Christian Rudman is a volunteer photographer for The Austin Stone Story Team. He fulfilled a two-year residency with Story Team before serving on staff for a year and a half as a Campus Production Manager. He recently moved to Portland with his wife and son to be closer to family. This is his first editorial-style shoot for Story Team.
Story Team: Can you talk about how your friendship with the story subject affected the shoot?
Christian: It made things significantly easier in terms of connecting—being able to ask him to tell his story outside of a normal interview process—and I think it made him more comfortable allowing me to get the shots I was desiring to get. I believe he was also able to be a little more vulnerable with me, so I think the rapport might have been built a lot quicker than it normally could with someone you don’t know. This wouldn’t be considered a prescription for being friends with every subject, but it definitely made things easier in this case.
Story Team: Why did you decide to shoot on film?
Christian: I have been wanting to do more film shoots. I’ve recently been using a medium format film camera that I borrowed from a friend, so I gave it a go on that. Film helps slow down the process a bit more, so it was fun to refine my shots with my digital [camera] as I started getting into the shoot to make sure that I got it in one take on the film camera. I would frame, expose, light, and work out poses with my digital, then swap the camera on the tripod and get the shot on film. There were only ten shots on each roll of film, and I only shot two rolls. I did one scene on one roll and the other on the second, with three different poses on each roll. That way, I’d have choices and alternates for each pose.
Story Team: Do you use any verbal cues to elicit emotional responses from your subjects?
Christian: I’ll ask them to think about something that I heard in their story, and then ask them to reflect on it if I think the reaction might suit the mood I’m looking for in the photographs. Drawing expressions out of people is something I really struggle with. My default tends to almost be asking them to be expressionless, because I’m looking for micro expressions—if that makes sense.
Story Team:What other technical aspects of this story were different given the editorial approach?
Christian: Lights were definitely different than normal. I prefer to utilize lighting, so I felt more at home during this shoot, which was really nice. I had a lot more time to fiddle with exposure and fuss over light falloff than I would on an ambient lighting journalistic style. Posing was obviously different than normal, as well as the structuring of the scene (taking objects out of frame, fussing with drapes, etc.). It’s just a totally different method of shooting.
Feature image by Christian Rudman