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Experimental Portraiture

Lesson 8 of 14

Experimenting with More Props

Jeremy Cowart

Experimental Portraiture

Jeremy Cowart

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Lesson Info

8. Experimenting with More Props

Lesson Info

Experimenting with More Props

I have another question. Jeremy, Uh, where have you found some? This is from Amy G. In the chat room. Where have you found some of your best props? Vintage stores? Friend's houses? Etcetera. Um, it's funny. I need to shop a lot more for props. I usually very much in the moment. I mean, when I try to find an interesting, um, interesting location and use what's there? I knew a couple photographers in Nashville. They literally have a whole truck of stuff that they just bring to every photo shoot in case. And I think, actually think that's really smart, cause there are some locations where you've just got nothing to work with, and so you don't have to have a whole truck beating. If you have a few things in your car, it's good. It's Get Teoh. Bring a few things onto your shoot toe, have just in case. Um, but I mean General, you know, antique stores, E bay, borrowing things from friends, you know, you should get Zach's wife to take you with that. She get Zach's wife to take you. She good. Sh...

e gets shopper for that stuff. That's awesome. Cool. Any other questions For now, I have a question from Christina. Do you feel comfortable having clients come already packed with their own ideas? And what if you hate their ideas, happens all the time? I mean, ultimately, their hiring me to a lot of times achieved their their ideas. And so, um and so, you know, you know, we want to work with a pair of bills all the time, of the jobs that that aren't that great. Aren't you know that? Interesting. But, you know, we just want to keep working as photographers, and there are some that I dread, and sometimes they do turn him down. Um, but most the time. I tryto you keep clients happy and, uh, keep paying my bills and just get the job done. Did the best I can. So following. Yeah. You find it more difficult to execute their exact division creative ideas, Or is it ever exactly what they pictures it? Kind of. Ah, because you said very rarely yesterday that you have ah, specific vision in mind and you execute that specific vision. So how is it that when you're trying to execute a client's vision How was that? How? How difficult is that for you executed vision that I'm not really into you or just somebody else's vision. It's a frequent used to because that's the case most of the time. And I like being I mean, that kind of saying Yes, I like the teamwork of me having Teoh, you know, take what they kind of want and we bring it to life that that was the whole top restless behind Life Finder. But it does get interesting when the when you think that is really bad. And it's like, well, and admit it's the same, like with music producers, when they have to produce an artist that they don't like it all, you know? But that's I think, what makes us get photographers, you know them or you can bring to life, the more you're gonna get hired. You know, I like to think that I could I want to say that I could shoot anything whether you want me to shoot a lifestyle job, whether you want me to go shoot, you know, a travel job or whether you want me to shoot a band, I'd like to think I could dio there. There are plenty of things that. I don't think I get, like, I don't know how to light a car, have shot cars before, but cheating cars is the whole science in and of itself. So I know. I know a lot of people that are just amazing with cars, You know, I haven't done a lot of sports photography, so But, you know, I'd like to think that as a photographer, we are capable of achieving anything. If we have a good eye, so does that. Answer your question. Okay, So what we're gonna do here? No, we don't need a number, Alan. We're We're done with glitters a numberless for now. Let me get my finger out of there. Um, So, uh, we're gonna actually take this off the pole, and I need her. You think of shoes off single beach order for one. Um, I think that I'm going to try to make a okay, a circle, and it's probably gonna That probably means the I'll just hand holding it. And then Becca, if we could grab a stool for you. Uh, this next shot is very, very applicability to my portfolio because a lot of times it's something as simple as you know, combining two things that air, silver and a really bright color and making an amazing image. And that's the kind of thing that when people look at my portfolio, they're like, Oh, that's an amazing location. Amazing shot. Um, how long did it take to come up with that idea, or where do you find that location like, Well, none of that really happened. We just kind of improvised with what we had and made a shot happen. So yesterday, as we were kind of sitting up all the