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Pose It, Light It, Love It

Lesson 13 of 33

Student Portrait Critiques

Clay Blackmore

Pose It, Light It, Love It

Clay Blackmore

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Lesson Info

13. Student Portrait Critiques

Lesson Info

Student Portrait Critiques

Let's take a look at picture number one. Christina. Working his Hey, Sorry. We're gonna put the pressure on you. So here. We've got a full face, a profile and a 2/3. Okay, let's go back and take a look at these on your full face portrait. You've done well here. One problem you've got in. A lot of people do this. You put your subject right up against the background. So that feels a little bit to me. Busy. My, I wants to see the background. I want the background to disappear. So bring your subject off the wall. One thing you did here, which is very common. I see this all the time. Her eyes were right in the middle of the picture right here. Where did those eyes belong? Upper third. So sometimes I even cut off the top of the head on a picture. But I have samples in my studio to show the customers I do that because it's a close up and the and you can get away with it. Watch those beautiful Hollywood movies and you'll see the heads cut off all the time on, You know, Humphrey Bogart and you ...

know all these great movie stars and Marilyn Monroe there in close. They're cutting the heads off so we can get away with that. If we're in close, the eyeglasses have no reflection. You did well with that. I wanted really point out one thing that you did here you've got You've got the feminine pose. Pose. Well, okay. I love it. I want a little more support. I need a little more support. Okay. You see, it's how you cut into close. But when she leans this way and turns her face this way where it is the lightning to be over here. You've got the light over here. You've got your loop shadow. But the light needs to come on this side. Other than that, you got it. Way go the profiles. Great. She's got a area here that you might want to go in and liquefy a little bit. And the eyeglasses? You might just take off for the profile, right? But I think other than that, the light here also is a little flat. Doesn't it feel like it's kind of flat? So you want to bring that light around for me, but you're to third view I mean, I really think you nailed that. You've got the light on the correct side. The catch lights look good. I think that's great. I just think you should pull back a little bit, give her a little breathing room and maybe get her off the wall just a little bit with a separation like behind. Very good. That last portrait kind of saved you. All right, here we go, full face. Let's talk about it. Shoulders. First thing I see or the shoulders are square and their level. So I'm going to drop one of the shoulders. This you Monica. So other than that, you know, I think she's not cooperating. That's why we have to be quick and boldness of attack and and bribed them. I'll take you out to dinner if you'll just do this for me. So there's your 2/3 view, and this is a new area we talked about is a tip is try to keep your eyes centered. You see, I she's cutting her eyes back at you. I called those Egyptian eyes like on a profiling is to put the pupil right there on the edge. You know, it looks really funny. So what you need to do here is to get the shoulders posed first, then tipped the head to the high shoulder. You know, I remember this when I was teaching at once. All right, here we go. Can you Can you force it up? Sit up in your chair. So you guys have a camera mount my four students as well. I want you to lean this way and look that way. Now tip your head that way. Now lean this way and look that way. All right, Lean this way and look that way. Come on, Don. You're part of this. Sit up. Hands on your hips. Set up. Come on, Sit. Opposed. Light lift, refined. Go this way and look that way. Look. Yeah. There you go. You're on the feminine pose. Now go this way and look that way right now in unison. Let's go. I want you to clap with me a men. Hey, now you think I'm kidding? But you're going to get to a wedding. Or important. You could say that guy was crazy. But you know what? I did remember that because of that little trick he did with us. So you lean this way and you look that way. You lean this way and you look that way. And what's happening here you've got are just kind of going like this out of the side of her face. Okay, let's keep going again. Here, the lights of little flat. And where the shoulders there sideways. They need to be 45. So what's really need? I really never hammered this home. Is that Let's say that I'm here is my light source here. I want to be turning my body away from the light tipping my head here. The lights in place one time. Right loop shadow. Now watch this. I'm gonna go to 2/3. The light is like, walked on. Now I'm gonna go to profile the lights locked on. So as you go around the profile, that light needs to be coming from back here. Okay, But this is great. You got to keep after it. Here we go, Don. Beautiful portrait. I just think so far this one just jumps off the page. The lighting's a little bit flat. She needs to bring her elbows out. She's in a 2/ view with her eyes cut back to the camera. I like the portrait a lot. She would be looking straight ahead for the views we were showing yesterday. But I said yesterday, when the picture looks good, take it. I want to get a little more support. A little more separation. The lighting also here seems very flat. Are using off camera. I see a little bit of shadow there. You're off camera lighting, aren't you? Yep. There's a shadow. Good job done. I like what you did here. And then you get the full face. Here is that thing where we talked about expression. What is the perfect expression for a portrait? Think of the Mona Lisa. Seriously, they always say, in all time she's got this hint of a smile on. All you want to do is know what she's thinking about. So it's an afterglow of a smile. Big toothy grin. Your eyes close a