Senior Portraits of a Boy, a Mansion, a Steinway
Before having his Senior Portraits taken, Chuck stopped by the studio for our suggested planning session and put it to good use. Together we talked about his different outfits to wear, plus items of personal interest that he would like to include in some of his senior portraits. What was exciting and unique was the plan Chuck and his mom had made plans to have his senior portraits take at a mansion in their hometown of Lexington IL, that is just down the road from Bloomington Normal.
So on a cold, gloomy overcast March day, I headed to Lexington to find the mansion and meet up with Chuck and his mom. When I arrived at the mansion, I thought this place is huge! It was so big that I did not know which entrance to go to. It just so happened that the gate I had pulled up to was the side entrance, and then when the two of them arrived, we went around to the front. This is a stunning, beautiful 1898 Victorian Mansion that is in impeccable condition. When I walked in the door, the heat felt really good on a cold day. As I carried my equipment case inside, I noticed the interior was in such exquisite condition that I was not sure where to set my camera bag. I did not want to scratch the beautiful wood floors or take a chance on dirtying a piece of the beautiful Victorian furniture. Finally I decided on a safe spot and set my cameras down to let them warm up a bit while we explored the three or four floors for some of the many locations to photograph Chuck. There was a plethora of places. This mansion was a photographer’s dream!
To start off, I had Chuck put on his suit and tie while I set up lighting where I could take some traditional portraits of him for the yearbook. He had a really sharp looking suit and tie picked out to wear, and I thought it really made him look collegiate. There was no need for any studio backgrounds. I selected a location in the dining room where there would be a dark background. With my fast 1.4 aperture on my 85mm lens, I was able to easily throw the background way out of focus. It looked real nice, I thought.
Next I moved Chuck over to the curved stairway leading to the second floor. The beautiful natural wood tone of the stairs, the railing, and the wainscoting were calling out to me, and the curving lines in the stair railing and the wainscoting curving up the wall made an interesting composition with Chuck standing in front of them.
Still in his suit and tie, from there, we walked into the parlor room where there was a six or seven foot long grand piano awaiting us. Upon looking, I saw that it is a Steinway. Color me impressed! Now I am afraid of not only scratching it, but also putting so much as a fingerprint on it. I was content to let Chuck get his fingerprints on the Steinway while I stepped back and photographed him. The curved lines of a grand piano with the lid propped up are some of the most distinguishing, iconic lines to photograph. In the many years of my career, I have photographed people many times with a grand piano, but in my memories, this is the first time photographing someone with a Steinway. I savored the moment and did not want to quit. Maybe I had finally arrived.
Moving right along…I had Chuck change into his next outfit, a black dress shirt and dress slacks and we moved upstairs. Upstairs is a library room that we used next. I photographed Chuck with his many award medals that he has won. Chuck excels in Math, and he has won these awards competing on the Lexington High School Math team competitions.
Then we moved up to the third floor where I found some North light coming in through the huge windows. We took some casual photographs of Chuck on a big leather sofa and a stairway banister leading up to the third floor.
After that, I had him change into jeans and his letter jacket and we stepped outside onto the front porch. Chuck is a starting letterman on the Lexington Track team and the Lexington Basketball team, and he brought a basketball that I used to photograph him with. We photographed a number of poses of Chuck with the basketball and his letter jacket before changing again.
Chuck changed into his bright red Alabama University hoodie and we went back outside for some more senior portraits. After graduating from Lexington High School, Chuck will be attending the University of Alabama with plans to major in Math. Since it does not snow in Alabama, and most people there have never experienced snow, we had to get some outside in the snow while wearing his University of Alabama outfit, just so he could show everyone there what snow in Illinois looks like! There was still plenty of snow accumulated on the front steps of the mansion, so we photographed some senior portraits there in front of the mansion. Then we moved to the side yard, where there was quite a bit of snow. I took many photographs there with Chuck standing in the snow and some of him sitting in the snow.
There are many favorites of mine from Chuck’s senior portrait session. There are, of course, the senior portraits in front of the Steinway, and there is the one is where he is standing in front of the mansion and you can see the front of this beautiful, stunning mansion, and it is right here in Central Illinois,.
It was a great to meet you and to photograph your Senior Portraits, Chuck. I hope you are thrilled with them, and I would also like to know what the people you meet in Alabama say when they see the Illinois snow.
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Location: Lexington, IL.