props, I realized we had this nice, shiny paper. We had this nice, shiny wall, and we also have a nice silver gun somewhere. Do you guys know where that is? Okay. And so I'm gonna attempt to create a very almost James Bond kind of shot with her crazy, loud red coat here, Um, again, none of this plan. So you guys really are seeing all of these ideas? Kind of. I mean, it wasn't planning to add it if she'd be wearing this red coat, so we didn't plan that, But I think that red coat will pop amazingly on this reel role. Sliver of Ah, real cool sliver of a silver while we have. So ultimately, what I'm gonna do is, um I would like to do this. Almost make a It's a tunnel of silver here. I'm infected. Might need more people to help hold this up. That would begin. Becca, you Where's the stool? All right, there again. I don't know if this is gonna work it all. I have no clue. We haven't. We haven't tested this. So you gonna face straight out, you know? Face me. Straight up. Yeah, right there. And skewed over. I'm a sinner. You perfectly with the silver background that's going get the ring light out, get over just a little more. And then, um, lower our silver thing, and then you guys are gonna basically wrap it around. I want to see a tunnel. Her lower lower here said, can we get even more? Another assistant in here? Hold this thing up. I'm a website. There's a shot of a girl named Rebecca ST James, and we kind of did something similar to this. We had this big, bendable mirror and I don't know why I brought it to that shoot. Somebody had it in their garage. And I said, Hey, can I borrow that and says this big mirror And I had just like this About six people wrapping this thing around a piece of wallpaper, and it made this crazy effect with the ring light. So we're gonna, like, literally drop this where it's only encompassing the silver part, seeking to split up, fall like that. Lower on the back down there, All the way down to the silver. Yep. You know, let's do this. Put it over. Yep. Exactly. Begin. Yeah. Now we're talking. And then give them more slack Rotated over this way. Eso we nap. So now we have this crazy, bright red we've got, um, it's cool. Silver gun, the school silver paper, Bright red lipstick That shot, I think should look really cool without having to try and try and try like we just did with the umbrella. Um, And trata another is tricky, but try to keep this a little bit straight. Yeah, that's perfect. And then, uh, puts pushed down on that. That backside. There you go. Yeah. So, once I'm ready here in a second, this is exactly what we need to Teoh. Keep pulling up. Um Yeah, I'm gonna shoot through the ring, like I think so. Like I was saying yesterday, um, this is a ring light. I think you're probably familiar with them. Um, but I don't use these a lot. They do come in handy sometimes. Especially on a shot like this, where you can't really like this, you know, from above or behind him. In this, the only angle we have it straight on. And so that's why ring light works as I can put my lens through that through the ring light and make the shot happen. And ideally, ideally, I would have a lot more of this paper. I would love for that paper to come out all the way to here and just shoot all the way through that. But we have to improvise. I mean, this is very, very, you know, kind of real world things. I'm gonna use the longer lens so I can start start my crop right here. In fact, we have any thick tape. I know we have gifted really thick. Here we go. Um, because what I'm thinking is we can, uh What's that? We can take this on that to keep that Yeah. See if this helps. Uh, either way, so basically with the shot, I only want to see a lot of silver and a lot of Ah, I mean, I only want to see Becca in our little tunnel here already. Maybe this guy and let's Yeah, that Think that lens should work. Yeah, I like I like how you kind of have your out. So push it. Pushers that out a little bit of give me a little more spread standards. Willie willed, sir. Chase. That makes sense. Weirdo. I kid, I kid, um That's my 1200 packer. That's not 600. Okay, um, let's keep that charge to in case we need it for actually, we'll need it for later. Um, cool. Either way, actually, that's my work. Sodini. Actually, I think this pack wait. There we go. I thought I was dead, but it's good. Um, yeah. So these ring lights are extremely powerful, so I'm going to use a 600 pack instead of a 24 100 pack. Um, to kind of not personal, not blind her. But also, I don't need that much power to make the shot happen. So you're going to give me the whole, you know, gun straight to the to the camera thing. Yeah, right there. Let's just see if this works again. Ideally, I would have mawr, um, mawr length in that silver of disconnected. Okay. Okay. Hold up for singing with a slight stay in wartime. What's that? Thanks. Oh, and the other thing we can do is raise can raise the ring, lie on the