Shoot: Creating a Senior Portrait
We're going to start shooting and I am very, very excited about this I have a lot of different setups plan and the way that I tried to organize everything was too sort of start with the simple stuff and then build from there so we're going to be ending the whole workshop on day three with a big elaborate fine art shoot before we do that though we're going to start with a blank wall because I talked a little bit about how you know I shoot with what I have available and I always have a blank wall available you know I have a small white wall department that's it so when I am working in my home that's what I have to shoot with I don't have any fancy furniture I don't have paint to coat my walls in or anything like that so I'm working with what I have so when I came into the studio I saw that they had a white brick wall and I said let's use it why not? And I'm going to show you some different ways that we can change that up so the first thing that I want to do though is focused on posing be...
cause posing is so important there's nothing else that you khun dio to really make an image pop better than doing a great pose so I'm going to come over here I'm actually going to demonstrates imposes on my own so I want to walk you through my process of I'm staring at a blank wall what am I going to shoot? Because you could imagine if you walk into a room you have a blank wall and say you don't even have a subject you're just doing a self portrait, whatever it may be you know you're staring at a situation where you don't know what to do with it because there's nothing to work with but in this case that's when you can really take advantage of the body, the human form, what you could do with that to express something so the heart to me oven images the emotion aside from story if we're working in a space like this where we don't have a proper we have nothing all we have is a white wall, so we have to focus on the subject and we have to figure out how we can move her body in different ways to create different effects so what I want to do is create two different type of poses there is the emotion of happiness and there's the emotion of sadness it sounds really, really obvious, but that's how I like to work, I like to split my images into two categories obviously I've never actually created a picture that's happy, so I tend to just go with the sad part of it all, but I work with emotion so if I'm saying ok, I want two sad emotion, you know, what kinds of poses could you do to achieve that? It sounds really simple, but so often we just have somebody standing, you know, or were st staring at the camera or, you know, not doing anything dynamic, and so I showed earlier a picture where I was had my body turned, and I just had my head like this so you can see that that's going to create an image already that look sad, you're not going to assume that that person is happy that person's going to look upset about something so that's, what I'm thinking in very basic terms looking at this wall? What kind of pose? Kanai d'oh now I try to pump it up from there, so if I'm not just shooting a sad person standing, you know, in the corner, what can I do to make it really, really dramatic? So instead of having them just stand against the wall may be I'm goingto have them go down to the ground and crouch down like this in some sort of way to show that they're upset to show that they are in a state of despair now hands are really important to me in an image. If you have amazing hands, you can really tell a story even better than a face sometimes depending on whose faces mean anyways so hands are really great because I could have my hand gently laying here I could have my hand pressed against the wall like I'm trying to escape him, trying to claw at something, you know, I could do so many different things with my hands, that's one thing that I'm definitely going to be focusing on when I'm doing these demos. Another thing is do I want to see the subject's face? Do I not want to see their face? These are things that I consider very heavily. I tend not to show people's faces, not that I don't I think everybody is beautiful, but I like to create characters, so if I can create a character instead of photographing a model that's, what I'm trying to dio so instead of telling the model to look this way and chin down and I'm going to make your neck look nice and thin and long and things like that, I'm focused on the character. What is that character like? Not so much what the person is like and the two things can really go hand in hand if you think about it if you're shooting a senior session. You know you have a senior portrait to do you have to pull out that person's personality think about that person as a character, you know, if you can really talk to that person in this case we have mackenzie uh you're nineteen yeah, okay, we have a nineteen year old and you know, she's a person, she has a story, she is a character whether we photograph her, you know, looking happy looking as she is right now today or whether we photographed her story that's another thing so I want to photograph her story I want her to be a character, so I'm going to try to pull that out of her. So instead of doing like you a senior thing where she looks beautiful, I'm going beyond that I don't want to photograph for looking beautiful in the traditional sense, but I think that everything is beautiful, so if you could sort of work with that point of view and doing something a little bit different than you're probably going to come away with a really unique image. So there are few things that I like to do when it comes to posing I love working with tension tension is my favorite thing in the world and I learned this pretty much on ly through doing self portrait it's so when I'm creating a self portrait, I am able to see and feel what is right so I can look at the back of my camera and I can see what's happening you know, I can see the muscles in my back moving and I can see the tension in my arm when I stretch it things like that. So if I can see that and know how it feels, then I can direct a model into that pose and that's why I love self portraiture because I could tell mackenzie to come over here and put her head against the wall and have a lot of tension in your body and reach your hand up and it might look like this. And then who cares she's just sort of flopping on the wall. Well, she's not I am, but you know what I mean? So instead I would have repressed her