Tuesday, October 16, 2007


I enjoy shooting portraits. They can be very challenging images to make because a good portrait must not only be technically good, but it has to capture the personality of the person portrayed. This is quite difficult to do when working with only the head and shoulders of the subject (the classic portrait). I also find it more difficult to shoot male portraits. I think this is because, despite popular opinion, men are actually more self-conscious of their image and the whole portrait process. Or it may be that I simply have more experience with and relate better to shooting portraits of women.

The two female portraits shot here were photographed on location at a friend's house late in the afternoon of a clear August day. The soft, low light contributed to the warmth of the photograph and provided the soft shadows that help define the portraits. The ladies were posed in a open, grassy area already turned a golden brown brown by Oregon's dry summer. The background was a large stand of evergreens.

A large aperture, a long focal length and a relatively close camera to subject distance was used to minimize the depth of field and throw the background out of focus. This isolated the models to make them stand out from their surroundings. The focus point was on the subject's eyes and a shutter speed was picked that would minimize camera shake for the focal length and sensor size used for the images.

An assistant with a large white reflector provided fill light to soften the shadows even further, and an external flash set to minimum was used to provide a small catchlight in the eyes.

The models were simply asked to look natural. As you can see, one lady smiled for the camera and the other did not. This isn't so much reflective of their personalities, but of their mood during the shoot. They both had fun shooting and were pleased with the resulting photographs, but one model was far more at ease during the shoot than was the other. Neither lady is a professional model (but one has had to put up with my cameras for many, many years).

For the portrait of the couple seen above, many of the same techniques were used, but instead of a reflector, on-camera fill flash was utilized. Posing two people together isn't as easy as shooting one subject at a time, but the couple has a great dynamic and I think this shot works very well for them.

No comments: