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Capturing the Narrative

Lesson 2 of 9

Know Your Subject

Nigel Barker

Capturing the Narrative

Nigel Barker

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Lesson Info

2. Know Your Subject

Lesson Info

Know Your Subject

So before I bring my model on, let me talk to you about why it's so important to research who you're going to shoot. Knowledge is power and ultimately what that really means is that the more you know about who you're going to shoot, the more you can kind of anticipate who they might be, how they might react, what you can get out of them. So I like to do everything from look them up on the internet, look at their Facebook page, look at their Instagram account, check out their website. Potentially, see what other work they've done. I ask in advance what they like to eat. I look at all the things that they might have been in. If I'm photographing an actor, for example, you can see all the movies that they they've been in. The more you know about that person, when they come on to set, and you can talk to them about their career, or talk to them about what they like to do, or about their life, they feel special. And that's one part of it, making them feel comfortable, but it also helps you ...

know what they can do, how far they've been pushed, how far you can push them, and also what they haven't done. That's another thing. As a photographer you don't necessarily want to just shoot an updated picture. You may want to actually capture something brand new for them. So yeah, you go and get the safe shot, but you can also find something that hasn't been done before, and that's when it gets exciting. Pushing the boundaries, for me, is always what it's about. Taking a risk on yourself, on the subject, that's where the magic is. You have to have the confidence to do that, but you have to build up the confidence in who you're shooting. And so by having that knowledge, by having that sort of insider information on whoever you're shooting, it just adds to your ability to capture the moment.

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.