Image Review part 1


Capturing Authentic Portraits


Lesson Info

Image Review part 1

There's one important topic we haven't yet talked about, which is a Japanese concept called "wabi-sabi." Has anyone heard of this before? It's a beautiful concept, which is the beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. And I'm pulling this from Leonard Koren, in his book. "Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Poets, and Designers," I think, or something along those lines, if you were to search his name, find the book. And the idea of "wabi" symbolizes rustic beauty and quietness and denotes simplicity and stillness. "Sabi" refers to those things whose beauty can only come with age and express the feeling that you get in autumn when the leaves fall. A couple more things he says about it; let me read you another thought. Wabi-sabi finds beauty in things modest, humble, rustic, and imperfect. Wabi-sabi is about the minor and the hidden, the tentative and the ephemeral, things so subtle and effervescent that they are invisible to the untuned eye. "Invisible to the untuned eye" might be a ...

big theme from today, right? What you didn't see now, all of a sudden you're seeing differently. It holds that beauty is an altered state of consciousness and extraordinary moment of poetry and grace. In other words, that beauty isn't just what we see, but it's our state of mind. Are we able to see it? And the reason why I want to bring up this concept in regards to portraiture is that, really, it is the flaw in portraits that make the frame. And I'm trying to figure out what's my framework for reviewing my work, and this is part of where it comes from as this concept of wabi-sabi. Typically, we approach software a little bit differently and it goes something like this, another story. You ready for another story? This one was, I was in my front yard, and the phone rings, and I pick it up, and on the other end, someone says, "Hello, this is Seal," and I think, okay, and I'm trying to think, "What friend of mine is calling me with an accent, saying that's he's Seal?" Fortunately, I didn't say, "Hi Seal, this is Flamingo." And I was like, "Seal, Seal, who is it?" And this guy just keeps talking to me, and he's talking to me about photography and about lightroom and I'm like, "What?" And I'm like, "It's Seal the musician." The singer and songwriter. I'm like, "How the heck is this guy calling me?" And he's like, "Chris, will you come over to my home and teach me lightroom?" And I'm like, "Yeah!" And my wife thought I was crazy. I'm like, "Heck yeah, I'm gonna do this! Why not, you know?" So anyway, I drive down to Beverly Hills a week or so later, and pull up to his house there, and right in front of his house, there's a bunch of cars off to the side, but in front of his house is this bright red Ferrari, or maybe it was a Lamborghini. I don't know, one of those kinda cars. And next to it was a minivan. And so he comes out talking; I'm like, "Well, what's the story with the Lamborghini and the minivan?" He's like, "Oh, the Lamborghini, that's for me," and then the minivan's like, "How else would I get the kids to school?" And I was like, "Okay, I am in a different world right now." So anyway, we go in, we sit down, and we talk lightroom. And he's actually a really strong photographer, and so it's fun to chat about that. And while we're sitting there, this story does have a point. We were talking about film versus digital. And this was a while ago, when that transition was a little bit, you'd have those conversations more often, do you remember those? And he said this to me. He said, "Chris, you know, when I shoot with digital, I look for the mistake. When I shoot with film, I embrace it." And I thought that was kind of profound. Digital, we tend to go to software like, "How do I fix it?" I teach software; I love software. This is part of the art of image making, what we're gonna do here. But we have to fight that off a little bit. Rather than saying, "What's wrong," we have to say, "Well, maybe we oughta leave some of that in," right? Another comparative story: food photography. I remember ducking into a food photography class and they were talking about how you style the food, you make it look all beautiful, and then you add a few crumbs. And without the crumbs, it doesn't look appetizing. And there's an art to crumb placement. And I was like, (gasps). And now when I see food photographs, I'm like, "There are the crumbs." Look at it; you'll see 'em. And if there aren't crumbs, it just looks sort of plastic; they've kind of sprayed lacquer over it. I don't know. So the idea is, it's the flaw that makes the frame. And so I want to do that, and I'm trying to think about how do we find those photographs. So with that kind of a mindset, I'm gonna go here. The other thing I'm gonna do, if it were a realistic thing, sometimes you have to turn photographs around really fast, but I try to give myself as much time as possible, much distance as possible away from the shoot, so I can see them a little bit more objectively. Because subjectively, there's probably a moment from today that was really fun, and so I'll like that photograph more than I should, 'cause objectively it's not as strong of an image. So I need to give myself a little distance. That's also the reason I like shooting film. If you don't do that, it's really fun, of course. Because then you drop the film off, you've forgotten it, and you get it back, you're like, "Oh my gosh!" or, "Oh no!" But it's the element of surprise. And I still find having some mystery and surprise in photography is important, not having it all calculated and figured out. So with that in mind, let's go to Lightroom and take a look at what we have. So one of the things that I'll tend to do is, in the grid view, I'll select photographs. So I'm clicking and shift-clicking. Let me close this so you can see this a little bit better. So basically, I have Luke there, right? And I wanna throw those images into a collection. And the way that you can do that is cmd-M. And I'll say, "Hey, throw this inside of Creative Live, sure." And I'm gonna call this one ... Let me think of what I'm gonna call ... I'm gonna call it ... Well, I'll just call it Luke. Keep it simple, yeah. I was gonna do a numbering convention or something. Include those photos. No virtual copies, no target collection, hit Create. So now I just have Luke by himself, which is nice. Then I'm gonna go back up there and try to find my next batch. And, oh no, I'm blanking on your name, where are you? Meghan. Megan, thank you. M-E-G-A-N? Like that? H. M-E-G-H-A-N. M-E-G-H-A-N, thank you. Put that in the same spot. And the reason why I wanna do this is, it doesn't matter how good your photographs are. If you look at too many pictures at a time, it deadens you senses. And part of what this class is about is heightening our senses as like, becoming aware. I love that added-on sense that he says, "Artists need to be aware of things that other people ignore." And that means you need to be emotional. You need to be highly sensitive to color, to expression, to all these different things. So I'm just trying to group it. What this could be, if it were just one shoot, it might be there's segments of a shoot, where I shot against blue, and then I shot against a rusty wall. And so, in that case, I'm might do something like that, where I'm putting those in their own little area. The other thing that I'll tend to do as well with stuff like this is ... We just make this a little bit more organized here. I'm gonna create a set. Is that I'll use this concept ... I'm trying to multitask. Let me get this in the right spot and then I'll tell you what I would do. Okay, this is kind of boring, but just stick with me for a second, and then we'll get there. Okay, so we have it. So the whole point is, take the images and just start to get some framework to them. So it could be in a sense that I just will throw all of the images into a collection and call that, "Collection R-1." So this is my round one; this is everything. And then I'll create a "Collection R-2," or "R-3." Or other ways that I might use collections is, say, "Okay, I have my blue photographs of Drew, those are there; my rusty wall photographs, these are here." 'Cause you almost need to compartmentalize your brain a little bit, so that you have these segments versus, you're just clicking, 'cause even after your own work, after image 100, you're kinda like, "Oh my gosh, I have another 600 to go." And it's overwhelming, and you're not as interested, you're not as entuned. You could take a break, but I just like to have 'em a little bit organized like that. So we have our people organized. So we have Drew. So then, what we're gonna do with Drew is, we're gonna go in there and start to look at them. A couple of different ways we can do that. F goes to fullscreen mode, and in fullscreen mode ... Actually, before I do that, let me get out of fullscreen mode. I might just want to get a sense on how many photographs I have of him. Like, okay. I have 90 photographs of Drew. And probably my goal for this shoot is, I don't know, maybe five images? I was talking a lot, and just doing sort of weird stuff. So I think that's a little bit of the goal. So I wanna get a sense of that overview on what those are. So F's a nice way to be able to look at ... I'll just start, I think, that's a one-star. That image is okay. So anything that might be somewhat okay, I'm gonna give that. I'm also trying to think, Right now, these photographs aren't as interesting because Drew is just here, in front of this wall. It's almost like ... my mom does this really well. When you're in Paris, and you see the little toy Eiffel Tower, the little souvenir you can buy, it's like, "Oh, they're everywhere." But then she'll buy a brass one of those and put it on home, and it's the only thing from France in our house. It just looks so cool, 'cause it's out of context. And so I'm trying to think of out of context, away. Will any of this stuff work? And Drew playing the fiddle, that was a pretty fun moment. So, I just kinda captured some of that. I think I mentioned the shininess on his head. I'm gonna need to do some post-production work on that. I do like this one. Do you guys like that one at all? Yeah. I think that's kind of fun. That's not bad. Okay. What's the teaching point? Eyes closed stuff, if I know I'm gonna trash it, X is gonna be a shortcut for that one. And that's a fun one. That, I think's Drew, kind of his fun exuberant self. This stuff was a bit of an experiment. As I look at the pictures, one of the things I'm noticing too is, I really wish he would've dusted off his violin, if you guys can see that. There's all this weird dust right here. Rosin. Okay, rosin. Thank you. Weird dust, or rosin, depending on ... (students laugh) Yeah, it is critical. I play the cello, too. I think I'd know it. But either way, I should have been more tuned in to that, and it would have been easy to swipe that off quickly. It's okay, but point being is, I'm also trying to learn from the photographs, I guess. And so my learn is, "Chris, gotta remember the details." If you notice that, on camera, take the three seconds to deal with it versus, if I really want to retouch that away, oh my gosh. That would be ... I don't know. That'd be a few hours of life that just disappeared. So, looking through the photographs ... Drew's sitting down, like that. Let's see ... Let me just keep clicking through these. I think that's kind of an interesting look for Drew. And here's why I'm calling this one out. I have a lot of Drew ... I think, Chris, you will have this as well, with this forward-facing, vibrant smile, piercing eyes. That's gonna be the easy shot with him. That's not hard. You meet Drew, and he's just like, he's just beaming, right? But having something with a little bit else, then I know that I need that as well. So I'm looking for that. Exposure-wise, I feel like my exposure's a little bit down, but as I think through that, I'm also okay with that, because, if this was too hot here, it's already too hot, so if I had gotten the rest, I can deal with the rest of this, and then also that. But if I had exposed more ... So either I was intuitively correct, if that makes sense, or I just got lucky. But I think that will help me out in my post-work. This one, I think, is kind of one of those interesting photographs