lot. We found that out with Hannah today. I'm gonna do a portrait any second here. The sooner the better. Because I want to shoot. I said today, the producer I had this slide show that was like 20 slides 40 slices. Just shoot. That's what the audience wants, and that's what I love to do. And that's a nice profile. But what you have here you've got are leaning down this direction. So she needs to be going this way looking that way. Remember that. You see you've got are going like this. She needs to be like that. That should be the back shoulder. Okay. You know, on this subject right here, can Hannah, can you just walk in here my model and just hand me that little statue right over here? I want to just hold that up again. All right, Jerry? All right. Jerry is crawling under the chair. Thank you. You go off stage. Let me just go back here again. You know, when you start looking at this statue and realize it's just that she never moved the light moves with her. And when we come by window light right now, it's gonna bring it home in a big way. I promise you, because it's going to be It's going to be the camera position. OK, so full length. So we're gonna go full face. So this one's too cute picture. I mean, if I were to critique it, I feel like what's happening here. You know, it's just kind of stiff looking. Her shoulders dropped the back shoulder point than a member of the feet position. So you shot this picture last night? Okay? Did you get in close? Here we go. There's the profile. But what's happened in the lights on the wrong side? You see what the light should be over here. Coming from the back, That feels a little flat. But this is Ah, fun portrait. I'm sure she would love it. She's kind of leaning like this. I wanted to lean this way. You know what I mean? And Tipper head back. You know, we're a great place to learn how to do this. Go to an art museum. I love D. C. Because we have the National Portrait Gallery. I go to Paris. The first thing is, let's go to the moon. Mantra is a great place for museums. But what's that? The d'Orsay museum dio or say you go every floor and you know, if a painter is gonna start a portrait, he's gonna spend four months on that campus. He's gonna get the pose and the light really good. And that's where all of these things. I'm sure when you come from and we don't have to try to reinvent it, it's all done in art like that. Everybody loves these little speed lights. And so the whole industry seems to want to go to the battery operated system. You see me out there with those big lights yesterday, and you're like, I would never do that. Do you know? I'm telling you guys, those things pack into two bags under £50 each. But I had on stage yesterday, and that's why the work looks so good. And I find that the people that take the effort to doom or and to go out there and get it all the way they're the people that are successful, the people that want to go the easy way out. I feel they're the ones that are struggling. So let's go through this real fast and start shooting. Look how gorgeous the window is here. I'm looking at the young lady in the window down below. See how soft? Delighted. See the profile? This was a sunny day. So look what I did. I put the scrim in the window. If you look at her catch lights in her eyes right there. They're gigantic because I made my own soft box right there. Did you see that? So here is what I call harnessing the light, and we're going to do this right now. That's nothing but a window. So what I have to do when I say harness the light is I want to turn the face to the shadow. Does that make sense to you? See the loop shadow? So she's not looking into the window. I'd like to do this right here. The windows here. If I look into the window, the window is my life's gonna be flat. OK, but if I turn my face like this now, I've got the shadowing in here that you see in this photograph. It's exactly what we did yesterday. This is one of my favorite pain Portrait's and Jane Connors. Isar. She's amazing. Did some post production on it, but this is in a garage. We just opened the garage door up, split lighting and a reflector. Isn't that beautiful? And that's just all window light. This is kind of what it's gonna look like today. The backgrounds, a simple pop out west got background. You know this could go everywhere I go because it's white, black and it's nondescript and it's an easy way to work. My friend's wife broke water when we were in the air flying home from Fort Lauderdale and I took him home and the first thing we did. It's a long story and I'm not gonna tell a gin, but it's a great story. But this baby was born about eight hours later in a home birth, and that picture just really resonates to all of us. But look at the profile. Look at the 2/3 and even the dogs in profile. You see that? The Saint Bernard? I feel like it's a Norman Rockwell painting to me, but knowing which side to put the reflector on is really crucial. Normally you would put the reflector on the shadowed side of the face. Do you see that? The reflector here's on the highlight side. I'm gonna show you why? Because it can create a beautiful highlight when I'm at a wedding. I'm always used in windows, But look, Look what I'm doing. I'm shooting towards the window. This is window light at my back. Very amateur feeling to that picture to me. If I turn around and shoot into the window, I feel like I'm getting better lining. So I like to work into the window, shooting in and making these beautiful feelings, showing the window. Now this is a picture I set up, and then I walked away and one of my associates took this photograph and the cameras too high. I don't even think about camera height. That's one of those things that's drilled into me for a full length. What's camera height? The naval, then that cameras too high and it distorts the picture. And I don't I didn't even show this to the bride, but that's so important. Now look, kids. Now we've been having fun with post light, lift, refined. When it comes to Children, we don't pose them. We don't like them. We just