Renae and I set out to make this photograph because we were experimenting with a bunch of different black and white looks for an upcoming annual report for which we were preparing. We would be photographing different business people in different locations and the two constants would be the lighting design and the chair.
When we are gearing up for a large project I tend to test out a number of different options well before the shooting dates so we know what we're aiming for at the outset.
It always seems to me that getting the relationship between the subject and the background is the hardest part of any portrait shoot. If the background is too de-focused it begins to look detached from the person; almost as if the person had been dropped into a second image of a backdrop.
The design aspect that gives me the most pleasure is the balance of lights and darks through a frame.
The final piece of the puzzle with this project was the printing and toning of the image. I used a Portragon under the enlarging lens to partially blur the corners of the image and to reduce overall contrast throughout the image. It's lost technology now (for the most part) because the Portragon depends on the optical process of enlarging to impart its look.
I marvel at how clear and uncluttered our shooting intentions were at the time and the amount of craft we tried to bring to bear...