body against the wall, tilt her head back, reach up and do something really, really dramatic something and as tension. So one thing that I learned was to add tension, you really have to clench your muscles you have to be willing to reach, be uncomfortable, feel a little bit of pain. So when I am shooting, when I am directing a model instead of saying I have a lot of tension in your pose, they are not going to know what that means it's such a nondescript description it's every sense so so in any case, instead of saying just have tension in your body I'm going to tell them tio, you know, put their shoulder blades together, you know, try to push their shoulder blades out in the back and push them together that's going to create tension I'm going to tell them tow arch there back or to hunch they're back to pull the skin tight on their body and that's going to create tension and thinking aboutthe hands you know I don't do I want soft hands or doing really tense hands? What am I looking for? So a couple of different poses that I love to do our ones were impressed against the wall in some way where my back is arched maybe my neck is up and something that I'm doing to go along with the anonymity is covering my face so I'm going to do whatever I can to throw my hair in front of my face or just obstructed in some way that still looks really artistic and it's great and it doesn't just look like somebody fought there here and in front of the face for no reason because that would be terrible, eh? So I'm just going to start taking some shots here we're going to see how everything goes so let me get mckenzie in here hello you're awesome! I just got this dress the other day from a vintage store here in seattle, so I decided to try it out today, and so I'm just gonna poser in some basic poses, and I'm going to go ahead and and get my camera and test out the different lighting and show you how I would approach this, so you're fine right there for right now, now I'm going to be shooting from about the waist up, so I am not too worried about her legs or anything like that, so when I'm posing her, I'm not really looking at what her bottom half is doing too much. I'm just looking at the waist up, so why don't you take a couple steps back and put your back against the wall? Great. So now if I shot her like this, I'm just going to take a test shot and I'll shout out my settings for you. So then, you know, you know what we have going on here in the camera? Now I am at s o four hundred I don't like to bump it up too far past eight hundred, so I'm going to try to keep it in that range. It just depends on it from shooting hand held it depends on what I need my shutter speed to be right now, my shutter speed is one eightieth of a second, so it's not too fast you know we're going to catch some motion blur if I have her fling in her head around or anything like that on dh then my f stop is four point oh, I try not to go above five point six because I like that blur I don't want to have a very sharp image the whole way through, so I like that depth of field that's what my settings are right now and I'm taking a test and we'll see if they stay that way so you could just stare right at him he doesn't really matter perfect I can see the picture and I can see that it's ever so slightly dark um so I'm just going to brighten everything up a little bit and I'm going to take my I s o up to about six forty and I'm going to try that out right now, okay, that looks really nice so I've got my exposure now this was mentioned a little bit earlier but when I am exposing in my camera I am exposing for the highlights so I am not worrying about the shadows being too dark. I am worrying about the highlights not being too bright, so I am making sure that under exposed the image ever so slightly it's really funny because people often say, well, you know there's a little meter in your camera and the little dot is blinking below the zero mark and I always say, don't worry about it does not matter at all what you're camera meter is saying as long as it looks good to your eye, it's all about what you're going for, so I'm not worried about that at all. In fact, if I'm looking at it, which I rarely dio, I'm making sure that it's actually slightly under exposed I don't want anything too bright in my image, so from here I am going to start to post her, but I also need to think about the light, so if I am posing her, you know exactly as she is, where I'm standing in front of her well, that's not going to be a very dynamic shot because I need to do something where the light is looking interesting and it's really rather flat right now, so I'm gonna go ahead to this side of her first and I'm going to shoot from this direction and if I could have you step just two feet that way be yep that's perfect, you have larger steps than ideo was great. Thank you. Okay, so shoulders to the wall so make sure you're there touching as much as they can and then just walk your feet away from the wall a bit good and then push your hips forward wonderful now tilt your head back perfect okay, now I'm gonna take a shot like this and I am just setting my focal point to be on her face great okay, so I'm taking a look at this and I'm actually too short for her so I'm going to get a step stool in here so then she doesn't have to like kneel on the ground or anything but I am really short and she's really tall thank you that's perfect so I'm just going to jump up on this ladder all that's so much better okay awesome so back into that pose and if you can push your hips out even more that great yes exactly so when she pushes her hit is out her shoulders naturally come down on the wall and that makes her let her neck look longer so that's what I'm looking for in this pose I want it to be really exaggerated so I'm going to take one like this and then I'll show you the next teams that I'm going to make okay good. So now the next change that I'm going to make I feel like her face is just too straight on it it's too boring not to your face is boring you know it's just the picture so I'm going to have you turn your head away from me there you go and then head back as far as you can perfect good okay, perfect so that's far more interesting for me in terms of how this pictures looking not that I don't want to see her face but how I would normally shoot this is that she's a character so I'm trying to get as much of that character in it's possible instead of seeing mackenzie no offense again all right so let's play with hands