Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Camera A Little Lower, Zoom A Bit More, Make The Light Just Right - Getting To The Perfect Portrait

God Morning Everyone,

Home Sweet HomeThings are beginning to settle down much to the relief of LaDawn and myself.  We're actually home for the Summer, but I know that won't last long.  I think we were both born under wondering stars. 

This evening I have a engagement session with a young couple and I’m looking forward to the shoot. I photographed the young lady's Bat Mitzvah a number of years ago so it will be good to be working with the family again.  I've more frequently receiving those calls - what an honor. 

For the new and aspiring photographers reading this blog, it speaks to not just the high level of photography we deliver but also to our great customer service and bending over backwards for our clients all the time.  You know, the clients remember - and they call back even years later.  It's the only way to run your business.

Camera A Little Higher, Zoom A Bit More, Make The Light Just Right - Getting To The Perfect Portrait

Last week was such a wonderful experience in Sedona working with my six fellow photographers to capture the best images of our beautiful models.  I just really enjoyed the entire experience.  In today's post I wanted to run through what I was thinking as I built to my final image.  I think this post will give you sort of a roadmap to how I create, light, and compose to get to that best image.

Here is my 4 step plan to get to the perfect portrait image:

1- Survey the location.  What does it offer in terms of compositional possibilities?  How is the lighting?  Can I get a nice loop light on my subject's face?  Are there any distracting elements in the background I need to deal with?

Let's look at the first image.  This corridor at Tlaquepaque looks perfect for creating some very nice portraits.

0001- Perfect PortraitsIMG_2183

The long look down the corridor gives me an easy vanishing point in my composition.  We've got good directional lighting coming in to give us that dimensional feel I want in my portraits. The background could prove a bit problematic but by paying attention to the subject's position in the frame, I should be able to solve that issue.

2- Determine how you want to photograph the subject then find the light and place the subject in the best position to accommodate the lighting.

I'm thinking I want just a simple full length portrait, modified 2/3's view of the face, with a "C" or "S" curve in the composition of the subject's body.  Take a look at the next image

0003- Perfect PortraitsIMG_2195I'm looking to create a simple yet elegant portrait of our model. I turned her body away from the light, but then turned her head towards the light.  This first pass looks pretty darn good.

I've still got to deal with some extraneous background elements but that will be no problem as I'll describe in the next step.

3- The subject is where she needs to be for soft, beautiful lighting on her.  OK, now you need to check to see how the background looks.  Is there anything in the background that would distract from the image.

Take a look at the above image again.  What do you see?  It's that lighting fixture hanging from the ceiling which needs to hidden in some manner.  I'm thinking a little lower camera angle will do the trick - I'll just hide it behind our subject.  In this next image you can see that hiding the lamp worked like a charm.

0005- Perfect PortraitsIMG_2208

4- Decide if there is anyway you may want to enhance the image even more. I'm thinking, "What happens if.... I backlight the subject?"

Check out the last image below.  After a few tries I got just what I was looking for.

0006- Perfect PortraitsIMG_2219The backlighting adds a nice dramatic feel to the image.  Don't get me wrong here, the backlighting was not necessary to my finished image.  I very much enjoy the second last image posted above.

LaDawn and others like to say that I work forward to getting my final image by making slight tweaks along the way till I get it perfect.  I think that is true.  I shot a much greater number of images than you see here.  The tweaks may have been a further refinement of camera position, lighting, expression, etc.  but all the smaller tweaks resulted in some very nice images.

I hoped you enjoy the walk-through today.  Like I mentioned yesterday, it's the little things that count.  We need to be constantly aware of those small things that we can adjust to get to our final result.  It's that difference that makes the difference in what kind of photographer you aspire to be.


Hey gang, that's it for me today.  The weather has changed and it's begun to rain.  I sure hope we don't get rained out this evening ;~). Anyway, be sure to check back tomorrow for another episode of Business Day Thursday.  It will be a good one.

See ya' then,  David

1 comment:

  1. David,

    Believe it or not I think you may have missed one thing! Look at her left armpit in the last photograph. Why did I see this - because I did something very similar and did a little photoshop work to 'fix' it. Now I look for that and also when I do profiles I look for stray hair that appear to be coming out of the nose.