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Capturing the Narrative

Lesson 5 of 9

Creating Your Story

Nigel Barker

Capturing the Narrative

Nigel Barker

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Lesson Info

5. Creating Your Story

Lesson Info

Creating Your Story

Okay, so we shot lots of great pictures up by that tree, in the car park. Of course, this is in fact, the location that I was after and this is the continuation of the story, but now having worked with Anna, and sort of seeing what she can do, comfort zone. We've broken into that a little bit. I now wanna really develop the story and I wanna use the location to do that, as well as her emotion, as well as her mood. This is gonna be the list of shots we're gonna do, right here, on this tree. I'm gonna do a nice, tight close up of her, even though she's quite far away from me. This really dramatic light coming through from the sky over here, casting a really strong, almost like... So, she's half lit, half dark, so quite a sharp shadow across her face. You may think I was gonna do a full length shot, but I'm gonna swap to the other side of the tree and shoot a full length silhouette shot, which will be about motion and the emotion coming out of her body, and then a more romantic shot in, r...

ight down there in the crux of the tree. So, three different shots, right here, one after the other. You ready? Yeah. Do you think we can do this? We can try. Okay, let's go for it. Toby, can I get my camera? I've changed lenses here. I've put the 70 to 200 on. I don't use this lens very often when I'm shooting things like this, like portraits, because I'm quite far from the subject, but in this particular instance, I wanna use the environment. I want her to use the environment, rather, to really, sort of, feel where she's at. When you look around you, you see this beautiful vista. It's really breathtaking. She doesn't need me so much to get in her mind. I want her to sort of take it all in and be present in the moment and I'm gonna sort of voyeuristically go in and try and capture that moment. Alright. Let's have a look. Beautiful there. Looking out to the sky. Beautiful. Really, really pretty. (camera clicks) Feel the wind. Gorgeous. You may notice as well, we've actually swept her hair back because those incredible cheek bones were hiding behind all that hair. It looks really gorgeous. Really nice, right there. (camera clicks) Straight out above me. Come a little, walk a little tighter. Walk a little closer to me. (camera clicks) Right there, in there. (wind blows) What are you thinking right now? Just thinking about the breeze. It feels nice. When you see the horizon, what does it make you think? (laughs) When you look at the horizon, I want you to think of all the possibilities. Remember we talked about you being this sort of activist? There's a lot that's wrong with the world, but there's a lot that's right with the world too. Look at that horizon and try and contemplate that moment. By giving her stories like this, this helps create a narrative. It brings out who she is and what she's about and having that thought process, when I really focus on her eyes, the story's there. And that's so important for me. (camera clicks) Here's another little trick. Instead of that, I want you to, do you like chocolate? I do. Okay. This is an old trick of mine. Imagine. I want you to imagine that you have a piece of chocolate in your mouth and it's melting in your mouth and you can taste it. Taste good? (laughs) So, just imagine that for a second. Look out at the horizon and think of something really delicious in your mouth. (camera clicks) Look at me. Straight to me. How good does it taste? Wish it was there. (laughs) What kind of chocolate do you like? Dark. (camera clicks) Gorgeous. Looking right above me. Beautiful. Look that way. Breathe. Okay, one more thing. I want you to scream. Yeah? Really scream. I wanna hear your voice. Okay. Are you ready for it? Yes. Okay. Okay, go on, give me a scream. (screams) (laughs) And again. Deeper. (screams loudly) Now just grab yourself, hold yourself. You feel alive now, huh? Now that seems really dramatic and really over the top, but trust me, by screaming and letting it out, you can't help but have a reaction. You just can't help it. And I've done this literally for 20 years. That particular thing. Sometimes I'm working with someone and it's all one way. The whole series of pictures is one look, one sort of style, and all of a sudden I say, "Okay, scream." And they're like, "What?" But, by screaming, it always clears the mind. It's almost like sneezing. You can't help but blink. You can't help yourself, and so screaming is a bit like that too. You just let it all out and all of a sudden, you're like on the other side of whatever you were at before. And I noticed, a lot changed, actually. Okay, so that was another reaction. I want you to, as I said, feel the sort of, grab your body. Because I'm feeling it too. There's a little bit of breeze coming up. Reacting to all these things helps tell that story. Just feel the breeze on your skin. Like the goosebumps. Looking out. Gorgeous. Beautiful. I think we're good. On to the other side of the tree. Anna and I have been shooting now on the other side of the tree. Now, let's shoot on this side of the tree, but I've photographed her with emotion, screaming, imagining things, dancing. I've got to see how she moves. So, now I can actually shoot a little faster and move a little quicker. Which is what happens. It's the natural flow in a photo shoot. And what I wanna do now is actually use a lot of her dance and her movement, but silhouette her. Quite often, sometimes, you can tell who someone is by their gait when they walk. By the way that they dance, by the way that they hold themselves. And so, it can be quite nice to do a portrait of someone just by using body language, and without making it all about the face. So, right now, it's exactly what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna