New Tearsheet: UIC Engineering Student Portrait

(c)JerseyStyle_Photography_Abdul Aziz Yakubu__092013_MG_2589

That good-looking gent above is Abdul Yakubu.

He doesn’t just have a good sense of style, either. He’s also a pretty bright young man: Carries a 4.0 GPA at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Engineering.

He’s interning with one of our family of companies based in Skillman, New Jersey, not far from where I live. UIC wanted to do a feature on Abdul and his internship for their online newsletter. They contacted our media relations department about sending out the company photographer to do some portrait of him.

My company doesn’t have a company photographer per se. They have me.

Anyway, I was asked if I could do some portraits of Abdul that we could send to UIC to accompany the newsletter piece. As it happened, I had to go to the Skillman campus anyway to do some campus shots. So, it was going to work out all on one trip.

(c)JerseyStyle_Photography_Abdul Aziz Yakubu_BW_092013_MG_2616

As with any shoot, there were a lot of variables going in:
* I didn’t know what the location looked like.
* I didn’t know what Abdul looked like.
* I didn’t know what type of available light I’d have to work with.
* I didn’t know how much time I’d have with Abdul.

As it turned out, it was a beautiful day and I had loads of available light options and locations to pick from. I did pack my Canon Speedlight 430EX II just in case, and actually used it more for the campus/architectural shots than the portrait session.

Everything else worked out pretty well too. Abdul was a great subject. He was very nice, open to anything. Nigerian by birth, we chatted about his living in Chicago (one of my favorite U.S. cities) and how he liked New Jersey and working for Johnson & Johnson. I moved him around quite a bit, trying out different spots as I wasn’t exactly sure how UIC was going to use the photos and I wanted to give options. I also was sure to leave enough environment on the left and right of the frame, and headroom as well, so that the UIC photo editor could crop as needed (photo editors love when you give the enough to work with)


I do all the shooting, nearly 100 images of Abdul. I get back to the office and my colleague says “Oh, UIC sent me an email with some mock-ups of the types of photos they like you to shoot. I told them no worries, you’d have it covered.”


Luckily, they didn’t want anything too extreme and my plan to give them enough room to crop was spot on. They were on a tight turnaround so I processed my 10 favorites and sent them out to the editor. Even included a B&W version because a) I liked how it looked and b) who knows, they may use it. Options..always give options.

Earlier this week, they sent me an email with a link to the piece online. Seems like they were happy with the images (Neat! They used two!) and it’s a good article about Abdul.

How one photo was used on the website landing page

How one photo was used on the website landing page

An alternate shot used inside with the article.

An alternate shot used inside with the article.

Did I make some mistakes? Yep. (underexposed some, cluttered background, didn’t realize his expression on many looked funny)

Did I hopefully learn from these mistakes? Well, time will tell.

As I said on Saturday, being a photographer isn’t just putting a camera to your eye. It’s about problem solving, thinking ahead, figuring out the scene all while non-verbally communicating to your subject “Yeah, I know what I’m doing.”

It’s one thing to shoot models at a workshop, where you can fiddle and fidget and fix and take your time. But when you have a subject in front of you and the clock is winding down and your flash isn’t firing and the sun is just brutal and the sweat starts to drip down the side of your face…that’s working photography.

It sure ain’t taking photos of kids and cornfields. But it WAS fun and I’m happy with the result.

Interns today are the CEO’s of tomorrow. Maybe I’ll work my way up to shoot some CEO’s too.

© Mark V. Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | All Rights Reserved 2013


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