How to Create a Natural Light Cinematic Portrait
So there's an older building in my hometown, and I had a studio there for a while, but it had this one, random room, it was an old break-room, when there used to be some company run out of there, it was no longer used, but every night at about six o'clock, the light would come through the blinds and put this pattern. So this was one of my former client's daughters, I just had her sit in, I knew she was real photogenic, she always liked doing photos, so I thought "How about you just come, all you need to do is sit here, and when the light's right, I'm just gonna shoot natural light, nothing else." There is no story, but again, it's just this quiet moment where the light tells that graphic story, you have all these lines in the background, whether they're the molding and trim on the door and walls, the general reflection of the table, her sitting there just looking out the window. And again, there's no real story here, it's just a cut moment that's kind of an interesting photo, and we ju...
st sat there until the light disappeared, so this was my favorite frame from that shot, so there's not a lot to it. When using natural light, I allow the light to help tell the story, in this case it's pretty obvious, it's the graphic lines from the blinds on the wall, in other cases it's not so obvious, you just need to find it and figure out what works for the story you want to tell. Interesting light patterns, and I always play with shadows; there's another shot, I don't have it on here, where there's a parking garage where there was these harsh lines of light coming through wider pillars, and it's playing with things like that that lead the eye to where you want it to go that help tell that story, so I'm all about guiding people's eyes towards where I want them to be within an image, from a technical standpoint, it's where is that center of interest? Where do you want people to look in your frame? And leading them there, and then also using that light in weird ways; the class I taught before this was a one-light portrait, it was all about how to properly use light, and how to know the fundamentals, and with this it's kind of like "Okay, now how do we throw that out the window and screw it all up, and do something that's totally different, a little bit weird and tells a story that's less technically sound?" But at the same time, I still can't get away from the technical background I have, so everything's always gonna be properly exposed and all that. Again, it doesn't matter the type of light you use, it's whatever tells the story; if you're telling a story that's a real quiet moment and gentle, maybe you want to use soft light, because it accents that type of moment. If you want to use hard light, maybe you have a moment that's a little more rough, or something that's tough, or maybe it's something to do with sports; I did a photo of a guy dribbling a basketball, I wonder if it's in, it's probably later on in the slides here. But that was a time where I used two, really hard, Magnum Reflectors, just silver reflectors to cast light, almost like it was the stadium lights shining down on him to overpower ambience, so you just gotta figure out what type of light you want and what the scenario is, so what kind of light does that scenario call for? And that'll help you pick your lighting, so you just want to compliment the subject or story, not detract from it and be distracting. Here's a few more, these were just random moments, again, bottom left is just a guy going down the stairs into the subway by my old place, shot from above, again, you can tell graphic compositions; the one above it is a girl, not a big smile on her face or anything like that, but just leaping back and forth off of this bottom staircase off of the curb, and I just like the graphic composition of that. All that green and the yellow curb line, and the bottom with her jumping up, just one moment, still a flattering photo. So these are all natural light, the bottom middle one is a girl walking on the beach, and again, embracing that shadow that was cast; I could see that when I was down low, but I wanted to capture the shadow to almost mimic what she's doing, so I needed to get up high and make it more of a graphic composition. Using depth like the photos on the right and the one above it; shooting through windows, or in that case, a pillar to create that depth where it feels like there's something between you and this image, you're not right there with the person, but there's something else going on that helps tell the story, whatever it may be.