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Portrait Photography: Creating and Styling your Environment

Lesson 44 of 52

Image Selection: Building Environment


Portrait Photography: Creating and Styling your Environment

Lesson 44 of 52

Image Selection: Building Environment


Lesson Info

Image Selection: Building Environment

We'll go to the cargo bay. We've got Ken eating a rice bowl. Oh actually no, I thought these were tests from the night before. So we are testing light. Where did we pick up? We put some beanies on. We got the light going there. Kind of like that. And again it's just kind of like the emotion and what feels believable or feels exciting. Also for a shoot like this, I probably wouldn't pay attention on the first round but I would certainly go through on another round and I would be looking at atmosphere and smoke in the top right and I would pick frames that I may be able to compose into the final image if it changed much. It looks like so far it's not changing that drastic. I like kind of some of the quieter moments too. It's always a fine line for me of you know something feeling to showy or like propped versus the moment where it feels like the really interacting with it. That's also, and this is not a slight against anyone, but that's also sometimes. Again we've talked a little bit abo...

ut the difference between models versus actors. And how they kind of fit into a role and I talked with some of the models back stage before we went out and shot and I don't know if I really addressed this but we talked about kind of motivating and directing your subject. So I talked to Erin for example about do you prefer context or do you want me to kind of just pose you. And she felt more comfortable just being posed. So I didn't say like, maybe joking sometimes, but I wasn't like imagine that you are looking over the edge of a boat and you just dropped your keys into the water something like that. Cause again sometimes with photography we are just posing, we are just simply getting someone looking right and hopefully you get an emotion that ties that all in. But I was more posing people in these shoots. But what I wanted to say was there was one time, actually when I was doing the uniform, there was a couple of actors and a couple of model, and most of the people were just people who hadn't been in a photo shoot before. But I thought were right for the role, but there was one gentleman who I worked with who was an actor, he does theater and television and things like that. And he was someone that I worked with in terms of creating context and he wanted to know who his character is and what is he going through what is he experiencing. So we talked about a range of emotions and he was someone who had a cigarette and it was everything is green. The cigarette is green the box is green and man he took that cigarette and he like lit it and he smoked it and he enjoyed it and he didn't really, but watching him, I just let him do his thing at that point and I just had shivers down my back. It was the craziest thing. It was like, the only thing I can compare it to is like someone has a really soothing voice sometimes and it just kind of lulls you into a trance and it was just like that. Just simply you could feel the energy and connection he had to this character and to the act of lighting this cigarette even though it wasn't even real. And that was for me really powerful and realizing wow when someone acts. They transform into the character like that the benefit of actually giving them that context and not just posing because I would have actually lost out on that experience had I just posed him. And he probably wouldn't have felt as comfortable either but I think there really is a distinction between the two and importance in understanding when and how to use that. I kind of feel like I like the ones where she's not looking right at camera. For some reason when she looks at camera it kind of feels like she's too aware. For a minute I was thinking I wish I had moved around a little bit more but that may not be the final feeling but I think that's why it's important to explore and that's a good example again. And we've talked about technical versus broad not even just in lighting but when you set up on a tripod there's not really a lot of movement and when you do move you really got to think it through. For me in this picture in particular moving a tripod means you're done with that. There's no capturing other plates. You gotta make sure you got all your elements and so there are real trade offs. And I'm not saying I won't have a picture here that I love but sometimes you see something later that's like oh gosh hopefully I moved or maybe I'll find something that feels different, but when you see like 10 or 15 images in a row that are off you might be like oh now I should have moved her a little further left or something like that. And that's again why exploring is so important. Because there's not a lot to explore when the shoots over. From these do you remember what prompts you were giving your models in general? Does that have any impact or you're just solely focused on. I don't really remember and I don't know that it would matter to me. But it's for me just right now it's just about the image and how it feels regardless of how we got there. I do like the knife, and that's the other cool thing because the camera is on tripod though we can put that knife in any picture even the ones that it wasn't in. If I decide that I like an earlier on first or something. I think we're nearing the end here. So here we got our ones. We're down to 20 again I'm going a little fast. I feel like I like the ones where she's looking this way a little better. This ones actually interesting. This one's kind of cool. Alright so we've got those. We're down to four. I like this, I'm not totally sold on the expression. Sometimes depending, there might be one really similar with the right expression but this was like so close, I would look and see if I had an expression that fit in and comp it all together. I do like this one also which is very similar to this. This one the light on this one's really cool. And again I have to decide is that influencing me completely or do I actually really like this picture because I mean probably we could get any of these to look like that. But I think I do just really like the pose too, so I'm gonna mark it. So here I'll let you guys. You got three. So we got one, two, three. Three? Oh unanimous, I like three too. I think three's pretty fun. I have a technical question. When you are shooting are you shooting on external plate, an internal plate drive, so are you mirroring how are you get sure that something happens on the set for example your computer is getting broke so to have all the pictures. So do you make dual storage? Yes I have to talk to josh about what he did on this particular shoot but typically I mean the arrangement and I'm sure he did we'll always shoot. You have to shoot to the computer. It gets really buggy if you shoot to a hardrive. We've tried that before. So always shoot to the computer and we'll have a backup running and then again I have to think, I don't know exactly what we did this time and that's kind of the benefit of having a tech. Someone who thinks about it for you. But we will always have at least three copies. Like last night we had four copies. So josh took one home, I took one home, I also had it on my computer and I think we left a copy here, so it's just redundancy for you know physical damage, or theft, or fire, or whatever it is. And it's just kind of spreading it out. Especially we do that whenever traveling. So like not everyone should have all the data on one drive in case who knows what TSA or stolen luggage or something like that so but yeah we're always trying to keep a constant backup while shooting and whether the second backup happens at that point or later I'm not entirely sure but backing up you can't do it enough. I've been burned I've experienced the worst of the worst.

