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Capturing the Narrative

Lesson 4 of 9

Preparing Your Model for the Shoot

Nigel Barker

Capturing the Narrative

Nigel Barker

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Lesson Info

4. Preparing Your Model for the Shoot

Lesson Info

Preparing Your Model for the Shoot

So as you can see, I'm building to the set. I've brought in a reflector to bounce light on this side. I've brought in this big, black flag to knock out light on this other side. And that's just to add to the drama from a lighting perspective. Now, I've been shooting at her now just a little bit for the past little five, 10 minutes. And those first first photographs are really educational for me, for the photographer, because you get to see how someone moves. Most people have a few moves. They just have them. They're built-in. It's their go-to. It's their mirror face. It's whatever it might be, that they think that they look good doing. And oftentimes, when you've looked at the person's portfolio, you've seen their pictures, or their covers of the magazines, or their album covers, whatever it is. You can see that, oh, those moves. And now, I've sort of gone through that with Anna. There's also that chemistry and that relationship that's sort of been built up over that. There's a trust t...

hat's developed. At this point, you want to start adding to the storyline. You want to start developing that narrative and bringing out other aspects of who she is, and potentially make a more exciting picture. So that's what we're going to do right now. We're going to take it one step further. All righty. Let me just have a little light test here. Just added a few new elements. Nice, light looks gorgeous. Beautiful, right there. Okay, now let's put your dance to use. Let's really play off this whole area here. Nice. Beautiful there. That's nice. When you hang off the tree, it's beautiful. Gorgeous. Swing that head back. Beautiful there. I'm going to come right in. Flex the eyes. Bring the head down, now, more. Now you can even hear my tone of voice As I'm talking to her, I'm almost whispering. And that's partly because I can see when she starts to get into her moment, I'm not trying to shatter that. I'm trying to encourage, I'm trying to coax. And I find, personally, that sort of a quieter, that more whispering kind of voice, it becomes very much between just her and me. It's our own little conversation that's happening. I'm not trying to talk to a whole bunch of people. That's nice, right there. Beautiful. You're looking right over there, right over my shoulder. Flex the face. Breathe out. Smile with those eyes. You've heard of that expression before, right? Smile with your eyes? Otherwise known, AKA as a smise, which, you know, I'm afraid that's happened. That's actually a real word these days, I think. But it's important, because I don't want your face to change, but I want your eyes to just pick up. Nice, very pretty. Beautiful. Really nice. Grab your hair with both hands and pull it from both sides. Let's bring that hair into the picture. Can you pull it on either side even wider? Right on the edges, yeah, that's nice. Flex the face. Bite your lip. Let go. Okay, shake it all out. Okay, now, okay. On your toes for me. And I want to have a little movement. And we can sort of play with your legs a little bit so we have some movement. And I think, too, that will help take your mind, as well, into your body and the flow, versus that sort of modeling moment. You can almost ignore me. And I'm going to come in and shoot you, okay? I want you to move, if possible. Please. There you go, nice. Gorgeous. Even more. Imagine I'm over there, someone's right over there. So by doing this, you can see she's in her moment. This is what you do. She has a natural rhythm. It's all coming out. And it was actually great. I got a couple of shots where your hair came down, you looked at me through your hair. I hadn't got that shot before, partly because we were so set. And when you started moving, the hair started falling in the way, perhaps, we wouldn't have wanted it. But it looked great. And it's those moments of spontaneity that I think sometimes are the magic that we want to capture. I know you can sing. I've heard you can sing. Would you sing a little bit for me? Oh, no way. Come here, let me just knock a little... There you go. Do you have any requests? How about just the scales? No! What kind of singing do you do? I don't know. I can sing jazz. Do you want me to sing? Okay. You know what I love about this? I love the fact that... You see what I'm getting right here? Evil! This gorgeous smile, which, by the way, even if I don't get her to sing, the point of the matter is that I've got this great smile. I wasn't prepared for that. Well, that's what I'm trying to do, is catch you off guard a little bit, you know? Because now, it becomes very sweet. Your inner self is coming out. And you're a little shy, you're a little embarrassed, but you're going to sing, aren't you? Oh, god. Come on. Anything's good, anything. Just a scale, or you can hum. (hums) So all kinds of moments there. All kinds of beautiful moments. Your mind, you can't be blank at that point, because you've got to think of singing, you've got to think of moving. There's so many obstacles in the way that are actually not in the way, but are actually helping. My problem is when I take a photograph of someone and there's nothing there, and they're just being pretty and being beautiful. And we got loads of pretty pictures of you, but then you took it to a whole other place. And it wasn't even just dancing, but because of the noise and the sound, it really, really worked. You want to say something? No, no. And it felt better to be distracted, for sure. Good. Hey, there you go. You heard it straight from her. Terbie, let's bring a little bit of that wind. We haven't got a wind machine out here, but we do have a fan. There you go, beautiful. You feel that in your hair a little bit? Nice. Yeah, look at that smile. That's a half-smile. They're all little things. All these things are little tricks. I mean, even if it doesn't move the hair, it creates some action. It creates a distraction. And actually, there were little moments there where the hair moved, and it just kind of did its thing, which I loved. And I love your smile. And I know you keep going back to the kind of really pretty look. But your smile is super beautiful, super beautiful. And I'm going to shoot through the tree a little bit here, too. That's gorgeous, right there. Really nice. Just this tree, it helps... It's adding to the story, to these little moments. Really beautiful. A little wider. That's nice. Are you able to stand on that? Gorgeous, really gorgeous. Are you strong in this moment? Beautiful, there. Gorgeous. Gorgeous. Put your hands together, maybe there. Over here? Yeah. Maybe put it to your hair to clear your face a little bit. Right across your forehead. That's nice, there. Lean the other way. Shake it all out. Beautiful. Gorgeous. It's important, actually... And I actually made a mistake, just then. I gave her an instruction, and I put my camera down to do it. And then she gave me this great smile. And of course, my camera wasn't up capturing that moment. And that's something you have to remember, because some of the magic moments you get are not exactly voyeuristic, but they're the in-between camera moments. And it can be quite frustrating when you're like, ugh, almost got it. Ugh, almost got that. But I think it's important just, if you can, give that instruction behind camera so that you can be right on it. As she does, what she's going to do, these natural, gorgeous moments. Okay, I'm going to try and come up here, too. And I'll move you back into this tree a little bit more. Yeah, maybe play off here. Right in here. Gorgeous, that's nice, that's nice. I like that. Can you bring in the reflector, Terbie? So we're just bringing in the reflector to bounce what little dappled light is actually around, just to give it a little kick here and there. Nice. Hold that, let me have a look. Just open up a tiny bit. Unlock the camera, which is always a good idea. It's always a good idea to actually lock, because if you don't lock it and you're shooting away and you accidentally change your aperture or your f-stop, it's a nightmare. So I'm going to unlock it, and I'm going to open up. I was at 125. I'm going to go to 100. I might go to 80 as the speed. And I'm going to lock it again. All righty, so it's a little slower. So with the movement, too, we can go just a little slower. Gorgeous, beautiful. Breathe out. And you know what? I think we have it here. We got it before I killed myself. And we are going to go and actually change location, and continue on with this story, and develop the story even further. And that's what we do. Next location.

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.