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Capturing the Narrative

Lesson 7 of 9

Commercial Client Shoot

Nigel Barker

Capturing the Narrative

Nigel Barker

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Lesson Info

7. Commercial Client Shoot

Lesson Info

Commercial Client Shoot

So my next subject is Ivan Salaverry, who has a gym in Seattle called "Ivan's Gym" which is a boxing gym amongst other things; fighting gym, boxing gym. Ivan. My pleasure, my pleasure. Look how quiet he is. I love it. This is classic, by the way, with a lot of you fighters and boxers. And I've shot quite a few people like yourself over the years and it's funny because you have a feeling about how someone's going to be, you know? I look you up online and I see these pictures of you fighting, and it's sweat dripping and you're a UFC contender and it could be intimidating. But actually, I see this great smile and there's so much to you as a person. We're gonna shoot some shots for you and for your gym. But first of all, I want to find out how you move. And that's one of the things I always do. Is just run through that gamut of getting to see just how someone generally moves before I introduce too many ideas and too many things. So, very simply, Ivan. I'm gonna stand you here, feel the lig...

ht on you, feel it hitting you. And just the way you are right now, I love this stoic look. We're going to keep that. So I'm gonna move you right over there. Turn to me. Just like that. And feel the sun on your body. That's nice. Gorgeous. Nice there. Beautiful. Beautiful. Can we bring in a bounce turvy? Sure thing. Want a big one or a small one? Bring the big one. Look at that. Just on the side of his face. So look how we're doing here. Beautiful. Really strong. Very nice, Ivan. You feel the stones under your feet. Yes, sir. So Ivan. One of the things I can immediately do to sort of create the image, to make him feel like that larger-than-life character by coming down really low, he stands there. Look out to the sun. Bring your head down a little bit. you get a sense of drama because I've come so low he becomes really large because the sort of fighter aspect. Turn your body towards me, twist it to me. Getting your feet a little closer together. There you go. Now look down over here, look down towards the ground. Beautiful there. You can stay standing but go back up again. I wanna capture this good glamorous shot of you. Look down where my hand is here. There, right there. One second, wait for background. Beautiful. This is a great shot. Hold it there. Now, this is something I like to do that I've used over the years, specifically with athletes. And it's to sort of remind you, in a way, of why you're here, what you're doing here. Quite often, an athlete such as yourself, you know you are at home if you're in the ring You're at home if you're on the mat. You're at home if you've got your mitts on. Because those are all things that you do. That's your happy place, that's your comfort zone, That is home for you. If I put you into an environment like this, absolutely it's beautiful and as a man you feel the sun in your face and you react as a person, as a human being. But I don't necessarily get every essence that I'm looking for. So what I'm gonna do I'm gonna ask you to imagine, take yourself back, when did you first start fighting? A child. About 12-13. Correct. I read it. (laughs) I read your bio, so you were about 12-13. Correct. And you started fighting. And think of all the years that you've trained. How old are you now if I may ask. 47. 47. So for literally, what is that? 30 odd years you've been training, you've been fighting. I want you to think of that. I want you to look out into the skyline, right over there. Look into the sky. Right, that's right. Now turn the tiniest bit to me. And just imagine, remember what you've been through. All those years, take yourself back. The fights, the tears, the blood, the wins, the losses. Remember some of those fights. Remember one fight. A fight where it was really tough, really difficult, but you won. At the end you beat the person you were fighting, you beat the person you were fighting and you won. I want you to just take yourself back to that very moment and what it meant to you. (groans) Told you! Beautiful. Look straight at me. See what I did just then is something which is very interesting. He didn't know I was going to do that. No. (laughs) You had no idea. And you gotta be careful but you also have to take risks with things. This is something I did years ago. I was actually photographing a heavy-weight boxer and he was standing in front of me, kind of like you, really nice, really sweet guy. I just couldn't get that sort of fire, couldn't get the fire. And finally, I did what I just did then. I pushed and it was almost a mistake. I got a great shot but his reaction was immediate like to punch me. And then he stopped and started apologizing. But the fire was there, the fighter came out. And as a photographer you often have to take some risks. You have to push the envelope. You've gotta make the magic. If we were in a ring and I was shooting you I wouldn't need to. I would just more realistically shoot you fighting. Correct. But right here right now, in this beautiful environment, to get that fire, and I saw your reaction. You immediately went into combat mode. That's special. And even if the picture's blurred, even if it's out of focus even if there's camera shade, all of that from a portrait standpoint, really works really really nicely and helps create the narrative which is what we're after. The story. Who is Ivan? What's his life story? What's he about? Where's he going? Ivan's gym and all of that. Don't do that again. (laughs) I won't do that again. And I promise I won't do that again. I got that shot. I got that shot. But now what we're gonna do is some pictures for your gym. So we're gonna bring in some props to help relate the setting, to who you are and what you do. We've got a hammer, we've got some wraps for your hands, we've got a great big rope. We're gonna have some fun, we're gonna create some magic. Let's bring in these heavy props for these. So we're gonna take some pictures now for Ivan's business Ivan's Gym. And this is something you use in the gym, right? Correct. And you're normally just doing a big core workout with it. Right now, just having these elements help tie certain pictures together. And also it's something you're familiar with. Which is kind of nice. It's heavy. Correct. So that's also a thing. And these are all elements. I know that you're big and you're strong and it's gonna get heavy. Use the weight of it too, the uncomfortableness of it. Make that apart of the story not just something that's awkward, you know? I always like to think of everything. The rocks under your feet, the wind that's blowing against your skin, the weight of the rope. Just like when you're fighting. All aspects. You're fully alert, you're fully into the picture. I want your spirit to come out. I want you to feel that rope. You know what that rope feels like, you know what that rope burn feels like. Right when you're going for it, the pain. That moment that you're still strong and that you're still stoic. Okay, let's feel that. That's a nice one there. Relax the face even more, just breathe out. Nice right there. Gorgeous. Really strong. Can you lift that rope over above your head? It's okay, let it fall, let it fall. That's good right there. Just like that. Right there. Really nice. Really nice, right there. Okay, relax. Try the rope down. Hold on, that's good. Just like that. Sometimes you just see moments. I'm not sure exactly what's gonna happen and then he moves and I'm like "wait wait that looks great!" Try to steady your body. Grab the other end of the rope that's hanging down. Just like this. Bring it around. And grab the rope with your other hand. This one too if you can. There you go, there you go. The rope don't beat me. Exactly right. (laughs) Don't beat me. There you go. Watch out. (laughs) There you go. Nice like that. Perfect. That's nice. Stand as straight as you can, as tall as you can. Looking down at the ground. Nice there. Just like that and just your eyes up. There you go. Out to sea. Nice. Beautiful. Right there. Beautiful. These look amazing. Really really amazing. Again looking out like that. Not as much, come around, small movements. That's great. All right, Ivan, let's drop the rope. Let's bring in the hammer. Thank you very much. Here, something I had in my back pocket. (groans) (laughs) How heavy is that? This is my baby right here, 20. 20 pounds? 20 pounds. Okay. Now I want you to feel the weight of it. It's very real, it's 20 pounds, it's no joke. And again, that's something to play against. Use it, feel it, move it, get familiar with it. Do all of those things that you would normally do. Just don't hurt anyone. Getting down here. Nice there. Bring it up- yeah, good. Nice. And again. Gonna open up to 2:50 at 5:6 there have a little light test. We're good, let's do it. Okay, I want to see you hit something. Let's hit the rope on the rocks obviously we don't want the rocks to spit out at you but I'd love to see that full action coming in. Now I'm gonna be quite close cause I wanna get- Does it matter which arm you want? Doesn't matter for me, whichever. Whatever arm you'd like to hit with. Great. And again. And again. Great. And again. Beautiful. I'm coming in tighter. Don't hit me. And again. And again. Beautiful. Swing it over your shoulder. Just like that. Boom. There you go. Let's see a bit more of it. Like that. Beautiful. Gorgeous. Look at that. I've shot my card. Doesn't happen too often with me. I have so many great shots. That was amazing. We got that. That was fantastic. Well done.

