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Shoot Review

Lesson 5 from: Capturing Authentic Portraits

Chris Orwig

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Lesson Info

5. Shoot Review

Lesson Info

Shoot Review

I want to evaluate this, let me go to this one the review. My meet and greet, how did it go? This is where you want to do this mentally or actually, literally talk about the guide later. You can use that to do these things. How did it go as far as connecting with him? I think okay. It wasn't my best meet and greet cause my camera stuff wasn't ready, and tethering. That kind of killed a little bit there. I would give myself maybe a C on that. That's not bad, remember that's just a gap, and you say, "Okay, there's a gap. "How would I do that better next time? "Make sure someone was getting my tethered stuff going, "and the time where we shoot in the afternoon "you better believe it, "I'm not gonna let that happen again." We gotta learn from that, right? That's where the voices in your head, you can't let those derail you, but move you forward. Then I would say our connection, we were able to connect, but I was trying to teach, and that's hard to multitask there a little bit. I probably w...

ould have, maybe I'll try this afternoon, is had a little bit more of a quiet moment. I'll always clear the set at some point, or just say, "Hey, let's you and I "just focus on each other for a second." I would also just try to ask one deep question, at least. Not right away, but get into it. I didn't quite get there. The light, this is an interesting place. It's really even. His skin was a little bit too shiny for it on me, and if you can see that on there. I would have moved more into the light. I don't shoot in spaces like this. I would tend to say, "Let's go there, or there. "I had a couple of ideas to do." I would have moved around the light a little bit more, but for the sake of teaching, and getting us just a foundation, that's what I would do. I would say more movement within the light. Hopefully, you do this for yourself, and think about, "Oh yeah. "How could I have shifted this?" Really, I could have thrown a V-flat here so, there's a little more directional coming this way. Rather than so perfectly even across this way. Are you with me on that? This is a least my thinking. Gear, I think was probably fine. The 50, I think Drew works really well in the 50. Drew doesn't need a lot as far as lens is concerned. Some of us, when you're capturing portraits, you want a higher energy. Drew, he's like, he's amazing right. He's this kind of person. I think that 50, I probably could have spent more time there with that one. My directorial, the kind of voice was fine for teaching slash connecting. Do you guys agree with that assessment, as far as where we're going with that? Portraiture, three questions. Remember I said to think about these. What is a portrait? The first time I want to think about that is just the sense of what is a portrait in regards to how we define that. It's likeness of a person. If you look it up on Wikipedia, or something, it's some artistic representation and likeness of a person. The interesting question is can it be more than that? Keith Carter, one of my mentors, and a fine art photographer. I've heard him say, frequently, that he'll take portraits of things, like of trees. I'm like, "What Keith? "Your taking a portrait of a tree?" He's like, "Yeah, this tree that's died, "and some of it's branches have fallen off. "I want to capture the character, "the personality, of that tree. "Not the thing, but what's within the thing." I think that's kind of fun. It's a broadening the definition. It doesn't mean that on your website you say portraits of trees. Although you could probably, it would be fascinating study, but it's your intent. I think what a portrait has is intent. It's intent to get, not just what someone looks like, but a little bit more. There's a great teacher at this school where I used to work, Brooks, who taught celebrity portraiture, and he would often say, "Celebrity portraiture, "is really bad photographs of people that we know, "but to be good in this space you have to tell "someone something they don't know about this person." Not just their likeness, we know that. You gotta get more, get that intent to get underneath. Another way to think of it is, can a poem be a portrait? Let me read to you a poem by Billy Collins. It called "Candle Hat." He starts off, I'll skip the first part talking about self-portraits with Cezanne, van Gogh, and Rembrandt. Then he gets to Goya, and he says, Goya, in this self-portrait of Goya, he stands well back from the mirror, and is seen posed in the clutter of his studio. Addressing a canvas, tilted back on a tall easel. He appears to be smiling out at us, as if he knew we would be amused by the extraordinary hat on his head, which is fitted around the brim with candle holders. A device that allowed him to work into the night. You can only wonder what it would be like to be wearing such a chandelier on your head as if your a walking dining room or concert hall, but once you see his hat there's not need to read any biography of Goya or to memorize his dates. To understand Goya, you only need to imagine him lighting the candles one by one, then placing the hat on his head ready for a night of work. Imagine him surprising his wife with his new invention. Then laughing like a birthday cake when she saw the glow. Imagine him flicking through the rooms of his house with all the shadows flying across the walls. Imagine a lost traveler knocking on his door one dark night in the hill country of Spain. "Come in," he would say, "I was just painting myself." As he stood in the doorway, holding up the wand of a brush illuminated in the blaze of his famous candle hat. Isn't that a beautiful poem? Can a poem be a portrait? I think so, I think that's a pretty good portrait of Goya, but there was no picture involved. My favorite part there is he says, "There's no need." Once you see this portrait of him, there's not need to read any biography. Maybe a portrait's a biography in a small way. An authentic portrait is like that authentic biography. Maybe it isn't just likeness, but maybe it's story, character, personality. When you think of people photography, there's a lot that we can fill up that umbrella with. There's so many different ways to photograph