Image Review part 2


Capturing Authentic Portraits


Lesson Info

Image Review part 2

Okay, Luke, um. Let's just see where Luke is. Not working for me, not working. Not working. Now, it kind of is. So this is where I was trying to show you guys, and I think the reason why it wasn't working is, Luke is a really cool guy, I would love to get to know him, but the face is too round. Do you see that? And the brightness of the face is kind of bringing that around. So I was looking at, is there a way where I could have the light not quite so even? Do you see how it feels less round all of a sudden? The chalk background, I don't like that wall because it feels a little whimsical. It doesn't match my style, if it was a kid holding a balloon or something, that would be great. I can deal with that, though, pretty easily in post, so I think that one works. Alright. I think all of this stuff works, actually. I think this is cool. I think I could really go with this, minus the chalk in the background. Changing the side of the light, that's pretty fun. Something I'll do in Lightroom, ...

as well, to figure out photographs is to right-click and Transform and choose flip horizontal. And sometimes what that can do is just help you figure out the way the photograph is weighted and what the light's doing. And so with this image, it needs some work, like this needs to come down, I would bring the highlights down a little bit. Can you see how I would do that? It would even it out just a touch. But just live with it as it is. You're coming from the left, the brightness, and then the darkness is kind of holding you in. But when it flipped the other way, it was like the brightness, I don't know, it just didn't work as well. So I'm trying to analyze the weight, as far as how the eye travels into the photograph and out. This is him more straightforward. I think that's strong there. Talking, so these are the in-between shots, and then settled. With some of this stuff, too, I should say, starting to experiment with cropping, I said I wasn't gonna do post, but I can do freeform crop a little bit and fullscreen, is that in our world where we can go real vertical, but they seem a lot tall and skinny. So sometimes I'll actually crop my verticals in a little bit because I just feel like they sit well more in there, sit better in that frame. And then some people say, well, you can't do that. You have to have the correct aspect ratio, but it's not true. I mean, there are cameras like I shot with a Contax a long time, and it's a different rectangle than a 35-millimeter rectangle. So sometimes it's fun to experiment. Like this photograph, I feel like it was so long and stretched out, but he fits in there better. Yeah, Kenna. Well, I'm actually glad that you addressed that, Chris, because a number of people have been asking about whether you shoot for the way it's gonna be or if you crop afterward, because there was quite a bit of headroom above the heads on some of them. Unabashedly crop, and then select cameras that give me that flexibility. So I talked about that Sony camera, that one's capturing, I think it's like a 46 megabyte file, and so I've found with that one, finding the photograph within the photograph has even given me more flexibility. So I am all about that. Obviously, I'm trying to use that to teach me how I could've been better in the next time, versus as a crutch, right? So I'm not just saying, I'm just gonna be sloppy and shoot. Every time I'm cropping, I'm thinking, why does that image need to crop? But yes, I'm all about cropping as an art form. Like this one, way too much headroom, right? He's kind of sinking in the frame, and if it is about his eyes, we need to get him down there. And I think we could experiment a little bit. I think you could dead center it. A lot of times people will say don't go dead center, but yeah, that's a better photograph, right, than having all that headroom. So, per that person's comment or point, I think they're right on the money. I am really interested in this kind of stuff. That's that garage door. It actually didn't open up all the way, which is fine, but had it been open more, it would have been a little bigger, had he been farther away, it would have gotten smaller. And as he gets closer to it, it's gonna open up more. So I'm looking at that. As far as beginning to learn how to do that yourself, one of the ways you can do it is selfies, obviously, and just like, the iPhone and say like, okay, I'm looking at the light in my eye. Or holding sunglasses. Sunglasses are a lot like an eye. Taking your sunglasses off, and looking at, oh wow, I see the warehouse opening door. What happens if I move this way? Oh my gosh, it's gigantic now, right? And finding that before the person shows up, is a great way to be in tune with that. And that's more for me, because my photographs, it's all about the eyes. I'm so into the eyes. Alright. 'Kay, this great beard. I think, you know what it is with Luke? He's kind of like an archetype in a way, in a sense like he could be if it were a character or a casting, and you could clean up a couple things, but he could easily be the captain of a ship or something. He kind of has this, a little bit of regalness about him. A little bit of a king stature about him. So as far as the sideways glance, I think for that, it works well. Something I'll do a lot in Lightroom, as far as post-production, is use the Previous button which my buddy Matt Kloskowski, I think who's on next week, he says is the most underutilized button in Lightroom. And it basically just sets whatever you did to the last image to the one that you're on. And it's a nice way to reset your settings. With all of these, I'm so tempted, like I gotta go and do some of my post stuff, but I'm trying not to because that's not today. Okay. That's a cool photo though, yeah? You guys into that one? 