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Photographic Technique

Lesson 48 from: Capturing Story in Portrait Photography

Kelly Brown

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Lesson Info

48. Photographic Technique

Gain insight into different tricks and techniques involved in creating an image. From building a connection with clients to demonstrate poses, pick up additional portrait photography tips using different techniques with a photography contest in mind.


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


The Power of Portrait Photography


Introduction to Newborn Portrait


Find Inspiration for Newborn Portrait


Create The Scene for Newborn Portrait


Prepare & Pose Newborn for Portrait


Shoot: Techniques for Photographing Newborn


Newborn Image Review


Introduction & Find Inspiration For Child Portrait


Create The Scene for Child Portrait


Prepare Set for Child Portrait


Shoot: Capture Child Portrait


Image Review for Child Portrait


Introduction & Inspiration For Teenager Portrait


Create The Scene for Teenager Portrait


Building Set for Teenager Portrait


Shoot: Portrait with Teenager


Shoot: Pose Teenager for Multiple Looks


Image Review for Teenage Portrait


Introduction & Inspiration For Adult Portrait


Creating The Scene for Adult Portrait


Lighting for Adult Portrait


Tell Your Subject's Story


Shoot: Lighting for Double Exposure


Introduction to Senior Portrait


Create Storyboard & The Scene For Senior Portrait


Connect With Client to Create Portrait


Shoot: Lighting for Senior Portrait


Shoot: Be Creative on Set


Image Review for Senior Portrait


Portrait Shoots Recap


Global Adjustments in Camera Raw®


Editing In Photoshop® CC: New Born Portrait


Editing In Photoshop® CC: Child Portrait


Editing In Photoshop® CC: Adult Portrait


Editing In Photoshop® CC: Teenager Portrait


Editing In Photoshop® CC: Senior Portrait


Introduction to Entering Print Competitions


Process of Print Competitions


What to Consider For Print Competitions


What Judges Look For Overview


Image Impact


Creativity, Style & Composition in Images


Entering Photography Competitions Q&A


Image Lighting


Image Color Balance


Technical Excellence in Images


Photographic Technique


Storytelling & Subject Matter


Lesson Info

Photographic Technique

When it comes to photographic technique, there's quite a lot you've got to consider. You've got to look at your posing and when we talk about posing, a lot of it is connection and body language. I actually did a body language course a very, very long time ago and learned a lot about people's body language. So when it comes to posing, it's funny how, subconsciously, I actually bring a lot of that into what it is that I'm doing, and I use some of the techniques that I learned throughout that course to make my clients relax. One thing that I always do is talk them through the entire process and I show them exactly how I want them to sit. So, throughout the storytelling class, I showed and demonstrated exactly how I wanted everyone to stand and sit. And every single client that comes into my studio, and this was a client, and, you know, I knew she had triplets so I've come up, before she's even got there, with an idea and a concept, and I had to lay down on the floor, and show her exactly ...

