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FAST CLASS: Portraits Under Pressure

Lesson 4 of 19

Culling Editorial/Celebrity Style Shoot

Victoria Will

FAST CLASS: Portraits Under Pressure

Victoria Will

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Lesson Info

4. Culling Editorial/Celebrity Style Shoot

Lesson Info

Culling Editorial/Celebrity Style Shoot

here were my tests. Frames? This is just the daylight. So I'm looking at the way the light's hitting her. But I'm also looking at, uh so I'm looking at the light, but in these only I'm not, you know, looking for moments or anything, obviously. So here was the daylight. Just the Ambien. That's her opening up just a bit. This is when we brought in my faux tech and had the wrong exposure. So this is where I was thinking. You know what? Maybe we want this to feel more lit, uh, so that we have that daylight option and the lit option. This is something. Obviously the photo is overpowering, so I changed my exposure, and it is a little bit overexposed. Ah, so I go under and now I'm finding it. I'm moving that light a little bit and just trying to get at a little bit. Thio Thio, balance it out. But I'm also always curious what happens when you pull when you start turning white to grey because that's another option. If you only have a white wall, you can also, uh, get changed the lighting in a w...

ay. So that makes it gray. so right there. Two options, Right. So here, Is it going to gray? I'm just looking at the light here. All right, I think I got something here. So then we move over to the gray, this actual gray, and you can see this light. I mean, honestly, this lights not I love the the light from a beauty dish, but the fall off. If you can see this, sort of you can see where the light's hitting. It's really hitting here, and it's falling off right here, which can be really beautiful. But I wanted to then see what happened when we add a different light. So I know if you remember, we turned off the beauty dish because I like to see what each light is doing on its own and piece them together. So this light is just the faux tech umbrella. So that's what the faux tech was adding, which basically means it's going to take that sort of vignette. I do like a natural vignette, but sometimes it's sometimes I hate it. Sometimes it's like That's all I see in the picture, but here it's nice and soft. I see a resemblance to Cheryl Crow on this, some sort of. So it's like, you know, I'm imagining Cheryl Crow and, um, but I want to just potentially soften that vineyard a little bit. So that's what the faux tech would dio. And then I wanted to see what my strip light was doing. That's the strip lights. You can see that it's on Lee lighting a tiny bit of Phil from below. That's, um, so here she comes in, and then she came in. All my transmitter was on right, and I said First whenever accounts. For this reason, this is a beautiful image. She's looking right at me. It feels very connected, I think. But then I turned off my and just used the bit of daylight, and you can see the difference from there to there. I think that this is a more powerful image. There's more depth, and I know that we're you know, let's say this is an album cover. Let's say this. If I had this image, what I would do in posters, I would go in and I would bring it down. It's too bright for me, so that's what I did. I turned off the Phil or you know. I turned off that extra light, and here we are. And I love the way the black is. It's so straightforward, but I think there's something very connected about it. So I thought to myself, OK, great. We have a photograph, Guys, my editor. So far, we've got one and it's so simple. It was, honestly, a test shot, but the test shots count. And here's why. In my opinion, in the very beginning of meeting somebody, there's a very powerful thing that happens. It's so raw and it's so riel, right? She walks in and I say, Hi, I'm Victoria And she said, Hi, I'm Sara and it's like we're complete strangers and we're meeting like That's a very raw, powerful energy there that I'm trying to use, So I immediately sense that, you know, come on into the studio, try to make her feel comfortable because we're at my dinner party and she goes in and she stands there and she's still rial. She's sorry, of course, Israel, she still raw and it's still that honest time. It's before I've started diving in and trying to relate to her about her nail color, which I actually genuinely interested in her nail color because I get my nails on all the time. So that was the first thing I went to was talking about something that I know. I have to give something of myself first before I can start taking. There we go. So in my first edit, I do sort of a wide at it, like anything that could possibly have anything in it that might work. So there's a lot. It says that we're moving around. So I like the top part of this image. I don't necessarily I like the engagement with the hand, but I could also make this avert horizontal, so I could keep that. You know what's also nice about this is all the extra space. So when you're thinking about editors, I'm obviously, um that's in the back of my mind. You know, it's not my main priority, but what if this is a cover? You know, I have room when they also could put taglines over here, you know? So Sarah goes creativelive you could splash it all over. All right, so we're moving around. Oh, I love that. Okay, we're done. We got our pictures. We're going home. so I'm pulling back changing angles. So I like this moment. I'm going to tag it. So sorry, I'm going off on tangents, but I'm gonna go in and mark anything that I see. That's fun. A look, not sharp, that one sharp. That one's not. Which is a real bummer. Sometimes that happens even to me. Don't tell anybody, though. It's kind of interesting. Great. It's beautiful to see how that self conscious she is here. So then I wait for the next moment, which is this one, because she I'm letting her. I'm directing. But I'm also saying things to get reactions, and I'm letting her take me places that this is sweet. You know, this actually is a sweet moment, and then I might market for my editor, but to me it's a little bit more obvious, a little bit more direct. This is a nice moment. If this were, you know, if you think about shooting celebrities, people want to see them in ways that you haven't seen them, which is more vulnerable. So I think that this is a really beautiful image. Sarah might be like, You can't see my face, but that's not the point. If you know if this were Angelina Jolie, it might feel Sarah might look at it if this were Angelina Jolie and say, Oh, that's a really nice, vulnerable moment, which is why I love it. And so that's what I'm going for, particularly with people that are well known particular with people whose photo we've seen a 1,000,000 times. I'm trying to see find something a little bit off in a little bit unexpected, so I always take the photo of the back of somebody's head. It's actually a lot of those photos. I might maybe not in my portfolio, but on my website, because a lot of people that are famous again recognizable not necessarily, um, famous. But you can recognize him without seeing their face, right. So I I there Anna Wintour, for example, the editor Vogue in New York, you can spot her mile away just by her hair cut. Um, there a lot of people like that. So if you know, we don't know Sarah very well. But again, um, it can be an interesting option up for a portrait, and I'll give you more examples of that later. Totally different. Feel so again, I'm gonna select both of those and give my editor options something interesting there. So here, my light is not in the right spot, but that's okay. Look at it. There's something in there I shouldn't say. It's not in the right spot. I should say it's not where I intended it to be. But then because I hadn't articulated to Danielle to move it down, So then we moved it down, and it made it a very different image. But maybe that's were successful. I don't know. Well, look, I'm gonna continue just quickly marking anything that catches my eye. So then we went to this gray, my lights all over the board. So this is super clean. Just clean, clean, clean, Right. This is, uh, you know, just again, I see just a sliver of her nose. But if that were Angelina, that were so and so you might think it was very interesting. I find that very interesting. Not knowing Sarah just trying to. So I have this right. I made some some images here, and then Daniel starts. I start having her move the light around because that's I want to make something a little bit more dramatic. So I turned off the strip light. I actually just spun it around and then turned off the faux tech. And it's not quite right because what I did was I turned the lights off and put them over here. And then I had her turn that way. Oops. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't So. Then I looked at the back of my camera and I was like, Right, I need to bring her back around So that's nice. That's feels connected and the light is dramatic, but it's not distracting to me.

