What Makes a Fashion Portrait?


Hack Your Light


Lesson Info

What Makes a Fashion Portrait?

Let's talk about fashion positioning let's end okay. All right um and the first thing we're gonna do is chat ok? Let's pretend you're the ceo of microsoft microsoft you didn't say apple man I'm an apple fan boy but I used to win there is what? What is he doing? He's mad okay, I used to use microsoft rich yes, you are rich. You're very rich bill here I have a dollar now I want you teo magic with chuck arliss. No, I learned about this when I used to work for the kids. So the star my boss judy revenue tell me before we went out and shot a corporate portrait, make sure you shoot under the eyes and a lot of portrait photographers will shoot above I's like to flatter, I think is what I hardly ever do that. But she told me the reason is the ceo wants to be able to look at the people looking at him. So when you take your picture and you get your picture back and it's like it on the stock report and it sends out all the shareholders do you want them looking at you in a submissive roller? Do you...

want the power? Do you want to have power over them? I want exactly so we're gonna have power over them and I go back to the very classical paintings um and I'm going to use this to start with george here if you guys all pull out a dollar bill if you see the camera position can you zoom in on this a little bit? I don't know his there the camera position would be about it his neck with george looking down on us and that gives him a position of authority in a position of power. See that? Did you get that? Um here we go. You got him. Like now you are important. And I started looking at a lot of paintings off the mona lisa that's, a good one to start with and kind of what paintings are based around again shot from underneath the eyes and about midriff and she is looking at you if you look at any fashion magazine, any kind of anything like that start flipping through and noticed that the camera position is almost always underneath the eye level. But here's the rub it's not looking up at someone it's not looking down on someone it's perfect and that's. What? I want to talk about camera positioning and this far is making your pictures look a little bit like fashion aa lot of us do it just kind of inherently because that's what we see but we haven't really I thought about it too much and I think how this works is and I'm not going to take a picture right now, you know, a portrait photographer might take a picture, daniel kind of like this we're focusing the eyes and kind of point our camera down and so the lynns plane is kind of this way and daniels this way now sometimes our senior photographers we'll make people is like super heroes and I think that's what we think about when we think shooting under and that's not what I'm talking about well, let's take a look at that so I'll go down, we'll make you look like a superhero yeah, but now I'm really looking up your nose to put your head down a little bit so like that and stick it out because they're yeah there you and I'm going to go till up right he's got that superhero somebody linds plane now is like this he's like this where fashion photographer or a painter john singer sargent's a great way to look at um raphael we're going to focus on the eyes even though I usually don't have to because I shoot it what faa you know, but if I did shoot at one point for this, it would still because what happens if you shoot at one point for any of you this and you do this now it changes my focus, right? But here's the trick we're going to focus look at him he's all full of blue steel today and he's gonna laugh you have dimples no, why not now wait so we're gonna focus and I'm not going to change the lens plane I'm just going to go down and there's some photographing him my lands is pointing right here but it's parallel to him so as I walk backwards it's going to get lower and lower and lower and lower and lower until I get a full body so now where I'm kind of pointing at his waist the winds playing hasn't changed and that inherently is going to make anything look like a fashion photograph it's just you're splitting people indefinite if I could flip through a vogue right now it would be like see underneath underneath this it's like over and over and over and over and over again not all the time, but ninety percent of the time you go to an art gallery and start looking at the classical paintings you'll notice that they're normally painted from that point of view kind of like your dollar bill in george and it gives people authority one of the funniest things I mean my own thing is when I do shoot booed war so I don't like that term I just call it fashion with lingerie you know, are nothing or something sexy but you know, I always you know the whole that look to me is presented the best in the black and white pictures you see on the walls of victoria's secret on the outside of the things that I think those air was really cool black and white fashion images of girls a larger they look great and they've all got power. I want to give a woman power, I don't want to put her in a submissive role, looking down on it that's just my own perspective, so I'm going to shoot her from this point of view to and what about larger people? I hear that a lot lighting dramatic lighting position the light a little bit higher, shifting the body a little bit, so we're creating white like that, I can still shoot from that angle and now have just created a shadow if he's got in a little posing trip just like, you know, pushing out the chin a little bit still works when you're shooting underneath and they're not looking, I'm not shooting up that I'm remember I'm not shooting up in him, I'm shooting on the same level they are and there's it's that wind shift that makes it all work. So I'm going to try to just do an example of that let's see what we're getting here natural light it's goingto kill not that even matters or to save battery um let's see what we got so there we go I'm looking down on him can you guys let me know if you guys can see that we see that ok, a couple of things happened I'm not saying it's a bad fortune I'm not saying it's not a sellable portrait I'm just saying this is a different way to look at how we photograph and I'm more of a fashion perspective and this is you know what I like um I think some of this came from you know, back in the fifties and sixties you know way civil finder cameras and shooting like that that's kind if you think about it that way you're kind of shooting from the ways to right here um four by five you were standing right here like this painters there's their perspective is from this position mariah so I think that's what it is typically when I see a picture above could you sit down for a second typically when I see a picture above and just kind of gays off it's like he's cracking me up here look turn it kind of looked off l a you know, like that it's from a more voy er position he's not looking at me so he's not in a submissive role now I'm just in observer so and you'll see a lot of images that air shot from above more than likely the subject's looking away, right? I'm not saying all the time, I'm just saying most of the time so you actually keep saying it's not going to shoot again above him? Go ahead, look at me. There we go above him, I'm going to shoot below him kind of looking up and there's I've got the superhero thing going on right now. I'm going to shoot the fashion point. We're just going to focus on his eyes farewell and there it is. And can you guys compare those three pictures back in the studio and we'll see above blow and straight on and you'll be able to see kind of the difference. I know you guys can't see this, but you're special. You could imagine it right? The other thing I want to do is go in steam makeup. This goes in the composition, the shooting down, if you'll notice there's a horizon line right there, that's cutting his head off and that's just from shooting down. If I get like this now, I'm putting his shoulders at rest with the rise in line or his cufflinks are right at the rise, and it just feels more it just feels better because you're there's, not these weird lines crossing out. Now and as you notice, I shoot most my stuff like that and sometimes it's hard to get into that because we'll just do this and we'll go out we'll go down, we'll go up and we'll get going and it's like a sports of photographers we tend to do that and a lot of times when I'm teaching workshops I'll have my people come over and shoot and like they'll see like this they think they're doing it might go lower lower go well go and they're like what am I doing and there it is so it's like you think you're low enough but keep going you know and he could even d'oh your full body sometimes this is kind of ah, you know hellman newton perspective now I'm getting all of them but I'm still my lens is parallel to him so there's no distortion of the body it's just but I'm along getting him just from the angle wait in your camera doesn't matter in my focus point well, my focus point is still one eyes and even though I'm photographing at I mean, you know faa here they're there it's gonna be in focus but let's think about it let's shoot at one point for really quick get ready okay, I'm at one point four and I'm gonna photograph like this and that looks pretty cool, but the minute I do this it's out of focus but I mean, this is one just practical reason to do this so but if I and now he's a centered in the frame well that's not good I want to put him here see but now my my plane didn't shift so his eyes you're still going to be in focus is that makes sense and that's another you know, shooting it oh, you know a low or large aperture that's because you don't want to be doing that um so good question yeah, yesterday I was I was here and you talk for a second back stage and you were saying something about the uh something about how people just need to notice more when they're when they're positioning people just move over an inch with the composition and it changes everything I just want to hear what about that perfect segway into what we're going to talk about uh so I shoot a lot outside and I shoot a lot of you no longer do up the field so I have to pay a lot attention teo what's my background I can use that as a disadvantage I think a lot of people would see that is the moment where he can use it as an advantage because now we're developing things that you can use leading lines you can use horizon lines you can use counter subjects and subject something that gives the photograph a little bit more depth, unjust a blurry boca background and a click you know and I'm going to I'm going to get ripped for this for a second all right I give my five year or my seven year old seven and a half year old this camera with let's say a fifty one four you know nice camera I put it on green or a v and put it on two point eight or something right sit my daughter down in front of a window and say shoot away what's he going to get a nice blurry background with a well lit subject see a professional photographer is it a sellable image? Yes see what I'm getting for I mean let's put this thing on a bright half hazard shooting an annual look oh, yeah I'm do it work it there you go. You know now if I had this kind of a sky here's a student student there let's get sky so it's a normal back and looked at because their lights awful but like that there we go okay, there we go and it's actually give me a let's put every at that was wrong one point eight or two o two it's too bright out here you bright why a navy working by a navy working and sometimes it works and go to manual I like that okay, okay, my point is backgrounds become distractions we don't have to worry about it it's a sellable image, but you know, it doesn't tell much of a story it doesn't have these things that a lot of art photographs have or even look at some of the old paintings you usually see the backgrounds or the environment that they're in. Um so john singer sargent's an amazing example of a good painter to study is a four photographer, so I think about things like horizons counter subjects, I'm going to do this, okay? I don't want the space needle of growing out of his head, right? So, you know, a little shift like this now I'm looking at it and we've got this tree line that's kind of matching his hair, which is not kind of because it's kind of fuzzy back there and it's fuzzy right there? Well, maybe if I drop them here now, his shoulder is on the horizon line. Okay, I'm still keeping that point of view do this, I've got these lines coming down to, they're pointing at him, they're not going to get through his head, they're going to go to his shoulder let's do this good right there and there we go, it's and I've kind of put him in between those things, it's just when you're in there, shift a little bit, kind of work the frame and do these things