hope we get him. We're gonna anchor them. We're gonna play game with him and the windows are the way to go because you can put the parents outside the window. And this little guy, Bradley, I did a book for him. He's just came to the studio the other day. His mother's outside and he's going Hey, there's Mommy! Click, click, click. Now, at this moment, I could make a little noise or have a bell and he would look right at me and we have the shot. This slide is in here for one reason. To show you this Muslim that I've kind of clipped across the bottom of the garage door. Do you see that? What do you think I'm doing there? Been yet in the light. So this studio is made for it because you see we don't have low windows, but usually when you go into a house, much of the light comes in from below wine. It bounces off the pavement. There's an eve over the roof, and so the light comes in low and it'll light up a wedding gown. The Bryant's got makeup on her gowns to stops brighter. She stands by the window, the lights hitting her gown and her face is already two stops darker and we miss it. So what are we gonna do? We're gonna vignette the light lower the people put scrims in the base of the windows. That's really important. And there's the portrait right there, Mrs. Ahead shop for a young actor made all by window line. I'm shooting through a little ring. It's a little daylight fluorescent ring. And then we went to a darker background here, and I thought the background is too dark. I put a little bear Bobin so you could know that flash is daylight flashes balance for daylight so we can use window light and daylight together. That Q flash is amazing. I'm gonna use it on the roof today. It's bearable. Here. I'll hold on a second. You can go bare bulb or reflector. When I made the pdf for you guys that buy the course, I was writing little stories about each of those pictures over half of my favorite pictures, and there were made with a Q flash. It always works. It's always there. It's strong. It's week. It's durable. It's rugged. It's the quantum que flash I've always used. It hears her about mitzvah. I put an orchid on the posing table and shot through the working. Now that's what we call layers of debt. You know, handsome Funk said, Let your I, you know three dimensional feel, come into the camera by building layer, shooting through things like that. Now this is just a Reflektor in a scrim. This is probably what's gonna happen on the roof today because it's nondescript. It's the Uncluttered look. It's just one reflector. And then this is the same thing and infrared now infrared to become a big tool for me. So when we go on the roof, let's take our I R camera. We haven't modified. It'll always shoot black and white ir here. We're just shooting through some dirty glasses called harnessing light. And look what we did. We came up with that image again. These This is one of my favorite pictures from this whole wedding. I'm in the house there in the doorway and I'm shooting through the doorway. So this is a lesson. I mean, I'm looking right at the camera to say if you could remember anything that we're talking about today. Shoot from the dark to the light. That's what I want you to do. Shoot from the dark to the light and this little light on the edge of the face is so important. And now the light is coming from one window. Look at the window, one window. We've added a little flash in this picture But again, the reflector, Which side isn't on its on the window side, not the shadow side. 98% of America is gonna have that reflector over on the shadowed side. So I'm going to show you over here. The difference. What I'm doing with it is creating a main light and that edge light right across her face. Okay, I've laid the foundation. Also, I'm in a commissary and pp of a in Atlanta, and I'm hating the background. So look what I did. I just took a table and flipped it over onto two chairs and we're shooting against a table you would eat dinner on, you know? And there's the background. I love it. It's just that metal plate. Okay, let's take pictures. Let's go fast. Come on in him and I'll get questions. Let's go. Yeah, just a couple of questions before we get going. And this was from the chat rooms. If you could just explain again what this is from Kyle Photo What a loop shadow is and also vs Rembrandt Shadow. Okay, the Rembrandt shadow is gonna touch the lip, and it's going to create a triangle patch of light and it's going to distort the mouth a little bit. So the loop shadow stays up a little tighter, and I think that's why they coined it. The modified modified loop because it stays at a time now, one light in Israel popular is short lighting. Everybody says What is short lighting for me? That means I've got the light here and I'm shooting into the shadow. If I brought the light around and put it on the front of the face, that's broad lighting, so I don't. I rarely rarely broad light, although lately I've been getting, you know, more variety. You know what is more variety mean more sales? And so I have a portrait studio study in my studio and all short lighting and then real quick, I'll say, Just stay there and I'll bring the light over here and then our broad lighting and I'll give them a lot of variety, and I say, Look, a business portrait Studios 1 25 But if you would like to own extra files there, $75 each, and that really makes a nice little deals. People get three or four pictures, and the whole thing is in and out of the studio Less than an hour. Okay. And my staff does the download The website. I use SmugMug. And let me tell you guys a shout out for one of the best things ever did when I went over to SmugMug. Because everything goes up for archiving. I used to worry at night about those pictures. I couldn't sleep thinking What if I lose those wedding pictures? Now I upload him medium rez and there there forever. So the SmugMug interface the galleries, and we're selling more pictures. And guess what? I think it overall, I make more money per capita doing business portrait, you know, for time spent.