then what can we do with these hands to make it more interesting right now they're dangling looks nice and soft but we want to keep introducing tension into this picture so couple things weaken dio first of all we can have her put her hand on her ribs so why don't you yep just like this but not like a model like this with the palm of your hand good and then just sort of like that so you're sort of reaching away from your body perfect just like that and then head back great perfect okay, so we've got her in a much nicer pose now for me because I'm creating the character not not the mackenzie who we love but we don't want to capture today okay perfect so now I'm going to have you make one more change I'm going to have you move your hair just to the other side of your head a little bit more because I want to see your jawline perfect yep just like that okay, so hand back yep let's take the other one up the other hand and do the same thing on the other side now when you do that imagine that you're squeezing something have lots of tension perfect okay good. Now tilt your head back just roll your head back on the wall as much as you can even if your shoulders come away from the wall perfect. Okay great that's wonderful. So now I am in the pose that I like I think she looks really great like this and this is the point where I would get my tripod because at this point I'm going to start compositing I know that she's in the pose that I like so that's when I want to start getting some they're moving and do something really fun with it so I'm just going to grab my tripod here loaded up I don't actually know how that goes yeah I could work a tripod it's cool come around so what I'm looking to do in this next part is to capture her with her hair moving as much as I can because I want to create that motion because that helps create tension so if I can have her in this pose where she's real dramatic we see the really pretty line of her jaw and her neck I want to have that hair moving away sort of flopping up against the wall a little bit so that's what I'm looking to do when I composite this next part now obviously I can't get all of that going in one shot so if I have her interpose and then I have somebody sort of moving her hair well then there's somebody in the picture and I need to be able to remove them this is exactly what we were talking about before when we were talking about the blank shot so you remember we need a blank shot we need to be on a tripod we need to have everything walk down this is that situation so I need to be able to remove myself from the picture so I'm going to come over here and flip her hair around while she's in her pose so that said now I could use an assistant for this but I really want to demonstrate to you that you don't have to have an assistant obviously I needed one because I can't set up my own tripod but I'm a little deficient in that area but but yeah so you can do it all yourself and that's what I love about it so I'm going to get my remote and I'm going to set my timer on my camera and I'm just going to do it myself because if it's just me and a motto we can connect a lot better than if they're a bunch of people helping out on set so does anybody know where my remote is I threw it on the ground earlier and thank you. And then john helped me and found it for me. Okay? Can we lower this tripod? Actually, so I'm trying to keep the same angle that I had before, which was about my regular height. So I am this gonna help bring this down. Thank you. Oh, that's perfect. We can just take it down about there. Yep. That's great. There we go. Okay, so okay, that looks good. So I'm not too particular about if everything straight or not because we're shooting such a blank space. Normally I would be a real stickler for having everything exactly as it should be. Okay, okay, this is looking really nice and if I could get you back in your post so then I know where I need to set my camera great that's about where you'll be and I just caught my focus on her it's focused on the side of her face, which is great, so I have my focus. I'll just take a test shot real quick and now I'm flipping my lens to manual focus because I've got my shot. So she's going to pretty much stay there for the rest of the time, and what I'm doing now is I'm setting my remote setting, so I am going into my camera on my camera in particular which is the cannon five d mark to you're going to choose a f drive and then you can use the wheel in the back to toggle the settings and I am toggle ing it until I see the traditional timer setting with a little remote signal next to it and then I am good to shoot so let me just take a little test shot here it works that's good ok, now I am just going to come over here and now what I want to do about with where I'm positioned is I don't want to block the white coming into her so if there was a light right here I would be very careful not to stand in the way because the lighting has to be consistent so if there was a light right here I would come around this side and try to flip it like that because then I'm not blocking the light but in this case I am okay back here because the light is coming from this direction all right? So you turn your head that way and then push off the wall there you go that's great and I'm just going to take this shot all in one on a two second delay on my remote darn hold on I was a little bit little bit early okay did you get it let's see no oh, okay. Well, I got it. Yeah. Okay, so, uh, I got the shot. Now, I would probably take one or two more just to make sure in case I wanted to fill some more hair in there since there's a little gap in between, you never know. So with the hair shots, I'm usually a little bit more liberal and you're doing fantastic. Okay, uh, actually, now that I'm looking at the image with this hand, keep your hand your fingers on your stomach there and this one can stay off yet down. Just get perfect. Okay, perfect midi focus. I'm just waiting to see what happened with that picture. Yeah, okay, so that was also a really nice hair foot. So you're good, you can stand up straight your back doesn't have to break any more. Thank you. So, that's, what? I would need to composite this image now. Like I said, we're really not getting the bottom half, so I'm not worried about, you know, taking her skirt and moving it around or anything it's really not relevant for this picture? You can't see it. So for all we know, the bottom of the skirt could be billowing