food after, they were willing to pose for me. Many of the results were truly posed, smiling and looking straight into the camera. This is one of the few shots that was just capturing the moment. They were making silly faces, and I think it shows their true personalities. That is why I love this photo so much.

The technical aspects behind this image were: Nikon D3300, 18mm, f/5.0 and at a shutter speed of 1/250. I bumped up the ISO to 800, because I like the grainier feel of photography that I tend to use as my style. There was a shoot-through umbrella at eye level about 3 feet in front of them. They were also backlit by the light coming through the end of the tunnel. In post processing, I messed with the white balance to achieve this blue-green base color, which matches my brother’s eyes and makes them pop a bit so you are instantly drawn to them. I also boosted up the contrast and clarity, to give it even more of that grainy street type of look. Other than that, I got cleaned up a few blemishes, but mostly left the skin untouched.

This is not only one of my favorite photos, but theirs as well. Portraits are what I shoot the most, and being able to have fun with it and give it a creative twist is what I love most about it. Although many don’t like the grain that comes along with a high ISO, I actually like it and don’t mind the criticism that comes along with using this style. I feel like it makes the image feel more real, and doesn’t make it seem like I went crazy with the airbrush tool. My style is unique, but it is what makes my portraits different from all the others.

About the Photographer:

My name is Erika I’Anson and I am a photography major at NAU. My passion for photography truly began my freshman year of high school when I took a Digital Communications class. I fell in love instantly with photography and graphic design while learning to use Photoshop and Illustrator. Coming to NAU, I made the decision to focus on photography and have since realized this is what I would like to do for the rest of my life. I mainly shoot portraits- in studio and on location- but I enjoy creative shots and landscapes as well. Oh, and my dog.

To read more about the Northern Arizona University “Behind the Image: Guest Blogger” project on our blog, please read the introduction at take a minute to leave your thoughts and constructive comments in the Comment section below – Erika would love to hear from you!