Class Description


Try a Fast Class – now available to all Creator Pass subscribers! Fast Classes are shortened “highlight” versions of our most popular classes that let you consume 10+ hours in about 60 minutes. We’ve edited straight to the most popular moments, actionable techniques, and profound insights into bite-sized chunks– so you can easily find and focus on what matters most to you. (And of course, you can always go back to the full class for a deep dive into your favorite parts.)

Full-length class: Portraits Under Pressure with Victoria Will

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  • Leverage new techniques for choosing the light and locations for a successful portrait
  • Know how to build a rapport and utilize clear communication with your subjects
  • Set up a developed concept as well as how to light on the fly
  • Use successful strategies for marketing yourself as a photographer and how to get your work in front of editors


Portraits require more than just great lighting and equipment. Sometimes a shoot doesn’t go as planned. The location is drab, the client isn’t in the best mood, or you forget to charge your camera batteries. Great portrait photography artists are able to think on their feet, connect with their subjects -- and capture great images under pressure. The best portraits often come from portrait sessions that didn't go exactly as planned, when challenges turn into assets.

Celebrity portrait photographer Victoria Will shows you how to use your environment to capture a unique, sharp image that reflects the person in the portrait. She’ll also highlight how to quickly evaluate a less than perfect situation and make it work for you and your subject. Take your portraits from amateur to near Mona Lisa gallery worthy by learning how to shoot portraits under pressure.

You’ll watch Victoria photograph real people in limited settings, discovering multiple opportunities in a limited space. Learn her three portrait musts for preparation, point-of-view, and connection. Gain insight into how to make every frame count and how to get the shots the editor requested, as well as those that speak to your vision. Learn how to make your subject feel comfortable in only a few moments while capturing exquisite photo collections in Portraits Under Pressure.


The photographer looking to improve their portraiture through thoughtful lighting, creative techniques and leveraging the environment around you to get a consistent appearance.

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