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Narrative Character Portrait: A Narrative Character Portrait by Rayna Mahnken (2015)

My story is about a little girl who finds a picture book with stars in the sky. She lives in a light polluted city, and has never seen stars before. Being young and naïve, she attempts to cut out paper stars of her own to put in the sky, only to have them fall to the ground. In her disappointment she throws away her book, but then notices a box of Christmas lights. She sets up the lights in her room and creates her own stars. In my photo, I have captured the moment after she begins cutting out the stars and is wondering at the mystery these small shapes hold.

I used some lighter colored makeup to hide my subject's blemishes (freckles, mostly) and make her look younger. I kept that makeup to a bare minimum. I used a plain construction paper with a star cut out and a blanket for props, the cut out an essential part of the story and the blanket helping to show that she's relaxing in her room. The low camera angle helps show her as she is lying on the ground, a comfortable position many find comfortable for reading. Some problems I encountered while shooting were with some of the lights not going off when I shot a photo. This caused a lot of interesting lighting effects, and I solved it by taking multiple shots and adjusting the lights the best I could. Another problem was that my subject is a great deal older than my character, but by having her lie on the ground and have a blanket with her it helped to make her look younger. There was also a lot of debris visible on the backdrop, since it was black, but using the healing tool in Photoshop I was able to fix that fairly quickly.
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