how I wanted her to lay, and sometimes it can look really awkward but, you know, this woman's just given birth to three babies (laughs). The poor thing. Like, I'm making her get down on the floor. So when it comes to any of those sort of things, you've gotta take into consideration the age of the person that you are photographing. You wouldn't come up with a concept like this for an elderly person, that's for sure. But, you know, the comfort, when it comes to posing. You know, the energy that you want to deliver with that particular pose. The connection that you want to create when it comes to photographing couples and how you have them come together, and use of fabric to bring people closer together. Or even just to give them, you know, some form of statuesque. So, when it comes to posing, it doesn't always have to be glamorous and beautiful, you know? It can be quite, sort of different, depending on the story that you actually wanna tell. And then, again, lighting. So, here, this photographic technique that judges are looking for. They're making sure that the direction of that light is perfect, it's not creating any unflattering shadows, but what they're also looking for is detail, everywhere. So, it's a little hard to see here, but in the print of this, you can see all the detail in her hair, every single strand, and when you can control those highlights and shadows with lighting, and bring out all of that detail, judges are just gonna go wow. That's pretty amazing. I recently saw a photograph of it was a bear at WPPI, and when I looked at this photograph, the detail was insane. Every single hair on this bear looked like it was in absolute focus. It was absolutely incredible. So depending on what it is that you're photographing in terms of the subject, the age of that subject, and how you want to capture all of that detail, the lighting is really important. Because if there's not enough light back here, then those shadows are gonna lose a lot of that detail. Composition for something like this, we've got our rule of thirds and we've got our mom and babies smack bang in the middle of those top two thirds, heavily weighted with the design of the dress coming down. The dress there has added another element to this image that, for me, just creates an art piece. I put the dress there. I could have cropped in tighter. I did in one of my images that I entered into awards. I actually cropped it as a circle around there. I lost the bottom. And it didn't do as well as the full crop. But I suppose when you look at it from a compositional value, that negative space really adds to the impact of her, and the flowing lines of that dress come up, from the bottom corner, come up and lead you up into her. The circular lines lead you to her face and lead you in to these babies. All of those different factors, those leading lines, the composition of this, have impact. They're huge when you consider that overall look and feel of an image. And then when it comes to ISO, and we're still talking about this photographic technique, the ISO on your camera, obviously, if you're limited with light, you gotta bump your ISO up. So when you're planning out an award shot, an award entry, you wanna make sure that you're using the right amount of light so that you don't have to shoot with 3200 ISO. Because if you don't nail that exposure, you're gonna have a lot of problems with noise and grain and banding. When you increase ISO what you are doing is you are sacrificing a lot of the quality of that photograph. So the lower your ISO, the more quality, the more amount of information in that file. And that's what it does. I wanna make sure that when I'm taking into consideration how I'm gonna light this, that there's enough light there that I don't have to continually bump up my ISO to sacrifice some of the quality of that file, because it all comes back to that print quality. And then your lens choice. This is huge. So we often see a lot of photographs shot at wide angles, and unless you're going for a very artistic creative style of portrait, a wide angle is not very flattering when it comes to photographing people. So if you consider your lens to be long and straight, that's at a very long focal length. As the lens gets wider, and just say for example I'm photographing you, the wider the lens comes, the wider this becomes, the closer I have to actually get to you to fill the frame with you. So say for example we've got a 200 mm lens here, for me to photograph here with say a 35 mm lens, I'm gonna have to come quite close to fill the frame. Therefore, parts of you are gonna become distorted as they get closer to the end of the lens, if that makes sense. When I'm shooting a portrait like this and I do not wanna get on a ladder above her because she's got three babies in her hands and for safety, I'm going to shoot with the camera strap around my neck, I shoot with a 24 to 70 lens so it gives me lots of versatility. I stood to the side of her over here and I held the camera, so her head was here and her body's here and I'm standing, and I've got the camera out there and I can just see the back of my LCD screen to see if I've got her exactly where I need her to be on my live view. I've photographed her. I've taken quite a few captures to make sure that I've got it in focus. But I've had to shoot that at quite a wide angle. So therefore I've got to fix any lens distortion that I have in post. It's a bit of a sacrifice, but I'm not gonna sacrifice the safety of a baby to get a long focal length. So that's just not what I'm about. But if I wasn't photographing babies, I'd still have to be very, very considerate of all the safety elements when it comes to photographing, say for example, a lady laying down on the floor, but I would use a longer focal length and I would use a higher perspective to take that shot so that I'm not sacrificing any distortion or perspective for the sake of shooting with a wide angle lens. When I shoot with a long lens, then I'm usually shooting children, I'm shooting adults, teenagers, all of that. And I'll probably stick to around that 70 mm focal length. And that's gonna allow me to not have to be too far away, but to also not have any distortion in that photograph. But it all depends with that lens what the style of photograph is. If you're shooting detail, then you wanna use a macro lens. If you're shooting full pullback shots like this, then you might wanna use a 70 mm focal length or a 50, but be prepared to have to fix some distortion if you are shooting with a wide angle lens. Because if you do and it wasn't necessary or it should have been shot with a longer focal length, the judges are gonna spot that. We can see distortion. Whenever I'm judging in the baby categories I'll often see a very large head and a very small body or small feet. So always look at the perspective and how in proportion all of the body parts are to that photograph. So then the exposure again, talking about all of that. But all of these things have to be considered. And in conjunction with creating photographs of absolute technical excellence. It is a lot to take in but when you consider all of these different elements within one photograph and you do the work, there is a lot of hard work into this and that's why I talked earlier about how much pressure I put on myself. And I've set that standard really high. But it's because I want to increase my standard level of excellence. I wanna be at a higher level. I wanna know that I'm creating work that I've never created before because if I just keep creating the same old, same old, I'm gonna get bored. I'm gonna lose my inspiration. I'm gonna lose my push and my drive. And for me, the only way that I can succeed is if I keep that drive and determination fueled by continually wanting to exceed my standards, if that makes sense.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Mind Map & Prep Guide

Ratings and Reviews


Among a sea of wonderful teachers here at CL, Kelly is the cream of the crop. All of her classes are outstanding and this one is no exception. Amazing teacher. Amazing class. Amazing education. If you are hoping to stretch yourself to create deeper more meaningful stories in your images, or are feeling the pull of print competition but need some direction, this is definitely the class for you. Thank you Kelly!

Melissa Soto

Kelly Brown is a true inspiration. She has been my idol in this industry since I began. This class was amazing. I love how honest, authentic and genuine she was. But most importantly I loved her wise direction and teaching style. Kelly brown thank you for this gem. You helped light a fire in me. I’m so excited to start telling amazing stories with the skills I have learned from this class.

Marjorie Stevenson

Just loving this class! Kelly is one of my favorite instructors. She is very good at articulating her ideas and carrying them to an absolutely wonderful end product. Her images are always stunning. I love that she always puts safety first with her models. Thank you Kelly for sharing your creative visions with us.

Student Work