stand. This is another one of those pieces of gear they have to kind of use sparingly because ring lights come get they can get old really quick. People usually know immediately when they when you're using a ring white. So you don't want to be a one trick pony. But they do come in handy for shops like this. Okay, that's what a good assistant does that remind you of your that you're still at your last settings. I don't want to cheat 1/20 of a second right now. Perfect. So I need to scoot in closer, which means we might have to turn the power down. I didn't think I'd be saying this, but now I need you to be a little taller and I want your head to be higher. Do we have, like, a sandbag? She can sit on multipurpose sand back here. Perfect. This might be the best paper holding I've ever seen. You guys are killing it. Yeah, There we go. Um, even sit higher and really get that. And I can shoot up a little bit Her, which means in a little lower slurring went down. And again, this is just a random guess to see if this will work or looks good. Lower the gun a little bit lower and then turn it up to where the gun is still pointed right in the lens. Yet there you got perfect on. Who knows what that's gonna look like? Yeah, we're overexposed. But it does look. And I got her blinking. Um, very good high contrast shot. Teoh also would be nice, black and white. And the problem What's happened is because the gun is so close, you'll see that you'll see that her face is really nice and kind of over exposed. The problem here is the gun just gets shot because it's a lot closer to the light, which does pose a problem. A big problem, because that shot really doesn't work. And so if I were on a job, we would really work a lot to figure that out. Um, might. And it might even have to do a composite, which basically, we would expose for the gun, put it on a tripod, exposed for the gun, then exposed for her faith and combine the two and Photoshopped. That's really the only way. I mean, we could we could try lighting the gun separately. But either way, I think this would end up having to be a composite where the photos get where the photos get combined afterwards. Warren. Totally. Yeah, we could try that. I think still, the gun will be pretty hot, but we'll give that a shot, so Yeah, but I love the way the silver paper is acting. I love the way her face looks. It's all very, very cool. Um, so let's give it another shot, and I'll try my best not to get you blinking this time. No, you're right. It spread you all sides as wide as you can go. Yeah, And this has a big bend in the middle there, seeking somehow. Yeah, and then I wanted to even still get you a little fire somehow. Maybe. Yeah, let's try one more. It's okay if your head is touching that paper. But, I mean, this is essentially, like what we're supposed to do. It's photographers, like, find an interesting civil wall to look around, See if anything else goes with that. Combine them together, figure out the right lighting. You've got an amazing image. I mean, this is a very simple, ultimately very simple set up this this paper was, what, 10 bucks. 16 yard, which is actually expensive two yards on DSO. But it's still very cheap brought. And the metal box was here, and I was just able to arrive here and say, I think these things would look cool together with the ring light and yeah, even bring it closer, cause I mean, closer to you, it's like, really sure because I think, yeah, I mean, it doesn't feel right, but it will look of having and then center. Yeah, this is this nice. Give me a very mean look to you. Like, really, really tough. Raise a gun a little bit. Yeah. And then, like I said, guys, I think the gun will still be overexposed. We'll try actually might focus on the gun, push the gun a little bit to your left and then really aim it right at the lens. Aim it down a little bit. Yeah, even you don't look tough. You just look like you're staying, like, really, really mad. Yeah. Yeah, that's good. Push the gun a little to the left again. I think you're blinking again. Well, she won more. Really, really mad. Yeah. So, like still, like, better focus on her face. I'm gonna give one more. Okay, push that topside on the back if you can. And a little bit. And this time I'm gonna put the gun down, actually. Gonna get a good shot of you. Um, you're gonna give me a face like your screaming this time. Like mouth wide open. Just I like that kind of thing. Like this. Ready? You like that? Okay, here we go. Yeah, that's cool. Even eyes more squinted, actually, no. When I count the three, I'm gonna have you scream. Yep, yep. Okay, one Hold on. Okay. Cool. Let's check it out. It was more of a girly squeal. It's You know, sometimes I don't always like a light to be overexposed, but I think in this case it works really well. Um, but still not aggressive enough. We need to get you usually even tougher. Um, let's see. The red is doing your coat is doing