I knew I was in the right place–back in the Precision Camera https://www.precision-camera.com/classroom for some photography basics on portraiture. I knew this because the teacher was talking about some things I’ve known about taking portraits, but many that I didn’t. Week One of the Portraiture class proved to be enlightening and assured me I was making a good investment in my learning. Today I’ll share some of what I learned. I won’t try to share it all because my head’s still reeling from it, but I’ll talk about what I’m sure I understand.
I’ve been doing portraits wrong! Wow! Realized that on day one–thank God. There may still be hope for me as a portrait photographer. My good friends at a local theater have been letting me take their head shots since September. The first time was a huge fiasco. I took everyone’s photo straight on. Yes, full front as we say in theater lingo. I know you’re cringing right now. I am too. So embarrassed.
The second time I took head shots, I felt more confident. I realized some of my mistakes and tried to correct them. I had the actors angle themselves at least. Told them to turn their shoulders towards me and everything. I thought I was doing great. But–I had them angling the wrong direction according to my teacher! I put an example of one of those photos here:
I don’t need two light sources like I’ve been using. I need one light source and one reflector. This is revolutionary to me. The teacher had a large reflector, and he had a clip on a stand for it. I had no idea there was such an apparatus.
It isn’t that I had never seen a reflector before. In fact, I used one in a food photography class while shooting a vending machine sandwich. The bad thing was that the students had to take turns holding the reflector for each other. I’d even read this in photography books–have someone or even the person you’re photographing hold the reflector! Those ideas just bothered me. I don’t want to need an assistant, and I don’t want my model worrying about anything but having a relaxed look on her face! So, I must find and purchase one of those clips. After I buy a reflector, of course.
Fill the frame, . . . with the head. The head shot is about the upper chest and the face! So that’s what needs to be the highlight. If you look at the picture above, you can see too much space above the actor’s head. The teacher of the portraiture class this week even had the students photograph the model again if we left too much space on the top of the photo.
One technique the teacher taught was to focus and recompose. I always focus on the eye because that’s what my teacher, Katelyn James, taught me, but I need to do that and then recompose and fill the frame with the person! So, focus on the model’s eye, lock the focus, then move the camera up slightly, and, in theory, you should have a better head to empty space ratio.
I have a lot to learn. There were new concepts I almost included here, but when I sat down to write about them, I felt unsure of myself. Next week I’ll get further answers to my questions and be able to articulate more of my insights.
Here’s the best photo I took in week one. Yes, I was trying to be creative and asked the model to hold onto her hair. I should have been more specific with her hand placement, I know.