portrait photography

Fashion Week – Day 1: Background/Setting is Key

One of the elements that adds impact to the picture in the previous post is the totally cool background. I chose it after driving around Queens, New York for three hours – checking out different backgrounds and settings for the model shoot.

The "hip" wall was perfect for the shoot, because it complemented the "hip" model. What's more, the wall was in the shade, which made controlling the light easier than had the wall been in harsh sunlight.

Positioning the model in just the right spot took some time, because I wanted the viewer's attention to go directly to the model's face.

You see my basic lighting setup in the behind-the-scenes photograph. Basic lighting is tomorrow's topic.

Explore the light,

P.S. Here are three more examples of how the background/setting complements the subject. Your assignment: Find a background that complements the subject, take a shot, and post a link in the Comments section of this post.

I guess I have a thing for graffiti!

Emphasize An Important Element In A Photograph

On the left is a screen grab of the Rembrandt painting, "The Man With the Golden Helmet." On the right is a portrait of my dad.

My friend, Steve Inglima, pointed out a similarity (of sorts): Yes, the faces are important, but other elements – the helmet and the hands – are strong and obviously important elements in the painting/photograph.

Rembrandt wanted the viewer to notice the exquisite detail in the helmet - truly a work of art.

I want viewers of my photography to notice my dad's hands - which were at one time very strong and powerful - weak and frail at the time I took the picture. I remember many times when he leaned over my shoulder to help me with my homework – at the desk at which I am sitting in the picture below. (Yes, that's me! My dad took the picture with a 4x5-inch Linhof camera.)

When composing a portrait, consider elements in the scene – other than the face – that can help you to tell a story. You might be surprised at how many different stories you can tell in a single sitting.

Explore the light,

P.S. If you like photo philosophies like this, as well as tech info on photographing people, check out my book, Face to Face.

Hudson River Photography Workshops Final Day: Studio Shoot

Today at the Hudson River Photography Workshops we had a cool guest instructor, Vered Koshlano, co-author of my Studio and On-Location Lighting Secrets book. In my den, we set up a single Westcott Spiderlite in a soft box and a Westcott reflector (to fill in some of the shadows created by the single light). The exercise: create beautiful studio lighting with a very simple set up.

One of the keys to this type of portrait: don't aim the light directly at the subject. Rather, angle it slightly in front of and away from the subject so that a nice soft and even light illuminates the subject.

Our model was Bella Paula. Vered brought some props, we added some photo know-how, and all the students made great images.

Good fun and learning for all.

Explore the light,