really weird things. That's kind of what they're seeing. What's happening with that? Read the details. Just just barely moving the exposure of the details on the coat leave and go. That's really interesting. I've never seen that before. Well, yeah, exactly. I think it's because my contrast is yeah, because my contrast based it all the way, but still very interesting. Um, I think I like the bluish. The bluest tunes better. Um, one. What happened? Sometimes I like playing with reverse vignette ing where we have Ah, a lot of white pouring in the signs, but or not that's gonna call to on my camera isn't straight. See how my horizons aren't straight? I hate that I'm very But the good thing about, um, any program, uh, capture one as well as you can do this, straighten it out and then hit my little hand. And that's and it's straight. And this would this would also be a very cool square image. Oops. Yes, uh, about like something like that. Um, Okay. I gotta have tougher. I need more squint in the odds. Can you see that? The mouth looks cool. Need the eyes. I need the aggressive eyes. Yeah. Bring it member guys for those audiences this yesterday, this is the first time Becca has ever modeled. And she's not only, uh, modeling, but she's doing it in front of a worldwide audience. So it's pretty dang impressive. She has the gets to do this. So, um, with me, basically, what I'm doing moving my wait. I shut that horizontally. Didn't never mind what I was about to say. Okay, Ready? William, Zoom in a little tighter. Okay. That's better. Much better. Nice work. Let's see now. I don't know. I'm not liking the square crap. Straighten this out because I hate lines that aren't straight. A little. This traitor, It seems off. Any questions from the audience were Internet. Course there are germs. Cool. Bring it. Let's see in China. One question from Parana was when do you know, uh, and how do you know when to go to black and white versus color? um, I think you just know. I mean, sometimes the colors like if she was wearing I don't know, I don't know what what else she could be wearing, but, um, there are a lot of times with colors. Just don't work one. Or maybe I know with a recent band that shot these photos are on my blog's a band called The Daylights. Yeah, I was just going for that more vintage old school vibe, and it just worked way better and black and way, um, so there's no secret. Unfortunately, I think I think it's a step the photographer. I have got a lot of black and white stuff on my website, and I'm a big fan of it. It's tricky, though. I think digital digital photography usually doesn't look good in black and white, so you have to really work on your tones. And I think capture one especially, does a good job of getting good, nice, thick, black rich tunes. Um, so that's my scattered answer to that question. And so do you always shoot in color and then convert toe black? And yes, I do indeed. Um, you know, I think I would like this image is the more of almost a panoramic I've Still I've still been debating this crop in my head, and, uh, I think something like that is a little more interesting. Yeah, I think that's actually a little more. Works a little better for some reason. Let's see, Jeremy. Tom on the roof would like to know if you blend black and white with color. If I blend black and white with killer, um, I don't know what they mean. He's one of our more technical people in the chat room. All right, Tom. What do you mean? Because I'm not sure. What do you mean? On that question? Do you mean blending the color on black and white Sort of a de saturated lug or having a black and white image with maybe one color hiding something on? Still saying, you soft, light blending mode, the more of your shoulders and arms ultimate shows more skin. Yeah, let's do that. Is that okay? Okay. I think your skin looks amazing in the shot. I want to see it one more time without, um we still on that question or my good? Okay. Um, so I'm gonna try one more thing with that shot. And again, this is something very real world application. The red does pop in the shop, but I really especially love her skin. And so I just had her take your coat off. And she's, um just get this black dress on. And I think this I think that would be much simpler. Photo think the skin will be amazing. So we're gonna try that real quick. You ready to scream again? All right, let's see. And I'm gonna center you out when you're perfectly symmetrical. So, Skeeter, with this way a little bit, I mean, I like your face down. Turned down like that. Yeah. No, it's and then even lean forward a bit like that. You're leaning into camera a little bit. That might be cool. Backups and screaming and nudge over the side. Just air right there and then see if you can raise the top just a little bit. Fisher bangs. They were just a little bit. Yeah, There you go. The nice thing about having hair, makeup, people, a lot of someone