Class Description

Hack Your Light is part of our special week-long event Lighting Toolkit.

Join award-winning photographer Chuck Arlund for an introduction to innovative lighting methods that result in breathtaking, dynamic images.

Chuck’s methods will enrich the work of a wide variety of photographers, whether you’re a natural light photographer trying to incorporate off camera lighting into your work, a studio photographer wanting to work on location, or a beginner looking to take your work to the next level.

As Chuck guides you through ways to make a photograph you’ve mentally envisioned into a reality, he’ll give you the confidence you need to fearlessly approach approach lighting not as an exact science, but as an art.



I just watched the rebroadcast of Hack Your Light with Chuck Arlund and at first wondered if I would get anything out of the class as he seemed ADD (he warns you he's scattered and a "blond"...LOL) but I stuck with class and by the end was sad it was over. I have a few years experience in photography so I could perhaps understand what he was teaching better than a true beginner. He gave some fabulous points and even demonstrated how you could overpower the sun with one speedlight something I've only seen others do with a strobe or multiple speedlights. He took some awesome pictures without thousands of dollars in camera and lighting equipment. He explained the difference between the portrait and the fashion look. He showed you could potentially go above your camera sync and still get a decently exposed pictured without high speed sync. Best of all he reminded me of the principles that it's the photographer not the camera/equipment that makes the difference, it's all about the light and most of all photography should be FUN! This was one of the most awesome demonstrations of lighting. I would love take a workshop from Mr. Arlund as he is obviously very talented and passionate about photography and knows his subject even is his explanations aren't practiced. Some found him frustrating; I found him refreshing. If you like experimental you will probably appreciate Chuck Arlund.


I have been a pro photographer for 30 years, and I loved watching Chuck and even learned quite a few things. He is creative and enthusiastic, and reminds you to think outside the box and get back to the enthusiasm you had when you first picked up your camera. He certainly knows what he is doing, and he has fun doing it...