Class Description

The more you know about the subject you’re photographing, the better the image will be. Internationally renowned photographer Nigel Barker wants to show you the best methods to connect with your subject and how to bring out the story using lighting and direction. In this class, Nigel will show you in a live shoot:

  • How to connect with your subject using conversation
  • How lighting and posing can create the story
  • Different ways to connect with commercial and corporate clients
  • Ways to use the environment to create different and creative portraits that the client might not have expected

Connecting with subject establishes trust and allows you to craft a story behind an image. When you can create a story in a single frame, you'll be able to capture the imagination of the viewer and your clients.

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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Brenda Pollock Smith

Nigel brilliantly demonstrates how to connect soul to soul. He uses his finely tuned empathic gifts and transforms them into art. This class will help you relax, trust and find what is real and honest in your subject. I love his flow and intuitive approach to creating a narrative with passion and soul. I want all of his classes in my library, he's just that amazing.


The feeling of this class is one of the Joy of the Why we do this. His excitement is perhaps the best lesson. Talking through the working with the models was VERY instructive. Not an overblown, pretentious, too techie, I am impressing you with me, type of class. Loved it!

Stefan Legacy

Nigel is an excellent teacher. He always explains everything he does which in turn helps you understand why he's doing it. Short but effective course for someone looking to learn how to capture people and get comfortable with shooting them.