'Kay, this is another reason why I was turning the head, too. Which is interesting. There's one photographer I like a lot who's really really keen on thinking about light as it hits the ears. So I can bring that light back in post, but he crafts and sculpts light with studio lights, and he always has flags so that the ears aren't being hit. The ears are not lit, so no light on ears. In this case, I can't do that, I'm not gonna bring like a, have someone hold foam core, and block my light, but I am aware of that, and I'm sure that's why I'm trying to do some of this, because all of a sudden, this is a little bit too much about his ears, this isn't at all. And I could shift my light just a little bit in post to help that out as well. I think his presence as far as his presence, it's great. Like this one, this one I had him like, take a breath, maybe hold it or something. You can kind of see, he's sort of like, pinched up, like this. Anyone who's done a relaxation technique knows, you hold in all your tension and then you let it go. And you do that. And so all those movements, that's fine to me. And then see if we can find one that settles. I think that's interesting, as far as the light in the eyes, we have really good light in the eyes. As far as composition, I do some stuff with composition and change that up. But going in a good direction. Okay, I'm gonna rifle through these because I think you're seeing a lot of what we have, and then we decided to mix it up. This was the moment when something happened. He was laughing for some reason. Brazil? So then it was like, real expression. And even if I don't get it, I'm sure as heck gonna try. So something happens to genuinely make someone express or emote, like that's kind of a fun photograph of him. And compare that to everything else I got. Everything else is pretty structured, pretty forward. I think they'll be something fun there. And this is that in-between kind of moment, which sometimes, with, let's just see... Oops. Sometimes when you pair it up with something, it can be a fun combo, it can be kind of like a connector image that connects a set. This was the stuff where I thought getting close to him wouldn't work, but man, I think that totally works. Right? I think getting, it's even a little distorted, I think, because I'm so close. That'll happen with the 50 I talked about that, but something that's kind of nice, because when people do get too close to you, your feeling of them being so close, it is sort of distorted, right? And so I love that. I like this one, he's higher, that one, lower, not as much. He's too low. The smile, that's fine, but not, it's more snapshot-y. I don't want the smile. That, really cool, pensive, epic, love that shot. And then going through the background, just messing around with the background. And you're seeing really how that is totally changing our mood, right? We don't know what it is. Imagine if we put a little bit of blue chalk in that. If I'd really shot with him, I would've. Could you see that background with a little bit of blue in there, with the blue eyes? Oh. Love it. I was asking him about strength, here. And I think that's it. That's a wrap on Luke. Helpful to see those. Keep going, a couple others. Yeah, we've got 50. We also have Megan, brave soul. Oh my gosh, Megan, you did not know you signed up for this. So this is Megan starting off. Which was very brave to do. And what I liked about, I liked that one, a lot, what I like about Megan, sorry to put you on the spot, is she feels like someone you just need to get to know. I'm gonna predict things about you, I know you have family, so I know that's true, but there's a lot of friendliness to you, so I think these photographs have that friendly spirit of who she is. I don't think, we didn't delve, oh, this is curious. This is a little bit more pensive of you, but still has warmth. I think I like that one most, but I like those too, a lot. Let's look at them. So those two photographs I think are wonderful. And part of that is capturing, I would say, this is probably closer to your real personality, this is another slice of your personality, and so getting that, just kind of spur of the moment, is fun, so thank you. Yeah, question. So, Chris, I wanna have you talk a little bit about smile, no smile, and authentic smile, because I know that that can be hard to get, but I know in a lot of your work, you don't have the person smiling, so what do you, when do you want the smile? When do you end up with authentic smiles? Yeah. I think we look for smiles 'cause we're insecure. So if you think about fine art photography for a second, or the arts in general, painting, photographs, there are very, very few smiles. Mona Lisa's, obviously, the example, right? But her smile's such a mystery that that's what draws us in. And I think when we point a camera at someone, often we say, well, smile, or say cheese, 'cause we're not willing to just, like right now, you have an amazing look, no smile. And I think if we're confident and comfortable, we allow for that more. I probably wasn't at the top of my game, and confident enough to work that here today. And the reason why I think that lack of smile, I mean, when smiles happen, by