Shoot with Model


Capturing Authentic Portraits


Lesson Info

Shoot with Model

Okay so we have someone else. Kristie do you wanna come on down? Let's give it up for Kristie. (applause) And if you don't mind sitting down that way you're just comfortable and nice to see you too, I have to say hello. So Kristie and I don't know each other except we just met recently. So in this case we're transitioning from, we went from Luke, a guy I didn't know, to Kenna, a friend, to Kristie, who's a model. And so what I have to think instantly or eat my own words is never photograph a model, right? So Kristie isn't a model even though she has an amazing look and all those things, but there's a lot more to her, right? And what are some clues that we're gonna pick up on? She has a ring, so I'm instantly gonna go to that. And I'll grab my camera so I can talk and shoot at the same time. And so I'm gonna say are you married? Yes I am. Okay. (laughs) Been married two years. Two years? Two years. Oh my gosh, okay. And who is the guy? My husband's name's Jeremy. Okay, a...

nd let me grab a picture real quick. And then tell me a little bit about Jeremy. We met, we were neighbors. So we've known each other for like 10 years. Oh my gosh, how fun. Yeah so we're friends for a long time. Wow. Yup. So 10 years of dating or 10 years of just friendship? Friends, yeah. And then eventually, yeah. Yup. Wow, and you live here in town? Woodinville, yup. Okay great. Maybe turn towards the audience, your knees. Yeah just like that a little bit. And then look back towards me with your eyes, yeah. And then do you have family in town? My whole family lives here, yup. I grew up in Washington. Okay. So I have an older brother, older sister. They're both married with families. Okay. Both my parents. Awesome. Yeah. And what are some of the most important things to you? I mean you heard some of our other conversations. Well I just had a baby. Oh okay. Yeah, so she's the most important thing. It's a she. And meaning just, how recently? Six months. Oh my gosh. That is so cool. Yeah a little baby. Wow that is so neat. Six months so she is beginning to interact in so many ways. Like what are her tricks? Well she-- I'm gonna keep shooting around our conversation, yeah, yeah. Okay. She laughs at our dogs. She thinks they're hilarious. Okay, wait what are you dogs? What kind of dogs do you have? I have an English Setter and a rescue dog, a little Chihuahua. Okay and then hop outta that chair, I'm gonna move us around. Wait English Setter and rescue Chihuahua. Yup, so they're opposites. (laughs) Oh my gosh that sounds like a little-- The Chihuahua's the boss. A little pair. Yeah. Okay and she cracks up at the dogs. Oh yeah, she just looks at them and laughs. Yeah, yeah. And what else? Tell me about, is she doing pushups yet? Or is she trying to roll? Trying to crawl. Okay. And, I mean, and I think we can all safely say this, you look amazing for having a six month old. I mean did anyone here have kids? I forget. I mean remember when you had a six month old. I mean that's a tough window of time. But thank you for being here. Oh yeah of course. So what I'm thinking too, as far as my mind. Once I know someone, you can see the picture in the back. That looks really, you look wonderful. When I know someone, like six months old. I'm like I better step up my game. Because when you have a six month and you're away from the family, you're like this time counts, you know what I mean? So it's also like my clock's ticking a little bit differently. And this is true, whatever that interaction is. 'Cause I remember, my girls are now I'm at four, 10 and 11. Oh wow. Yeah and you know in those early times you're like oh my gosh do I have time to go buy diapers? No I don't have time. Or how do I do all this? So I'm grateful for that. And then I'm kinda thinking through that. And your husband, what does he do? He has an appliance store in Bellevue. Okay cool. Family business, his grandpa started it. Oh wow, so neat. And then what are his, or I should say what are your interests before you had, what's your daughter's name? Maya. Before Maya, what were your interests or what were you-- Well my dogs and I did fostering dogs. We had the dog room in our house and we'd always have different fosters that we'd be helping out. So fun. 'Til they got adopted, yup. We like hiking. Very cool. And then what about school? And maybe turn your knees the opposite way. Well just go, put the back towards these guys for a second and turn, yeah, yeah. And then this is a good teaching thing. We don't know each other. I don't have a hair and makeup person. I would love to have her hair come over her shoulder. I don't know her well enough to get in her space and move her hair. So that's where I'd recruit someone. Like, do you mind being my hair and makeup person for a second? And turn like you were that way. And so all I'm thinking, do you wanna just style her hair so it's a little bit over her shoulder? Yeah, yeah, maybe one curl coming out like you had? That looks so good. Now turn a little bit to me this way. That's amazing, thank you. So there are ways around those situations. There's also some people, I mean 'cause you're a model