Ridgway Photographer Aims to Capture Subjects’ Essence in Portraits
by Gus Jarvis
Sep 24, 2009 | 1838 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
UNIQUELY PERSONAL SENIOR PHOTOS, like this one of Ridgway High School senior Samantha Willits, are photographer Rich Durnan’s specialty. (Courtesy photo)
UNIQUELY PERSONAL SENIOR PHOTOS, like this one of Ridgway High School senior Samantha Willits, are photographer Rich Durnan’s specialty. (Courtesy photo)
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RIDGWAY – Capturing the uniquely personal essence of each senior who graduates from high school in a photo is no easy task.

But Ridgway photographer Rich Durnan works hard to do just that, in his photos of that final “senior moment” for graduating seniors and their families at this milestone in their lives.

Ridgway mainstay Durnan, a professional photographer since 1996 who has lived and worked in Ridgway since 2000, said the work he is doing right now with customized senior photos relies heavily on his experience gained doing advertising work in natural and artificial light situations, and brings that business skill-set to seniors who want a custom photo that shows who they truly are during this time in their life.

“What I envision with senior portraits is something custom and something special,” Durnan said in an interview last week. He said that he wants to give students and affordable alternative to the standard school photo with an artificial background. “I am here to provide a custom and meaningful experience to kids and seniors.”

Durnan incorporates environmental backdrops with his senior subjects – something that speaks to who that particular individual is and what they are about.

Sometimes, “that means pulling elements of the environment into the portrait and anything relevant to that person,” he said. For example, he recently shot a senior photo of a student who grew up on an area ranch. He was able to find a shot for that senior photo that encapsulates the senior as she is today, but with the backdrop of the ranch she loves so much.

Durnan’s senior photos can feature whatever the subject holds near and dear to their heart.

“Seniors usually have pretty strong interests and personalities,” he said. “Why not incorporate that into the picture? If someone is really into skateboarding, why not go down to the skate park to find a shot? Or if someone is really into skiing, we can find a way to do that,” Durnan said. “The idea here is to make a great photo of that person and get all the elements in their life into it.”

Durnan provides tips to students and seniors on his blog at www.richdurnanphoto.com on how to best capture the custom and individual portraits they want. He said the first and most important thing subjects should do is meet with the photographer before the actual photos will be shot, to brainstorm about which elements will best capture everything they hope will be in the portrait.

Another benefit, the photographer added, is that a pre-shoot meeting helps ensure everybody is comfortable.

“After you meet for the first time, you will already know each other and there will be more of a comfort level,” Durnan said. “I am trying to capture your essence, in a sense, and for me to be able to do that, it is best if you aren’t guarded. The best way to do that is to know me.”

While Durnan said he doesn’t consider himself any sort of fashion consultant, he does provide tips on dressing for a portrait on his blog – for example, horizontal stripes can be unflattering, and neutral colors area always best. He recommends subjects bring a variety of outfits for different settings.

Durnan can be reached at 970/318-0231 or by visiting www.richdurnanphoto.com. More tips for taking that perfect senior portrait can be found on his blog.
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