where, right before the eyelids are about to close, you can kinda see that subtle ... The eyelids are a little too low. We're talking or something's happening. Then he settles in, after it. No smile. I tend to like the Drew no-smile type stuff. This stuff, I think, is kind of interesting. I'm trying to figure out, "What are we teaching here? What am I teaching?" Okay, so now, maybe what I'm teaching is, we saw Drew on the gray, and then we saw Drew sitting, we saw him standing, and we see him now come to blue. And we're getting personality in all of those. That's pretty fun. And we're able to ... Wait, which one's better? That one, or that one? Teeth. You like teeth? Teeth. Put 1 for teeth, 2 for no teeth. Give me 1 for teeth, 2 for no teeth. Okay, I'm a tooth kind of person. No teeth, for some reason. Right there, maybe. I think that's really good. Anyway, the variety, right? The variety wasn't a lot of movement, either. And that's part of this trick, too. It's like, say, "Hey, shoot this. Throw something up, do that. Stand up, do this." We can get ... what you would think, I mean, sometimes people are like, "Oh, you went to a new spot." It's like, "No. Tape. Something on the wall." And you also saw that the backdrop scenario, it's not necessarily ... That backdrop, I think, is really cool. I think I'm gonna become friends with it. But you could use other things. In my hotel room, there was a blue type of blanket. And that would've worked, too. I just didn't wanna steal from the hotel. Because when I get far enough away and it's out of focus, it just would become more of a pattern and texture. Well, that brings us to Drew, and let's just see ... If we had to say what some of our images are ... I'm gonna do something here. Give me just one second. One second, you guys. I will not claim to be an expert in editing on the fly. But let's try. It's sort of just a random set of images. But let's just go with what I clicked. I was doing this when they were thumbnails, so I don't even know if I really got the right ones. (students laughing) But can you see how a set's forming, at least? So we're doing something where we're a little bit different with our instrument. And you know that I did want him as a musician in there. To do something, I like this one. A little bit of light in the background. I think the blues are fun. Standing, and then a different posture with her head. And so, what I'm trying to shape out of that editing process is finding those type of pictures that are gonna work. Remember, I said I was going for five? I think, one, two, three, four, I have six. You have to maybe visit my site later, when you see what is the one. 'Cause they're probably is a one there. I just don't know it yet. And I don't think I can know it yet. I think it's too soon. And, does it happen to you guys? Gotta give a little breathing room. I also will say that all of these images are halfway there. So, for me, I would have to do the post-production side of it. Which is, I consider, art. I don't consider it toil or task; it is art. I'll try to post some of that somewhere, but it won't be rocket science, but it will be that fine tuning of the image. So and with that, I guess, the reason I'm vocalizing that is, you just have to know that when you're editing, right? And that's okay. That's okay that you're not all the way there right away. You shouldn't be all the way there. It's that little ladder step process. Let's go to another set. Sound good? Okay. So the next step, let's do Kenna. Who came next? Luke came next, right? Let's do Luke. Actually, Kenna would be so fun. (students laugh) We gotta do Kenna. Okay. So I think my guess, I'm just gonna click through these. My guess is there are gonna be very, very few bad pictures of Kenna. Okay, so is this a good picture? The very first one? That didn't count. Yeah. Little smile change, that's still ... Actually, not quite as good there, okay? That's fun. Now we're talking. That's good. So I'm gonna say, any picture where ... That's good expressiveness. I'm not adding ones to it. That's a keeper. That's a keeper. Very present, very engaged. The thing with Kenna is, she has a personality that's outward, that connects. I wonder if we can ... sparkles. Look at these eyes, man. These eyes, these little freckles in her eyes, have you guys ever seen those? Those are like little constellations or something. But she also has a really keen intellect and thought process and what's going on there. So that shows through. So we're getting a lot of that. This was messing around with the curls. Didn't totally work. This is that lower perspective. Who was talking about low to high? The low ... this isn't as good, the low perspective. Kinda straightforward, that's still decent. Too close to the wall, it drops back a lot better. The one thing with backdrops is just remembering, and even if you can't shoot that shallow, as they pull farther away, you can use them a little bit more. Just some goofiness, going back to the eyes. This was a fun moment that I missed compositionally, but I had her turn to the audience and say, "You guys encourage her." And then she came back to me. I was off framing-wise, but you can totally see that warmth, reflection from you guys. It's almost like energy transfer, like sunshine, your warmth, you know that, and it's there. And then I think I tried it again. So now I'm getting a little better composition, working on that. That's a great picture of Kenna. We should zoom in on that. No, I'm just kidding. It's hard to look at your photographs of yourself. And I think that gets us to the end. So as I said, I think ... percentage of shots we got, really, really high, right? And part of that, the light, was pretty even. And the color palette looked really good on Kenna. And then she was engaged, and she was a friend. And so, lotta times she would be like, "I don't wanna photograph my friends. I wanna photograph so-and-so." No, no. Gotta go to the friends. 'Cause you can start to create images that have something, and again, if they mean something to you, they might mean something to someone else as well. So I think that was a great little piece, and thank you, Kenna, for being pinup for that. Oh, thank you.