you probably wouldn't care. But if it wasn't a model, they might be like oh my gosh this photographer's touching me. Guy or girl whatever it is. Anyway, with that just having that sensitivity to that sorta thing. And then I'm also getting, really early on, my read on Kristie for whatever it is. Kristie has this big warm heart, which matches her huge smile, sorry to put you on the spot but big smile, and big huge blue eyes. And isn't this amazing? Like era of life, golden era of life with a new not quite a newborn but something along those lines. So I have no film left. So this is an interesting point on why film's good. It does create a moment of where you're not doing camera stuff. So I'm gonna change this out. And then ask you a question about school. What were your interests in school? In school, well I studied business, I got my MBA. I'm very into marketing. Okay so she has a big heart and she's also a badass. Oh my gosh, okay. So we're adding a lot more dimension here, right? Is she a model, just for the record, or more than a model? Can you guys answer for me, is she more than a model, yes. Okay so you got your MBA. And then I worked at Microsoft for a while. Did marketing there. And enjoyed that stint in your life? I did, yeah, it was nice. You kinda sit at a desk all day so that kinda got tiring, yeah. And I'm guessing by your smile, that you're loving being a mom at this point. Yeah, I love it. Because yeah. And a really easy baby too. She sleeps through the night, always smiling. Oh my gosh. Yeah, right? I know. And so you're gonna have more? Yes of course. Well hopefully they're all like her. Yes and is there a magic number you're going for? Well my husband wants two, I want three. Okay. So we'll have to see. Yes. The thing with three, which I have, is two is hard, it's all hard, really. But two is hard, but when you have three, they just get thrown into the mix in such a wonderful way. My husband just keeps saying but then we're outnumbered. Because two you have two on two. But three kids, two parents. You get outnumbered, yeah. Yeah. But it does, at least for us, there's a beautiful aspect to that. Because they, at least the way for us, those sisters love each other is like nothing else in the world. So fun, to have someone to play with. Yes, yeah. We were just at the water slides for my daughter's birthday, the 10 year old. And at the end of the water slides, my youngest, four year old, got out of her swim suit and was wrapped in a towel and I didn't realize that so just this naked little kid floating around the water slide. And one point her towel kinda came off and I was like Elsie, you don't have a swim suit on. And she's like dad, don't announce that to the universe. (laughter) And the only way she would get that is from her big sisters. That's funny. Okay. Just hold it for a second. It takes me a little bit to focus this one. There we go, just like that. Nice. I'm gonna do one more here. This camera had black and white film in it. So this is more like the, I don't know what we call this but here we go, just take your breath. (camera snapping) Let me change lenses a little bit. Let's see, lenses are strewn all over. What I would tend to do, you know I said like have your gear accessible and all that? Which I don't. But I would tend do have a bag on my back that I have all this stuff in. I didn't bring it on this trip because I knew I was gonna be shooting in a studio the whole time. And I also had to bring all this extra stuff that I wouldn't normally have. So I'm, you know what I mean. Yeah. Chris, couple of questions. One, what was it that made you wanna change lenses and then two, could you reiterate again the why you're shooting the film in addition to the digital? Yeah so the changing lenses is Kristie has this warmth to some, and I wanted to create a little more space around the picture, I've created some close up ones. But I wanted to have a little more pulled back. And so that was the idea, I think, with the lens change. And then the film is also just to slow me down and I mean Kristie, you're kinda a pro, no offense. Like you're so good at this, genuine and natural. And I think with that, let me try to articulate it well. You guys attest to this. You can kinda look towards them for a second. Warm, radiant smile, right? Like oh my gosh. Like brilliant blue eyes. This mom, this new baby, all this stuff. Part of the film, I think, was this is what it is which is a good question. I didn't realize why I was doing it until now. I wanted a picture with film on it. And I've talked with a photographer, Mark Seliger, who's a great celebrity portrait and he says whenever there's an image that really means something to me, I grab my film camera. And so I think I was seeing something and I was like I want this on digital but I also want it on film. So I think it was just a selfish, like, I wanna have that as well. Because I think that gives something, and I think the film has a little more of that nostalgic look to it or something. So I wanted it so I have it. I mean it would have been fun to have you bring in your little one. (man in audience speaks off mic) I'm using a 50. And then if I could get some help to bring a backdrop behind her, the blue one. Two people? Basically hold each pole and then just walk it behind her. Thank you guys. Yeah and then maybe, yeah. A little bit that way if you don't mind, and a little bit closer to her. Cool. Okay so we're gonna do a couple more pictures, Kristie, and then I'd asked her beforehand when we met, right before the session started, if we could do some role playing which is what we're gonna do in a second. Hair and makeup, do you mind helping me out? And that is true. Once you kinda get someone to help you once, it's real easy to get them again. Even just with yeah. And then you kinda feel good too, right? 