silhouette you with this incredible vista behind you. I'm gonna have you dance along this trunk. Okay. Go for it. (camera clicks) Beautiful. Beautiful. I like the really wide arms. Long arms. Yeah, beautiful. Will you kick your leg up there too? Yeah. And go. Beautiful. A second. Relax one moment. I'm gonna go even faster. I'm at 1600th of a second at five six at ISO 100, by the way. So, really fast. In order to shut down all of this. And Toby's here, he's making sure I don't hurt myself. (laughs) Okay, here we go. Beautiful. Gorgeous, love this. Nice. Really pretty. Look at that. Beautiful. Can you fly? Yeah. Let me get to a better part of this. Go for it. Okay, Anna, one more time. And one more time. Okay, let me have a look. It's amazing. Let's do it again. This time with your arms back. You see, if you don't ask the questions sometimes, you don't know what someone can actually do. I was watching you move, and I'm like, you know what, if you would just fly, it would look amazing. And heck, you did it. Arms back? Yeah. Arms back. One, two, three, go. And again. Go. And again. Go. I don't wanna kill you. Whoo! Wow. Stay there. Although I said it was all about this big shot, your face looks gorgeous. I wanna come in and capture just a moment. When you see something, you've gotta grab it. Beautiful. Looking out there. Gorgeous, right there. Gorgeous view. Come down. How was that? Fun. That was amazing. Questionable. No, that was incredible. That was so amazing. You know, that great thing is, is that not everyone can do what do you just did. They can't move the way you can. They can't glide the way you can. The way you jump, the way you leapt, that was something, it was so specific to the fact that you're a dancer, that you know how to move. It looked amazing. And, as a part of a story on who you are as a feature, will be really beautiful because it speaks to exactly who you are. That was great. Now you ready to get quiet in this little-- Alright. nestle yourself into this little nook? Yes, let's do it. So, after all that jumping around and dancing, You know, you lose your breath, you know, you need a moment to calm down, but the great thing too is, is that, as you relax, it's a completely different look, once again. Doing all that physical activity helps you kind of like, you know, melt a little bit. And that's a whole another feeling, another emotion, another mood. So, it's really good to go directly from something really active and something really quiet. And you don't wanna miss that transition. You don't think, "I'm only gonna capture action." Because those in between quiet moments, when you're seriously exhausted, you're really a bit tired, are great. So let's get you right in here. Toby, can you bring in the reflector for me? Now, this is just gonna bounce in light and help fill. It's a little bit more shady in here. It's nice. Right in there. It's really pretty. And I have changed my settings. I am still at ISO 100, my shutter speed is 200, and I'm at F five six. Which, by the way, I like five six. (laughs) It's just, I guess it's, you know, everyone has an F-stop that they like. And I like, not a shallow, and not a long. I like it to, to just be right in the middle. And it's, for me, it's just my happy spot. It's part of, I guess, the style of the way I like to shoot. Gorgeous. Little dark. Gonna open up a tiny bit. I'm going to one, two, five, my shutter speed. I'm just opening up. Beautiful, right there. Gorgeous. I like that, I like eyes closed. Do that. Breathe. Gorgeous. Kick back. Imagine I'm not even here. Just have a little moment to yourself. What are you thinking about? I'm comfortable and it's nice to sit down. Relax. Bring your face down this way. Stay sat there. Eyes up. Gonna come right above you. Grab hold of me. Toby is grabbing my pants so I don't actually fall on top of her, which does help. (laughs) There ya go. I think I'm okay, Tobs. Gonna come down. Just gonna move in here, you stay as you are looking that way. At often times, as I'm working around my subject, you know, you're looking for angles, you're looking for shots, and when I replicate what they're doing and I get into their space, it's interesting, 'cause again, I get to see what they're looking at, I get to see their view. Get to appreciate it for a moment. Beautiful. (mumbles) Gorgeous there. Just bring your eyes around to me slowly there. Not even so much, looking off in that direction. Eyes up higher, look into the bright, into high, into the sky. Over there. Bring both your hands up, to behind your head. Just bring it around like that, so you frame your face like that. I'm using the arm to help frame the picture here. Sun's gone up. Going back to my original setting of 200. Actually, I might go to 250. Move your face round again, scoop back a little bit into the shade a bit more. There you go. Arm up, like you had it. And looking profile. Even more profile. Beautiful there. (camera clicks) Come on Toby, even closer. There you go. Gorgeous there, really, really pretty. Hand down. Keep the hand up on the head, but just bring your other hand down. Swap them, bring that hand down a bit, there. (laughs) Gorgeous, gorgeous. Have a look. Looking really pretty. Coming round, now we've got the sun. Now, in this particular instance, it's a quiet shot, but the sun is really playing a really nice role here. The light coming round. Really, really pretty. I wanna reduce the fill. Maybe give me a little side of fill. It just picks up a little, even more, go back over there Tobs. Bit more. Yeah. Just like that. Beautiful. Face round there. Gorgeous there. Relax the eyes. That little rye smile. And the hand down. There. (camera clicks) Just a little tweak with the eyes. Make little smiles just through those eyes. Then otherwise, I'll go make you scream again. (laughs) You can laugh. Gorgeous. How was that? Cool. You all right? Yeah. Awesome. Rocking. We got it.

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.