Class Description

It takes a true connection between photographer and subject to create powerful portrait photography. A portrait doesn’t have to be dramatic or glamorous to be compelling. In fact, the best portraits often showcase people expressing their vulnerability or discomfort. It’s the photographer’s job to evoke and capture authentic emotion by establishing a genuine rapport with the subject.

Join veteran portrait photographer Chris Orwig to learn how to take meaningful portraits and use them to make your transition from amateur to professional. In this class, you’ll learn:

  • How to confidently approach a stranger and convince them to participate in a shoot.
  • How to connect with and pose your subjects naturally
  • Which lenses, camera settings, and light considerations to keep in mind during a shoot

Chris Orwig has created images for companies like Google, Adobe, and Patagonia, and his work has been published in Rolling Stone, Esquire, and Surfer Magazine. His experience has taught him how to keep a subject comfortable, authentic and engaged throughout a shoot. He has learned to deal with the technical demands of a portrait shoot - lighting, setting, constraints of time and budget - while also staying focused on the story he is trying to tell. 



Wow. This course was about so much more than "just" portraiture. Chris Orwig is a fantastic speaker and teacher - very engaging, down to earth, wonderful photo examples and live demonstrations on how to interact with the subjects you are photographing. I love that he brought in quotes and artwork and poetry, as well as some really great personal stories and experiences, to make his points. Fabulous! This man is an expert in capturing that spark in others - and you can totally see why. Really great.

Martin Backhauss

Amazing class and what a great AND inspiring trainer. Thank you Creativelive for giving Chris Orwig the stage. Perfect choice! Learned a lot but more importantly, I got so inspired by his presentation and that is what matters the most .....for me. Super grateful. THX CL!