I took my photo group this week to Herring Island in Melbourne. It’s a small island, very natural and largely untouched that is accessed by a little punt across the Yarra River. When I arrived we had about 60 attendees and I thought, it’s a cloudy day and not a lot to do on this island, maybe we can do an impromptu portrait lesson.
So we all congregated and I took the participants step by step through a free 30 minute lesson on how to build a portrait. We had the lovely Vanessa who volunteered as the guinea pig.
Follow this step by step sequence when you next try to photograph a portrait – observe the horizontal portrait of Vanessa below as you read through.
1. Find the background first – simple and aesthetically pleasing backgrounds are a winner
2. Check the lighting – smooth lighting out of full sun
3. Place your subject – choose where they will be positioned in relation to your background and lighting
4. Establish correct exposure – take a reading and test shot via your shoot flow
5. Connection with subject – what you give them is what they’ll give you so relax, chat and smile
6. Decisive moment – when they give you something beautiful, it’s worth the click
Canon Mark 2, 50mm L Series lens
ISO100 F1.2 1/2500 sec
And finally, the difference between an OK portrait and a goodie, is remember to keep reminding your subject to relax.
See the difference between the two pictures below?
In the left one Vanessa is all psyched up to be ‘photographed’ – which means oh crap now I have to perform in front of the camera.
Er…no. Can you see the tension in her neck, jaw and forced smile in the left image below?
I want to make a beautiful capture of Vanessa, something that makes you go awwwww. Whilst her posing was perfect with the wonky shoulders, the off-centre feet and the feather in her hands, she just needed that reminder to relax in her body, which she did, and to lean towards the camera a little bit.
See the difference?
Suddenly we see something that’s really Vanessa, and has that lovely ‘moment held’ feel to it.
Thank you Vanessa!!!!! You were wonderful – and love that hat too.
Outstanding effort, B