Portraits at Night


Lesson Info


What's a portrait without people? Well, honestly, it's not a portrait. Let's talk about subjects. Your path to greatness starts with this. You. Shoot selfies first. This last picture, that's me, I shot that like a couple weeks ago. I still experiment with self-portraiture. Here's one that I shot about four years ago. It's great, it's great to start with yourself. Second, if you have friends or family. Guinea pigs, ask them to do it with you. Pay them with coffee, beer, whiskey, water, whatever they like. And third, once you've worked through all of those things and you're feeling a little more comfortable, then you can start to work with professionals. You know, models or collaborators, if you want to bring another artist in. This photograph I made because I was curious. I was driving through Montana on a road trip with my best friend, and I said, I've got a little flash and I've got a big sky. I've gotta make something happen here. So he didn't want to be in the picture, so I'm like, ...

you know what, I'm gonna stand out there, you stand over here, press this orange button when I say. Set up the tripod, ran out there, arms akimbo. Hit the flash, and boom, I made this. Learned a little bit about ghosting, it was fun. After he saw that picture, we made another picture with both of us in it. So you can encourage people to get in the pictures by taking pictures of yourself, too. Next, tripods, if you're shooting with other photographers, why not take pictures of them? The one on the left is me, and it's actually four pictures put together, I just set my camera on intervalometer and I sort of walked around with a flashlight. I was just seeing, what can I do? I held the flashlight above my head, doing all that fun stuff, and the one on the right is Gabe. One's in New York City, one's in Nevada. It's always great to just sort of turn your camera away from the scene and take a portrait of the people you're with. Great practice. And this may sound crazy, but it's really important to be humble. When you're working with people, if you're an egotistical maniac, they might work with you once. If you are humble and gracious, they'll work with you infinity times. Number two, you should start by sharing the dream you want to achieve. Not like, hey, let's go take some pictures. Yeah, that's cool. But if you say, hey, I want to dress you in a crazy paper mask and put you on top of a tower and take a picture where there's like stars swirling around you and then we're gonna make an explosion and then all this, it sounds a lot better than let's make pictures, right? Think of your dream, tell it to them, get them on board. Number three, ask for help. If you don't know how to do something, call a friend. This is, photographers actually like to help each other. It's surprising. And number four, if you do all these things, the people that you want to attract, they will come to you, just stick with the dream. And once they come to you, how do you take care of them? Well, bring water and snacks, bring sandals, 'cause if you're asking them to walk in strange places, make sure their feet are okay. Bring a tote bag, this I've learned the hard way. If they have stuff and you want them to wear other stuff, they've got to put their stuff someplace. So you should bring a tote bag so they can put their stuff in there. And number four, ask them how they're feeling, check in. Make sure that you understand how they feel. If they feel uncomfortable, stop what's going on. Let them feel comfortable again. When you exceed yourself, you are going to magnetically attract the people that want to work with you. And the people that don't, you're not going to, and that's an important thing, too. You only want to work with the people that you like. Most importantly, when you do that, you're more likely to make it fun. If you're not, work on that, make it more fun. Have fun with these people, play music, do all that great stuff. And this sort of wraps it all up. When you're thinking about subjects, you gotta take care of them, you gotta plan for their safety, you gotta make sure that it's fun for them, and you gotta be a good person, too. You're also part of this process. Alright, get out there, find some great subjects.

Class Description

Learn to capture amazing environmental portraits at night and incorporate a starry landscape or beautiful urban environment with your subjects. Get started in night portraiture by knowing what gear to choose, what to look for in locations and how to use your friends as subjects. Incorporate lights into your night photos and bring life to a long exposure. In this class you’ll learn: How to take self portraits at night without losing any of your background or subject How to choose a light source and add life to long exposures What to get right in camera and how to develop your images further in lightroom How to safely use pyrotechnics to take your portraits to another level  



I learned some techniques in Matt's class, which were helpful, but believe this was for the advanced photographer and i was a little confused at times. i would've liked to know the "how to" with the lights, showing how to program them with more detail. I am just learning how to set my camera for different lighting situations. But a very interesting course and glad i went through it.


Great class! Liked it so much that I booked a trip to Colorado to work with Matt and Lance on one of their National Parks at Night classes. Highly recommend.

Peter Mackenzie

I don't understand the negative reviews. This class feels less hands-on than the other classes in the series, but the information is useful and makes sense. You also need to understand that all classes out of the night photography series will cover the basics in one way or another, so there is some repetition. Whichever class out of the night photography series you view last will feel like it has more repetition, especially if you have some skills before taking those classes. Just skip the intro and move on to the tricks Matt has to share.