everywhere, but we're not looking at it, so it's okay? So now I want to play with the same thing but on the other side of her so I'm just going to swing my tripod around and get a different lighting setup that I'm actually going toe like more I can almost guarantee you okay so I'm gonna have you take another big step that way up there you go perfect okay great a little bit this way so now what I'm looking for here is a nice rim light going along her face because that light's hitting her from the other side and this creates a little bit more of a dynamic lighting situation where the wall on this side of her is going to be quite a bit in shadow she's going to be in shadow but we're going to get a really interesting line on her face so let's have you back up against the wall there's a giant wasp he's our friend he was in here earlier he won't hurt you okay? Yep just like that okay, great yeah state profile this time and then just tilt your head back great perfect now push your shoulders forward this time and really like lean on your head there you go great oh I love that okay, so I am going to flip out of manual focus I'm in auto focus so I'm not, you know, messing up my focus here focused right on her face, flipping it to manual and I have my ten second timer on because I always forget to take it off so we're going to wait ten seconds and then get a test shot even though it's really cruel for mackenzie okay so I am just going to take a look at this zoom in a little bit and that's looking nice so now if you know if I could I would have all the lights in this whole room turned off so it wasn't filling in so much on the side of her face but in this situation it's still looking good cause I still get that rim light and that's the kind of thing that I can enhance a lot later in photo shop so I'm going to do pretty much the same picture here you know what change it up just a little bit if we can so instead you khun stand up street instead of having your head supporting you this time I'm gonna have shoulders against the wall and then arms up like this so yeah this one can be bent a little bit just like that then this one straight above your head with lots of tension and turned that hand in towards me good so I want to be able to see the details you know I want to see the fingers and I don't want it to just be flat against the wall I want everything to look delicate and powerful at the same time you look great okay so I'm just walking straight back here I'm gonna have to adjust my frame a little bit for her great okay so now I'm going to take a test shot and then we're going to adjust again so I'm just gonna keep going here with my gun I get focus again on her since we moved or a little bit and then I'm going to use my vote to click that shutter okay so what we have here is her face is kind of in shadow compared to her arms and I want to fix that so I'm going to go ahead and have her again push her face and her shoulders out so with your elbows that's where you're going to support yourself there you go all right perfect yep and then head back so perfect that looks beautiful all right and now I've got my remote so I could just click rule france here we go that looks gorgeous I love it okay so now I'm going to come play with her hair again very simple my process doesn't change too much when I'm doing these shots I always play with hair a little and this one's easy can I can I can just swing it sort of maybe off to reach oh she's too tall okay there you go so let's try it out no I missed sorry for hitting you ron okay one more time well see I don't know if I got it that time but maybe did I get it okay well waken try again try again all right so this is actually a really good point because if you are trying stuff like this and you're just not getting it in this models in a very you know, not comfortable position I don't want to leave her there for too long so what I'm going to do is just grab her hair and actually just hold it up a little bit and then edit my hand out leader and then I could just snagged that shot and we're done so that's another alternative you can relax and always tell the model to relax right when she's allowed d'oh okay all right so that's the first demo that I wanted to do and that's how I would go about shooting something like this now I can go even further with what I'm doing for example I don't have to keep this brick wall I can change it in a photo shop later or I can change it right now so if I were to change this in photo shop I would go in there with the heel brush tool I would go in there with the clone stamp tool and get rid of every single line of brick and make it a white wall it sounds really tedious but it'll get done what like thirty minutes an hour something like that and it's something that I find is very fun to dio because it's just sort of like a quick thing that you can keep going through keep doing it and it'll be done before you know it so that's how I might fix up this wall if I didn't like the brick but if I did like the brick I could leave it just as it is now the other thing that I want to do is change the scene up a little bit more so you can relax you can have a seat wherever you like and I'm going to bring in a set change. So do we have any questions about this setup before I go ahead and get the sheet in? Yeah, we have a couple actually one that came up a couple of times brooke is when you were using the step ladder. So can you just kind of explain why you were up there? Yeah, totally thing or composition? Definitely. It was the fact that she was so much taller than me I was getting sort of a weird angle being so far below her so I wasn't getting that nice elegant line like I wanted I was sort of seeing the underside of everything, so I wanted to make sure to be a little bit more level with her, so that was why I got up on the step stool, okay, thank you question from on on. Johnny and seattle do mark for the model stance. How do you ensure the model is always standing in the same place for focus? You mean, yeah, yes, I do. Mark the models place sometimes depends. If I'm doing a self portrait, really lazy, then I'll try to just stand in one spot, get all the shots that I know that I need. Whether or not you know, I get to use all of them is a different thing, and then I'll go check my camera, and if I mess it up, well, then that just means that I have to shoot it again. But, yes, I bring tape with me. Sometimes I will mark the models place s o that is something that I do from time to time.