people. Beauty photographs, baby, lifestyle, conceptual, family, editorial, but then I think when we shift that to portraiture all of a sudden it's like, "Well, do all those things fit?" Is a fashion photograph a portrait? Is a headshot a portrait? Can you create editorial portraits? When we add the word authentic, then all of sudden we have another layer on top of that, we're narrowing our scope a bit. One way I like to think about is this whole idea of this outward facing or inward facing type of portrait. A headshot is a type of portrait, by all means, but it you go to someone who does head shots, their website, often you'll see head shots, you'll see another category called portraits. You can picture the difference. Can you picture it in your mind already? The headshot is more outward facing, and it's more like, "I want to get work. "Here's my best face or look, or whatever forward. "I want to go that way." The portraits a little more inward facing. Are you with me on that? Beauty or fashion, it's about clothes. Portrait tends to be about the person. We want to start to think about how we do these things. Can you have a journalistic portrait? By all means. The Afghan Girl, Steve McCurry's photograph, one of the most famous photographs in the world was a journalistic portrait that he captured of a girl in a tent. As far as the light, this is the best lighting in the world. She's in a tent, there's darkness behind her, the overhead sun is blocked. There's the brightness illuminating her. It's brightness here, darkness all around here, and it's just like, "Whoa, that's amazing." That was journalistic, but it does have an intent, I think, with it. We want to start to think about how we categorize some of the things that we do. What makes a portrait good? I love the Aristotle's idea about art. That art isn't about outward appearance, but inward significance. I called up Jeremy Cowart, who's great, creative live person too, before this just now, "Hey Jeremy, what's you take? "What makes a portrait good?" He said, "Well, it goes beyond the looks, "and it captures the spirit or the soul." I like that definition as well. I think for me I've shared some of the things that, earlier in the talk. Let me read a couple more, but I like that a portrait resonates. It shows personality, presence, emotion, values, ideals. It expands our understanding of life. Next, we have to ask why does it matter? This is a really important question to ask. Why do landscapes matter? Why does food photography matter? Whatever it is. For me, here's the deal. The last fall, I had this hard drive situation, which I won't get into the details, but I thought I lost every image I'd ever taken. It was about a three week period where I thought that was true. Fortunately, it wasn't, but in that time I had a lot of time to think about what photographs I missed most. Of course, it was my, I have three daughters. Their births, it was their birthdays, it was those moments of them. It was all the people photographs, and this is just me, but it's those people photographs that mattered so deeply to me. It gets you thinking about people. I thought about my friend Chris, and photographs I have of him. I remember in junior high, I found our my cousin died. The first person I knew and loved who died. I found out the news, and I was just weeping, and a bunch of other junior high boys starting making fun of me. They didn't know what happened, they just saw some kid crying. So, they mocked me. My friend Chris came, and gave me a hug. That time, it meant so much. I thought about Chris, when we were 18, and we were rock climbing without ropes. Not a smart thing to do. Here we were rock climbing this place called the Wind Caves. We're 90 feet up, and I am above him. My knees are about his eye level, so I'm right here. He could reach out and grab my ankle, or my knee right there. I start to fall. Chris hooks his hand onto a rock. As I'm falling, literally, he grabs my wrist, swings me this way, sets me down next to him, and saves my life. It was crazy, and I'm like, "Dude, you just save my life." He's like, "No, no." I'm like, "No." I think about, he saved my life. It's like those people. I think about Chris when he was becoming a professional triathlete. I ran over his foot, and it broke in all sorts of places. An accident, it's a long story, but how he forgave me. That bond, that remained. When he was being photographed for a magazine cover. He was on tons of those, but when he asked me to do the shoot. There's little or big things that happen in life. My dad, how we taught me grit and work ethic. I thought about the photographs of him, and the loss of that. Another quick story, not to get too far into these, but I love stories as you can tell. Some of you may have heard this one. I don't know if you have or haven't, but I was in a massive, I was hit by a car, skateboarding, and I couldn't walk. I wasn't very mobile. My buddies were going camping. Long story short, I could do the car camping cause I could go car to campsite, but I couldn't go up into the Sierra Mountains, John Muir country in California. They said, "No Chris, you're coming with us." They took a lawn chair and poles, and they carried me up the mountain. A few thousand vertical feet. It was this crazy experience, and I was like the Pharaoh of the John Muir trail. It was crazy. Four guys, two in front of me, two behind me. They had to carry me like this because the couldn't carry me like this cause "Ahhh!" Fall down the mountain. That wouldn't be very good. I thought about that, and like these friendships, these people who literally did these things for me. I miss those photographs. Why does it matter? This is me, but you gotta answer for you. You gotta think about it in broad terms. The human condition, people matter, sure. What's your reason? What people for you matter? That's where vision and voice happens. What is a portrait? It's a lot of things. For Keith Carter, it can be a tree, or whatever. What makes a portrait good? A lot of things, for me, it's these things. Do you get where I'm going? You do not need to impersonate me. That's not the point, I mean, that would be horrible. That you need to become you, and when you do that magic really happens.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Authentic Portrait Guide Preview

Ratings and Reviews


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!

Student Work