Class Description

Join Clay Blackmore for a three-day immersion into the art of photography. Drawing on decades of experience, Clay will cover the essential posing, lighting, and composition skills that are key to creating jaw-dropping images with any camera.

You’ll explore working with both natural and in-studio light. Learn about the essentials of portrait posing, including strategies for working with individuals, couples, and groups. Clay will also share his fail-proof tips for making on-the-fly adjustments so you're able to work seamlessly with any subject, in any environment and source of light. You'll also master the art of capturing the picture-perfect wedding story quickly, reliably, and completely with stunning results.

Whether you’ve been taking photographs for years or are just starting out, this course will give you the knowledge and inspiration to take your work to the next level.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Clay Blackmore Top 10.pdf

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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a Creativelive Student

Clay Blackmore is the real deal in portrait photography. The guy is a bundle of creative energy and technical mastery. I took portraiture with Monte Zucker, and am glad to have Clay now as his successor. This concepts in this course are the rudiments. They'll never change, regardless of trends and fads. Clay is also very likable and fun to watch work. Keep your ears peeled for every word. When Clay points out those many little details, they all count. Love the course, and have a ton of respect for Clay. He's a portrait master, and a great guy. What else could any portrait student hope for?


This a wonderful class. Clay has worked w/Montey and brings a supreme knowledge to photographers who want to learn more. His skills are creative and insightful with a modest personality. This is an amazing class that comes with a great price.

Tom Lokos

Of all the courses I have purchased without exception this is the best. Clay is an excellent teacher. When he speaks he is saying something and not just talking. He explains his lighting techniques in great detail while demonstrating them . He is clear, concise and fun to listen to. You will learn how to pose individuals all the way to large groups, while learning the correct way to light them. All this while being entertained by one of America's great portrait photographers.