said, is they They're right next to me and they're fixing all these little things I'm seeing. But a lot of them. That's my job as a photographer toe. Also, be looking for those things, like, right now, your strap here is kind of cricket. And so the more those I think those little details can really make or break a photo. So always be looking for the wrinkles that air sticking out from there, you know, stomach or the straps that aren't turned over right? Or the hair this in the face. I think a lot of times that's the difference between the amateur and a professional is they don't look for the very, very small details. And so, yeah, that would help. So I always just be watching the wardrobe and the hair and all the little things when you're shooting. And that goes for all of photography, no matter what kind of photography do, um, one more scoots or just lean a little bit. Okay, You ready on 23? Cool. I think you're closer to cameras. You'll probably be even more overexposed, but I dig it. I still didn't have you lined up perfectly symmetrical, but and my crop is from the previous image, but that's that's cool. Um, let's start one more thing just again. A slight week. Scudi, scoot up. Just a little more About about the whole store. About four inches. Yeah. Excuse my ring right back. So if we can pull back up the computer or quick, this is again is just a very, uh, you know, simple thing. But these are the details and important to me. I want to get her shoulders to span across wider than the silver background. Um, I just really want her to be the focus, so I'm trying to make her bigger, then the box behind her, I want her to can be the majority of the composition, some bringing her closer. That's so that she'll be bigger than the wider than that Bucks. So, uh, sorry. Gotta help up again. Let's get that stool about two inches. This way. Yeah, it's true that and then come, little foretell one time should work. Yep. And then bring your corner out a little bit. And I know it's I know it's hard. You only have so much room. Yeah, that's better. And then go lower employers outlet. Basically extend your top corner out some. Yeah, like that. Perfect. Okay, lean just a little bit. This way right back a little bit. That's pretty close. Weren't on Cool. Get screaming. Um, so the contrast is probably to crunched. Um Oh, whoops. If you're suggesting my crop might even like again, I'm kind of digging this panoramic crop of the shot, but, um, I like that. That's cool. It might be fun to you. One more idea would be this amount. Tourism some color around here. Let me try one more thing. I have no idea of this work, but I haven't had a feeling it will reflect in an interesting way. Let's get this this stuff, whatever, whatever this is called, we bought the shining paper from Lovely. What's this? Soap lips that is toward It's OK, um, displaying costume here in Seattle. Very great store that we went in. Me and John hair were were strolling to the store together. Buying Christmas lights and decorations is very intimate shopping time. Um, we put this around your head. Uh, this is gonna be our lady gaga wrapping paper. Just hold it right there around me. Yeah. Yeah, I think that's cool. What's that? Maybe I think I like you're just holding. Just put both hands up there own that paper. I don't know what that means, but I want it. Um, yeah, I think that I think that's really cool. I think that's nice and shiny and reflective. Gonna be super awesome. Just you're used to screaming by now. Raise the top just a little bit higher. Guys only afford a little bit back. I just lean out again a little bit and then cheat this way. Yep. Right there. Sweet. Very cool. Um, they have been getting still turned on. Yeah, that's what's annoying me. I need something. Was telling me, um I like it a little bit, but not nearly as strong and had it so sometimes I don't personally do nude photography, but sometimes, like, right now, the even though you're your shoulders look amazing. But the black straps are still bother me. So would you mind if we just kind of felt them off to the side? Your dress will still stay on. Fine, right? I just like the idea of all shoulders in all face, because this image is really strong. So Yeah, and that in that plastic almost looked like it is your is your outfit. Now we're gonna leave this on. Yeah. Okay. Let's make sure the dress stays on. Yeah, I think that's a look. Much cooler without the strips. Another thing I would do in photo shots. In fact, I might even do this on camera is I don't like these. Ah, I don't like the edges of the bucks. So I just want face, shoulders, silver box and re crazy reflective stuff. And see what? The six without the crop. So, yeah. In fact, you know what? Can you hold that for a second? Can I get two more people toe hold, hold something? Gonna unpaid this? You got it. So we're gonna We're gonna only have the paper now behind. Just let it fall