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Duval Scholarship: Ella Batten learns portrait photography with Jo Frances

21st March 2023

In 2022, Ella Batten from Wellington was announced as the second winner of the Duval Scholarship. Supported by Canon, she wins a day of mentoring with a Canon professional photographer and Canon camera equipment.

Ella won the scholarship through her portrayal of people. Ella explained “I’ve always been really interested in portrait photography. I love to express myself through many artistic mediums, but photography is definitely one of my favourites”. Ella added “I was always interested in taking photos as a kid and this followed me through high school until I joined Miss Copley’s photography class in year 12”.

As part of the scholarship, Ella got the opportunity to spend the day with a professional photographer. “I was so excited when I won the scholarship, but ecstatic when I was told that I would spend the day with a professional photographer”.

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Commemorating Louis Duval's passion for photography

The catalyst for the Duval Scholarship began with a very sad but inspiring story of a teenager who had a passion for photography. Louis Duval was a keen mountain biker, but he was also a very talented behind the lens of a camera. Louis’s ambition was to become a wildlife photographer.

The Canon team first met Louis at Crankworx 2020, a mountain biking festival held in Rotorua attended by many sports photographers capturing professional cyclists. Even at an early age, Louis had set his heart on becoming a full-time photographer and travel the world.

Sadly, Louis passed away in 2020 at the age of 15. The Louis Duval Scholarship now provides a promising photographer with the support of industry professionals to help them follow their creative dreams.

Jo Frances shares her tips and techniques

Ella spent the day with Jo Frances one of Canon’s professional photographers who shares Ella’s passion for portrait photography. Jo talked about how she began life as a photographer and what inspired her. “I have been a portrait photographer for 20 years. I started not long before my oldest daughter was born and did the classic trajectory of developing my business while raising small children. I opened my first photography studio in 2004 and have specialised primarily in photographing families ever since.”

She talked about how she particularly enjoyed working with people “I chose portraiture as my skill set is in working with people, partially children and I find my inspiration comes from the interactions with my clients.” With a great combination of experience and a passion portrait photography, Jo spoke about what was planned for the day with Elle and what was involved.

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“We wanted to show Ella some tips and tricks of working with children while exploring a range of lighting and background set-ups. We particularly wanted to play with shooting through glass and foliage. We organised for 3 sets of models to come in so she could practise working with children of different ages and personalities.”

Jo talked further about the tips and techniques that she shared with Ella on the day. Jo began with the more emotional side of the shoot “Seek to understand what your client is wanting to see from the photo and what else you can give them that they potentially didn't even know they wanted. Work with your client to put them at ease and elicit genuine reactions and expressions. Children have limited time attention spans so keep the shoot moving with efficiency.”

“Learn to read the room - does your client need you to bring high energy to the shoot or would they prefer you to be calm and quiet? This is especially true for children.” Essentially, you really need to understand a little more about the person you are shooting to truly capture their spirit.

In terms of technical tips, Jo focused on lighting. “Set up your lighting so it is flattering and easy to tweak while you are with your client. While working with kids, it's important that the lighting does not interfere with the flow of the shoot.”

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Ella Batten's Experience

Ella was glowing after her day with Jo “I learnt so much in the day, learnings that I can take with me, practice and hopefully perfect”.

“The workshop with Jo was beautiful. I loved the environment she worked in and really admired her level of professionalism”. In advance of the workshop, Ella explained her preparation for the day. “Before the workshop Jo asked me to look through her work and pick out some of the photos I was attracted to, so that we could recreate these images whilst teaching me the technical aspects behind the images.”

Ella explained how Jo taught her how to settle the kids she was shooting for the workshop. Jo wanted me to be really comfortable with the kids, so the kids too were comfortable in front of camera. “I learnt how to settle the kids to get the best possible photos.”

Finally, Ella paid tribute to Jo and to the family of young Louis. “I am very grateful to have been given this opportunity. I want to thank the Duval family for this experience as well as the generosity and kindness they have shown me.”

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The Duval Scholarship was born with the sad passing of young Louis Duval. However, the scholarship serves to continue his passion for photography, a legacy that is passed on each year to someone who shares that very same passion.