'Cause someone's got your back a little bit. Yeah, 'cause I don't know what I look like. Yeah, yeah, yeah. That's great. Okay I'm gonna get in really close here. And kinda look up a little bit towards, yeah like that there. And then just pull, you have one hair kinda falling in your eye like that. Alright, very good. Okay and then take a deep breath and no need to smile on this one. Just a little bit content about the happiness of being a mom. Yeah, yeah, just yeah like that. Maybe a bigger smile is fine. Your smile's so radiant. Alright will you guys pull the background out and we're gonna do a little role play. Thank you I just wanted to do a couple so we have a comparison to be able to look at colors. Okay so here's what I thought would be interesting to do. Because Kristie is such a pro, is to have her role play a couple things. First one is you're nervous. She didn't come in nervous, could you guys see that? Like she came in so relaxed and comfortable and vibrant and all those things. So now I can have her be nervous. And I'm gonna try to figure out how to get some of those nerves out. So if you just walk over maybe to the chairs, I'll reset the this. And this time what I'm trying to do is answer the question what do you do when someone's nervous? Alright, let's welcome Kristie. (applause) Hi Kristie. Nice to meet you. Okay so not much eye contact, right? She sat down without me even talking to her. And so Kristie fill me in. First of all thank you for coming. And my gosh this is gonna be way harder than I thought. She's good. Okay so thanks for coming in. So basically what I'm doing, so you kinda know the sense of it is I'm shooting a new portfolio. And I'm trying to capture these images. I don't even know what I'm doing. I'm so nervous 'cause she's so nervous. (audience laughing) She's like totally, I didn't think she'd be that good at role playing. Alright, reset Chris. Okay so I'm capturing these portraits for a new portfolio and I'm so grateful that you came in. I was chatting with your husband and when I was in the shop and he was like oh yeah I'm sure my wife would help out with that. So thanks for that. So he was telling me that you guys have a new kid, yes? Yeah we just had a baby. Oh my gosh and what's her name? He didn't say. Her name's Maya. Maya, and where did Maya come from? Where'd she come from? Or I mean, sorry where'd the name Maya come from? Do we need to have a talk? The name Maya, well we actually went to the Mayan ruins on our honeymoon, and I fell in love with the name Maya there and then we had her two years later. So the name stuck around. Wow. Does she have, wait let me just get a picture just make sure my settings are right too. Does she have a middle name? Jane. And where's Jane come from? Both grandmas. My mom's name's Jan and my mother-in-law is Joan. We kinda put them together for Jane. Wow so there's the Maya honeymoon, two grandmas. Wow, lots of meaning there. Alright so what I'm hoping to do is capture just an authentic portrait of who you are. So do this for me just take a breath real quick and roll your shoulders out. Kinda get comfortable. Maybe even open your hands and stretch a little bit. You guys do it too, or om, just take a breath. Alright yeah perfect. And just like you are is great. I mean the blue of your shirt looks so good with your hair color and your eyes. Did you do your own makeup? It looks wonderful. Thank you, thank you. That felt a little canned, but I was trying. And then turn your shoulder a little bit that way, toward yeah, there we go. Yeah just like that. Okay. So how'd I do? Did I do okay? Can you kinda see how you might try to do that? And obviously we were staging it. But it did sort of work, right? It sort of got here out of that. And we learned some new things about Maya, which was really neat. And I think if it was someone who was really nervous, I'd probably also say don't worry, whatever you do is fine, wait hold that look right there. And let me get this. This is so good. And we could have kept talking about her daughter and I would have gone to those other questions about her daughter. 