6 Easy Tricks for Shooting Innovative Portraits

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Courtesy of Clay Blackmore

How do you keep your photos looking fresh after years of shooting? Clay Blackmore has been taking professional portraits for more than twenty years, yet his clients will tell you that his photos are anything but stale. In his creativeLIVE course, Pose It, Light It, Love It, Clay shares some of his tips for creating innovative portraits:

Shoot through something. Natural frames and transparent surfaces give your images depth. Clay often has his models lay under a sheet of plexiglass for a distinctive look. Sprinkle leaves or flower petals on the plexiglass to create a foreground. Steam the glass up to make it look like your model is in the tundra. There possibilities are nearly endless.

Roll them up. Clay changes up his shoots by rolling his models up in light paper backdrops in a style that he calls “the burrito.” Not only do his subjects have fun, but the soft light reflected on them from all sides makes for gorgeous portraits.

Clay shooting on the creativeLIVE rooftop.

Use reflections. During your shoot, look for sources of reflections. Puddles, metallic surfaces, and glass are just a few surfaces that add to your compositions.

BTS-Clay-Blackmore-Day1-7Light from behind. Positioning light behind a subject sets him or her off from the background and adds a more professional look to your photos.

Keep moving. You can dramatically change a photo simply by walking around your subject to get different viewpoints with same light and pose. Take several portraits from a wide range of angles to see which perspective looks best.

Shoot into the light. Turn your light setup around. Try putting your subject directly in front of a large softbox and shooting into it. This creates a bright backlit background.

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Courtesy of Clay Blackmore

Bounce the light. Clay encourages his students to “play bumper pool” by bouncing light around the frame. Use multiple reflectors and cards to shape the light around your model.

Be innovative! Try out some of these fun takes on portraiture to add something different to your portraits. Clay’s mantra is “evolve, adapt, or perish.” If you want to future-proof your photography business, you must stay creative and keep learning.



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​Nicoal is a freelance writer and photographer with a penchant for learning as much as possible. Her imagery ranges from nature-inspired portraiture to outdoor product photography. Connect with her at nicoalprice.com.