all means, you capture them. But the reason why I think, you know, we can have warmth in a picture without a smile. You can have that by the posture, by the gesture, by the gaze, by the nonverbals, whatever. And I think it lasts a little bit longer. Let me just think of a, try to think of a famous portrait. I mean, we talked about the Afghan girl, that's so famous it doesn't really count. A smile is really easy to digest. It's accessible, it's right away, but without a smile, it's a little more psychologically complex. So if we can bring some of that into it, it matters. So yeah, I am always looking for that rather than the easy out. Do I always get there, no Do I hope to get there, yes. And I think if you could create what I'm gonna call a photograph that's art, do you know the difference, you know what I mean, one where it's like capital A Art, you really do that like a Mona Lisa, where if you can create an image which transcends, where there is that sense of smile in it, that's accomplishing a really great thing, like a really, really great thing. So I'm always on the lookout for it. I don't know if that answers the question, but. Thank you. Christy, on the other hand, she couldn't not smile, right? So with her, I don't think the right picture, I mean that's a great photograph of her. And I'm guessing she smiles all the time. I don't know her, but I think she's one of these people who's this exuberant, warm, and I like this of her smaller. This was when we were talking about lenses, why I would go 50, or pull back a little bit. I like her small in the frame for some reason. So in this case I'm running with the smile. But that being said, this versus this, that's kind of interesting, right? So the toned-down smile, that's kinda nice, don't you think? So my own opinion of that is I do like this one. I think I'm getting closer to what I have in mind for my own vision of a portrait there, but still I'll let it go, because, I think, of her warmth. But I do like her quieter look, so maybe it is volume for me. I think, perhaps, it's just like a musician, how loud they like to play the instrument. It's totally subjective, but I think the volume of the smaller smile is nice. These images, you almost can't not take these. Little bit higher perspective, that's narrowing the jawline. And then I would tell her not to smile, and it wouldn't always work. Different background, and then of course, this was her tough look. She was tough. But you can see what happened to her face. Remember, I've talked about non-verbals, and she was great for role-playing, she was too good. But there's the up-down thing, so like gravity-defying when you're happy, your whole face opens up and here you can see it's all dropped down, like her whole thing's dropped down and she's closed off, and all that kind of stuff. Which is great to be able to identify, and to see that. And then tried to ask her about kids, and that got her warming up a little bit. She's still a little bit reserved, which is fine. Just for the record, the amazing hairstyling throughout, that was great, thank you. This was the model-y stuff where it's kind of just, I was talking about the head tilt, or these kind of lean in things. And you kind of see, it's really different than the other stuff that we've done, right? Not that it's bad. But that definitely doesn't feel like a portrait to me, that feels like we're trying to sell the garment or something like that, or we're squinting it out, and that was, yeah, comical. A lot better, right? That to that. And just that gentle nudge of how you're guiding people to get there. Alright, well that takes us through those images, at least a glance of them. Yeah? So, Chris, I wanted to ask you about, and I was trying to figure out exactly where the roleplay began. And so I think the first roleplay that we did with Christy was when she made you super nervous. Do we know, can we-- Yes, yeah where that was in the-- Can you talk to us a little bit about how that may have been reflected in the final images? Yeah, so let's think about this. So we know that this was her, So before that. That was when, maybe was it blue, maybe? I don't know if I totally shot the nervousness. I think I might have talked to her. I don't think the photographs reflect it, because I got so nervous, 'cause she got nervous. But that was a great question. But you guys saw her do such a good job of, really, and I think what I did, if I'm remembering correctly, is I took more time with my camera right here. Oh, did I have the film camera? If I did my job right, I was hopefully much slower, not shooting as quickly as I would have been, not shooting through it, because you can't shoot through nervousness, really. You can shoot through over-modeling, you can shoot through silliness, you can shoot through tough guy-ness, or tough girl stuff, but the nervousness, each shot you feel like they'll just crawl farther away. So Cassidy and I shot last. I hope I shot last, yeah. So essentially you just have to work your way through the nervousness, not only for the subject, but for yourself as well? Yeah. And I think it's like, if a brick were to fall on my toe, all of you guys would be like, ouch. You know, we feel each other's pain, and empathy's part of that, so maybe I was like, oh my gosh, I so feel for this situation, you know? She's so nervous. So yeah, I had to work through it for her and for me, is what you were saying. Totally. Wouldn't you say that's true with people you photograph?

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!