'Cause once you talk about the person in the world that's most important to you, nervous or not you're gonna warm up a little bit. Okay next role play. Hang on out, just step on out. (applause) So we do know she has an MBA, which I didn't know which works perfectly. And this is the situation where you come in and your mindset's corporate. So you're like a corporate executive, and you're thinking this is sort of professional forward-facing look, image, and maybe I'll get that. But I also want a portrait in the mix. So what Kristie, if you could be is a little stiff. This isn't nervous, this is you kinda got your stuff together and you wanna get this thing over with, right? And that's a very common scenario as well. Okay Kristie. Kristie, pleasure to meet you. Nice to meet you. Yeah alright. Okay so we need photographs for the department, tell me your department again? Microsoft, where are you? Yup, marketing. Online marketing. Marketing. Online marketing. And so okay that's really cool. Let's turn towards the audience so they can see you. (audience laughing) Yes that's good, arms crossed. Arms crossed often if you look at the picture, she's tough, man I'm tough as nails. Online marketing. I thought marketing people were friendly and bubbly. Not this marketing person. Okay so you're in marketing, online marketing, and which products do you work with or what area? Microsoft's huge. Is it-- I do anti-piracy, so it's the software that helps your computer not get piracy on it. Well that's a good thing. Yeah. So you're kinda helping people. Yeah. So you're marking for the good guys against the bad guys. Alright cool, well let's do something. Just wanna get a portrait that works for the context or a picture that works for the context, so maybe rather than arms here, what if you set 'em in your lap in a natural way, and that might mean, yeah like that. Where they're just connected. And basically I'm shooting you sort of waist up. Okay. So that's the shot. And in this one, if you would look out towards that way, towards that window, yeah. And then look back towards me for a second. And then think about something that your department did where it kinda pushed through something that you guys thought you couldn't do. Whether it was a great campaign that really made an impact, or where you pulled something off that the folks above you were really happy about. So somewhere in that line, some kind of like progress or break through that you guys had. Okay and then you don't need to smile too, this is just yeah, yeah, just like that. Okay cool. And then it'd be great to get a portrait of you as well while we're here, one a little bit more about you outside of work. So I've heard that you are into badminton. You play badminton on the weekends or something? Yeah, I won a championship last month. Did you really? Okay we're making this up of course. But that must have been invigorating. So when you play badminton, and the little thing's called a birdie, right? Yeah. And the goal, it's kind of like tennis, but you're. Exactly, have you ever played before? I have a long time ago. But I've heard that it's really kind of the hip thing to do down at Washington Park these days. And again I'm making it up. I'm not really working, okay. But that was great. Did you guys kinda see how we worked that? Like get what the job was done and then a slight transition. Now if it was really, I was photographing her in the executive thing, which could happen right? I would probably have a little bit shorter than I had. I would like boom boom boom get the work shots done, then I would do one question about what you do outside of it, try to get something, try to get some kind of smile or expression and then out we go. Let's do one more scenario, head off. This is the scenario where someone is being too much of a model. And this comes from that we're now on Instagram and social media and all these things and we're aware of how we look. And so what can tend to happen is people can tend to think well I know this looks good or that looks good or whatever it is. And your job is to try to scale that back. Sometimes, the last one I was trying to maybe scale it up, or I don't know if that word works. But you get the idea, go up a little bit. Here's I'm trying to go the opposite way. So Kristie, welcome. Kristie nice to meet you. Nice to meet you. You gotta get it a little more in your walk, like you're like, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah and maybe standing and do something with your hands so you're kinda like, yeah, yeah like that. And then keep moving like yeah there we go, okay. Alright okay. Okay keep going keep moving. Keep moving, okay. Okay so in my mind, I would be thinking oh my gosh what am I gonna do, right? So what do we do? So you keep moving. So be like oh that's cool. So you have done modeling before? Yeah, oh yeah on Instagram. Me and my friends we take a lot of pictures together, yeah. And so, you're doing perfect, by the way. So what that tends to be, don't you guys think? She's doing a really great job. So there tends to be more movement when people think they need to model. Or facial expressions, give me like your Blue Steel for a second, like whatever that is. And then maybe do like where you kinda, yeah, yeah, okay there we go. So with those pictures, you shoot through them, right? You shoot through 'em. And then I would almost let her tire herself out with it. So we did the looks and I'd be like okay let's sit down for one. And I would say hang on one second and I might do something. And I'd also be like hey will you hold this for a minute? Remember I talked about doing stuff with gear. And this