behind her. You now wrapped your now wrapped in silver shiny stuff. Yeah, it's basically yeah, if you just kind of after I'm a little bit. Yeah, and it's okay if it's more a lot more wrinkly and And bring this this and a little more. Yeah. Now we're talking. That's gonna be often, um, camera. I need the other extra person. What's at the bottom of it? I think that that's pretty good. Watch your hand Not right there. Let me just take a look. Yeah, this a lot of times, it's about just removing one element at a time. And already I know that this is going to be my shot. I'm just kind of been breaking the image down. Slowly going. I don't like the box. I don't like the straps on the dress, you know? And now we've just got an awesome face. Awesome skin and cool, reflective services for the Ringling. So Oops. One more scream. Bring it. Nice. Surely that's a shot. Yeah, I think that big The simplicity Emina crop gonna keep our, um, cropper issue, which is, I believe six before, and I'm gonna just crop out the bottom of that dress because that's a tangent like we talked about last night. And our image critiques Move it over and just play with the image for a minute. Do you take this classroom? Cool. You That blue is kind of fascinating. Jeremy, do you worry about being too busy? People were about the image to being to business. Yeah. I mean, not in this case. I mean, obviously there's there's no way to not make that image too busy. I mean, sometimes I like the chaos of, you know, And I think in this case, we could really over style style as her hair toe even make it more over the top. But now I'm not worried. I mean, yeah, I understand that general theory, a lot of sun damage is just too chaotic. But I personally like him. That's always going for in this image is busy and chaotic. Um, thus the screen just to kind of go with the overall chaos. You know, um, that white balance is nice, too. So right now I'm just trying to find a way balance that I like. I might even go harder. Fish are blacks a little bit. This is the tweaking. I always sit around on play with him, and you could do this kind of stuff for days, and then I always just experiment with been getting for a minute to see which that's kind of cool. The blackest, both of them, or the different been netting. It's funny this when I'm looking at right now, Alex to me, more like a almost nightclub. Kind of like she's sitting in the back booth and, you know, looks like somebody's non camera flash like, kind of like that. Then you go, that's been getting, and it looks more. Ah, I don't know what it looks like. It looks more like she's fell into a massive disco ball falling into a massive disco ball. Um, so, like both, I'm very happy with this image. And this would be the type of thing in this case, I think I might send her back Teoh makeup in wardrobe and her have her hair a little bit crazy because I think that here could be really over the top here. But it is a classroom setting. I think you get what we're going going for. In general, I might even adjust my crop one more time cut down on the hair a little bit. Um, so, yeah, there we go. That's I like that. I like this crop a lot. That's really cool. Um, so So what? I love about this images that you would never think that we were sitting in just a big room of brick walls, you know, like this Could this could be this could be in a nightclub. You know, people would just assume so many other things in a big room like what we're sitting in. But that's the fun about experimenting and using props is that you can really, uh, do stuff like this.

Class Description

ex·per·i·ment (noun) - a test, trial, or tentative procedure; an act or operation for the purpose of discovering something unknown

How do you make extraordinary photos that surprise and delight? Join Jeremy Cowart and a lively mix of first time models in an exciting, eye-opening 2 day workshop. We'll explore methods and techniques to reveal, highlight, expose, enhance and otherwise present your subject in new and unexpected ways.


Lisa Carney

This guy is FANTASTIC. Creative and thinks outside the box. Totally had me rethink my shooting style. LOVE LOVE

a Creativelive Student

I almost didn't watch this one. It was a little slow at first, but once JC get's going it's a fun ride. He transitions from using $2k strobes, to using just a few dollars for lighting. This course opens a lot of doors and shows that it's ok to go against the grain and to think outside the box. Lots of good ideas to see in this one!

Mike Taylor

Experimental portraiture is just that. Experimental. However, I don't feel that JC was properly prepared. Shooting a single person with a 2400ws pack is simply overkill, considering that he wanted to be shooting wide open. A fairly simple solution would have been to use a few sheets of Lee ND filter over the light head. I do suppose this was typical of any shoot. Especially a shoot that I'm doing.