Hooray for Hairograhy! — Portraits With Stand-up Comedian Charlotte Madden

Charlotte has been all over the Brighton & Hove comedy circuit with her zingy take on
pets, parents and partners. Alliteratively speaking, portraits were a natural next step.

Portrait photography and I go wa-a-ay back. All the way to high-school and a Zenit E SLR camera gifted by attentive friends for my birthday. I still have that sturdy USSR-made machine, and swoon over its gorgeous Helios lens so good at painting a shimmering swirly bokeh. The camera came from a local clocksmith who had lovingly cleaned and oiled the lens (I hear a no-no), all the while setting me a cheeky challenge: placing the aperture ring the other way round, so it's squinting at f2 and wide open at f16. Or maybe it had always been mislabelled... Either way, I'm strangely appreciative of that, as once I'd wrapped my mind around this peculiar scale, the Exposure Triangle of Sadness never bedevilled me again.

For this shoot, however, we needed to stay quick and crisp and digital. Lovely comedian friend Charlotte had approached me to do some whimsical portraits to use in posters and across social media. We agreed that the vibe should match her on-stage comedic style: confident, elegant and current. She has a great taste for wall pigments and colour combos, so I had to do little but gather equipment and brush up on my lighting magic. Since stills photography has only ever been a hobby, I'd gotten used to just shooting in natural light. (I love the dramatics of natural light). Luckily, pro portrait photographer Micheal Cheetham was kind enough to lend me his flashgun, and the rest (modifiers, stands etc) came from my video kit. 

Once set, we put on some Renaissance and just had fun with it. Hair choreography aka hairography was the word of the day. The physical space was a bit limited, so there wasn't room to try much body movement, and with only one flashgun it got a bit tricky shadow-wise, but we still ended with some poppy images, framed extra wide for future cropping. Now I'm one proud friend every time I see them on stand-up comedy line-ups.

You can follow Charlotte at @charlottemaddencomedy

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