is just getting, we're kind of calming down. We're doing some scenario. If there isn't a seat, I might say, you know like throw your shoulder against the tree. Even though I don't want a leaning picture, but it would just be there. And I would say I think we got a lot of really dynamic energy with our movement, with all that, let's do one a little more still. And this time, maybe throw your knees that way, look back towards me, yeah, that's really nice. And then we capture the frame. So I think we don't need to do too much role play because I think you guys are getting how we'd start to do that. And I think we all agree that Kristie is the hero here. Let's give it up for her. (applause) Oh thank you, thank you. Good work and thank you so much. Pleasure to meet you. You too. That was awesome. Kenna. Once again, yes, thank you Kristie and Luke earlier. Well done. Yes, and Kenna. Oh thank you. So I do have a couple of questions before we head into break if that's alright. Okay so people have noticed that you are having your subjects talk quite a bit. And so people are wondering how you don't just get tons of pictures of people talking, how do you get those in between moments? And I know when I was sitting in the chair, I was wondering when I should pause in my talking. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah and that I think, I mean you could say the downside of this approach is that you do get more of those kind of images. But I'm looking for that pause between the notes and so for me I'm okay with that. What I feel like it is, if I, by shooting through that, a lot of times people will be like wait you took the picture? It's sort of like being that I have kids who have to get shots. You know and you take them to the doctor and the really good nurses or doctors, they'll all of a sudden do the shot and they're like wait it's over? I'm like yeah, we got it. So that's a little bit of what I'm trying to do. And so that's just the nature of it. And how talkative it is and how much I'm shooting is a little different in real life. I mean I'm trying to demonstrate, so I'm probably shooting a little more than I would be. More often I would have my camera down, so when you're talking about something cool I'm doing that. And then a few times you remember, I called out I'm like wait hold that. Doom, boom and then I would keep talking. And even though it is an interruption, that often works. And that's the same thing with movement, just like having people move or walk to a new location, you'll see them, you'll be like wait wait, hold right there, hold right there. And then get it and then keep that transition. So that's part of it. But part of it that I'm okay. The film camera, I don't do that. Film camera, no. Every frame I get on film, I want it to be really, really good. So that's possibly why I use that as well. Cool. Yeah, any other questions? We do, yeah. So several people have been asking about, we've had a lot of individuals that you've been photographing here in the class. We've seen some images of multiple people in some of your work as well, so how does that shift this dynamic of connecting, when A, you're now trying to connect with two people, but also how are you getting that bond between the two of them? It's kind of two-fold. Yeah so if we were photographing people, like maybe two people from the audience that didn't know each other, it's just the same kind of thing, finding some sort of common ground. Usually you can find that, like we all like sushi or something, so some of those things. Or I'll always try to get a collaborator on my side, so let's say it's the three of us are shooting. Or let's say 'cause you were my hair and makeup for her, she was my co-conspirator and if she can say to my subject oh you look great, you know so if I have three people and I'm not making sense. Here's my subject. I would be like hey let me just shoot this person first. I'm like that's awesome, isn't it? And if, only if it is. And then that person will help me and by the time that other person, the guy or girl, you know if two guys come in, like let's say, this is a good example. I was photographing pro baseball players in a gym. And the whole idea was for this workout supplement thing they used. And so it was like tough guys. And so I'm like let's photograph this guy. We did this thing where he had chalk and he hit his hands together and the chalk flew up. And before I did the two guys together, I did the one guy and the one guy saw what it looked like and he was like bro that was awesome. And then I said hey let's do it with both you guys. And then by that point they were in. Because it wasn't me validating the idea, it was the other person validating the idea. So I'm looking for that kind of validation. That was a really long way to answer a short question. But good question. I think it actually is a deeper question 'cause now you're adding lots of complexity. Yeah, yeah. And maybe the solution there is breaking up the complexity as you can and then bringing it together. You can't just mash people together instantly and expect it to happen. It's almost like you're Lego blocking it.

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!