Class Description

Connect to your photos
Don’t capture another picture that says nothing of your own style. Grow your confidence in creating or styling a portrait that pops and, more importantly, resonates. Recognize that you’re tired of feeling disconnected to your photography.

Tap into your artistic vision
Establishing your creative voice and finding the inspiration and support to stay with it are essential skills for a career in photography. Commit to mastering the technical elements so you can save time in production, focus on creating images with emotion, and start making the pictures that express your creative vision and ultimately resemble what you want to get paid to take.

Learn from the authority: John Keatley
John’s photos have filled the pages of Rolling Stone, Wired, and the New York Times Magazine. He’s covered celebrities from Anthony Hopkins to Macklemore and even had the rare opportunity to photograph Annie Leibovitz. He’s also passionate about education and supporting artists to find their personal style.

In this one-of-a-kind class, John breaks down how to conceptualize, produce, style, light and fine-tune your ideas. He leads you through the creation of an environmental portrait series, showing you how to make a vision come to life with any budget.

What you get out of this exclusive shoot:

  • Find inspiration and execute your vision
  • Research and create desired environments for set design or location scouting
  • Cast for portrait and direct subjects on set
  • Build a team of support around your project
  • Lighting and styles to make the background and subject work together
  • Creative ways to build your vision, regardless of budgetary limitations

Commit to your creativity
Are you ready to push the boundaries and find your unique voice? Get the hands-on tools to flex your creativity, collaborate for results, and carry out your vision.


a Creativelive Student

What an amazing show. I'm so happy that I could be a part of it. It was so great to see John at work and in his element. I learned so much from watching his process from beginning to ending. So many questions have been answered. I feel more confident, to get myself out there and create and make work that comes out from my imagination. I will definitely be keeping a journal/notebook with me at all times. I would also like to suggest that we have another course for John Cornicello, home studio. I'm curious to see what John is working on in his studio.

Doppio Studio

It's amazing to watch and understand how this great creative professional work. There's a lot to learn about with his production process. For me, that lives in Brazil, is a major opportunity to enjoy this class.

Vitamin Dee

Wow! There's just so much great information in this class. If you've ever wondered what it takes to produce an environmental portrait, this is the class for you! John did a superb job of taking us step-by-step through his process. From model casting to set building, lighting setups to culling; it's all here. He even wraps up the class with next steps and how to put it all together. He gives the knowledge so you can take it to a place you can create your own magic!