Sunday, August 30, 2009

How to Take Great Portrait Photographs



Wonderful Weekend Workshop

My "How to Take Great Portrait Photographs" workshop ran as scheduled, yesterday. We had 6 enthusiastic photographers participating (4 men and 2 women) and a beautiful model on which they could practice their new-found skills of portraiture.

It was a long and intensive day - peppered with plenty of coffee breaks and a lunch of sandwiches and cakes that I lovingly prepared myself early in the morning (actually, I bought the cakes - but I did butter all the bread and carefully craft all of the ham and cheese sandwiches!) but also very relaxed and greatly enjoyed by all.

I gave an hour's refresher course on the theory of portraiture photography - lenses; aperture; compositional rules - all that good stuff, which doesn't have to be boring or as much fun as root canal work - using examples of my own work. I followed this with an explanation of basic lighting theory - basically the differences between direct light, bounced light, reflected light and diffused light - using my assistant as the victim (sorry Sarah, I mean...model ) to show the affects of all those lighting techniques on the model's features.

After a quick lunch (with everyone now starting to get the buzz and chatting animatedly amongst each other) our beautiful model Allise had arrived, and I arranged a low key-lighting setup, with two lights and a black background, and recreated a "Rembrandt Lighting effect", which stunned a lot of people with how simple and beautiful it can be - and the shutters were clicking while everyone took turns to shoot Allise - using a remote transmitter to fire my lights while they roamed around the large studio.

After that, I took everyone outside to a yard next to my studio, where I demonstrated the use of apertures and fill-in flash with outdoor portraiture. You can see part of the unusual set that we used in one of the shots here! Many people thought that this was the best part of the day.

But the best was yet to come, as I arranged a high-key setup back in the studio, using a large Octagonal softbox, another large rectangular soft-box, two background lights and a hair light with a white background. I added a wind machine for good measure - you can see the result of one of my shots from that setup, above.

Seven hours after we started many of the group were still sitting and chatting about the day. And, I was very happy that everyone got what they came for - and more besides, from what I was told!

This workshop will run again Next Month. See here for details.

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