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Shooting Creative Portraits With Props

Lesson 7 of 8

Shoot: Creating a Collage with Multiple Props

Joshua Kissi

Shooting Creative Portraits With Props

Joshua Kissi

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Lesson Info

7. Shoot: Creating a Collage with Multiple Props

Lesson Info

Shoot: Creating a Collage with Multiple Props

Imma have Karen come back out for this one. She's great. Again this background is a little bit more lighter. You could do a little bit more happier commercial stuff. So this should be fun. Let's see. Again, it's pretty nice with the stripes going on with the plant in the background. Again, the plant is just a, I feel like in the last five years everybody's been using more plants. Just a nice way to bring some life into a photo. 'Cause once you take out the plant, it feels like a different photo. Feels more of a headshot for like LinkedIn or whatever rather than like something you could just put in your portraits or put on Instagram, whatever the case is. Again, you could use the prism. Right over her face, get that chin up a little bit, yep. That's a cool photo. So yeah, it's just different way, I like the photo. Notice there's different ways to kind of get the streaks going depending on how it hits the light, and that's how I was saying like it's time consuming but it's worth it once ...

you get the right type of image. So you'll probably shoot a lot, but if you're lookin' for like 30 selects, you'll definitely get them as well, so. That's cool. Karen, you funny. I love the way you hold a smile. It's a talent to hold a smile for so long. It's really good. This could pick up some of the background. So this one is interesting 'cause it has multiple mirrors, so you'll kinda see the effect on the bottom half of the photo, so it's another way to get interesting with it. Chin up a little bit? Yeah, perfect. Nice. Awesome. Just a little bit more abstract, but still feels interesting, where you have mirror effect on her left. I really like that photo. Does anybody else want to volunteer themselves to... Awesome, yes. Come forward. Thank you Karen, 'ppreciate it. Yeah, the green would be nice. Again, awesome. Nice to meet you. Nice to meet you. In front of this whole class. Awesome, so right now I'm using the prism again. And... And you could kinda get a feel for what you're gonna see, of course I have a EVF screen, it's electric view finder, so I could look at my screen and see what I'll get once I put the images in there so it's easier. Nice. Candy, can I get the yellow flowers please? Sure. Thank you. Nice. So it's another way to create like this collage basically which you can do in post, but it's like to do it straight up on camera is pretty fun. You could come up with a plethora of different combinations. Like if you're gonna do this in post, it'll take you a long time just to kinda figure out what combinations work for each photo. So you get that for me. If you could just hold that. Yeah, like literally right by your chin. Like yeah, like there, a little higher, yeah. And you're gonna face this way a little bit, yep. And bring the flowers a little bit back, like here. Awesome. And chin up a little bit. And gimme a nice smile as you would, nice. And you got that going. Again, I like this one. In the back or the left of the photo, you kinda see the mirror effect texture. In the front it's more clean. And again like I said earlier, having somebody holding something just gives them a little bit more of a comfort while they're shooting. Do you have any questions? I have a question about how you'd manage two different skin tones in the same image, maybe could you demo that? No no. Is it a challenge? It is a challenge though because, of course, Karen was a different skin tone from, sorry what's your name? Catherine Catherine, so it's just about finding that in between. For me, skin tone is very important while I'm shooting. I really want it to look the best on each subject, whatever your skin tone is and diversity is really important for photography for me so, I spent a lot of time trying to perfect the dials on people with darker skin tones and making sure they look the best and not underexposed, not overexposed, and yeah, so it takes a little bit of tinkering with the programs, but you get it right pretty much, yeah. Yeah, no, I, up again, just by, yep, awesome. Yeah I really like that last one, it's cool. It's really really nice. Can you smile again one more time? Yep. Awesome. I know a lot of people would love to know how I edit, but that's another class for another day. That's another class for another day. Awesome, any more questions or anybody that wants to... Yes, absolutely. Hey, I'm really enjoying this class, I'm super excited about this content, so thank you. I'm curious if you always bring, if you always use what you bring or if you're ever inspired if you're doing something on location to experiment with some of the available objects. It's a combination of two, so, I'll bring what I bring and once I get there and see what's there I'll be able to use that as well. There could be anything around, especially when you're shooting in New York City, so there's so many random things around the street that you could kinda pick up and just kinda use. And you can't really plan for that stuff, so you could maybe plan like maybe 85% of it and leave the rest to kind of like free thought and just freestyle once you pick up your camera, certain angles, lighting, prop, so I don't like to over prepare too much but I like to leave a little bit of room to kinda experiment, yeah, absolutely. So now when clients hire you for portraits, they kind of know your style... Yeah, that's true, yes. So they know what they're gonna get. I do, one of my businesses, I do boring headshots, and I'm bored of them. How do I convince new clients that I want to experiment and do something more exciting if what they're used to is boring headshots, they want for LinkedIn. Oh you said boring headshots, gotcha. I'm sorry that's your expertise. But I think it's shooting a test shoot with family friends, being able to create a mood board and showing that to them like hey, here's an example of what I'll love to do for you guys, and a headshot could be a headshot, but it's like most corporate companies want the gray background with smiling and that's fine but it's like I could capture that, but let's capture alternative. So you do kinda two shots at the same time as you're experimenting. So they still get what they want and as well as you still get what you want in the sense where it's creative freedom so I think that's the best way to go about it without ruffling anybody's feathers and like oh, not hiring you again, you're not doing the boring stuff, leave. No, but it's a good way to kind of like experiment 'cause you earn new clients that way 'cause those new clients may see your newer stuff and be like hey, we love what you're doing we wanna work with you there, yeah. Any other questions from audience? Yeah. I've got a bunch of questions. Oh man, come on. I'd love to know how you sort of, it seems like being creative, like if you're working with a high profile client, artist or something, they come in, you're sort of being creative in this creative process, it takes a little bit longer than doing like, the two minute headshot that you'd rush through, normally. Yeah, yeah. How do work with your clients, I guess, to sort of get them involved in that creative process so that they don't feel like they're just sitting there while you're experimenting... That's true, I think that's, y'know once they say client's on set, like you're already like, super super aware of like how you deal with them and what the cadence of the day is. If you're just shooting, it's just you and the subject, like you could just do that. But if the client is gonna be on set, you wanna be able to show them images, so if you're shooting tethered, that helps, but also ask them for feedback, and I mean some photographers don't like that, like everybody's ego, but I think for the most part I'm always open to like, hey what else could I be doing better, what do you feel like I could be doing, as far as the styling or the makeup, do you like the makeup? You don't like the makeup? Do you like the styling? Do you like the location? So it's really just opening up the conversation, but most clients are like, hey we came to you because we like what you do, so just continue to do that, so I think that's a special place you want to be in where they trust in your work and vision where they're not asking too many questions. But if they add something, it's actually like beneficial to the shoot, so it's like okay, cool, like maybe try this angle. And you do it and it goes well, you kind of build up a rapport and everybody's kinda winning at that point. How would you talk us through how you prepare and sort of shoot an album cover, what would like, or at least the shoot itself. Oh the shoot itself? ... Creatively prep for it. I try to listen to the music over and over again, even if it's bad. I'll try to listen to the music to get into the zone of like, what is this artist trying to say, what's the message? And look at images that kind of come to mind while thinking of the music based on lyrics, based the sound cadence, based on like whatever the vibe is of the genre of music, I try to think around that like from my vision what would that look like. So me and that artist collaborating I'm trying to think of images that'll make sense for both of us or both parties, rather, so listen to the music for at least a week, and as well as just researching more about the artist as well as suggesting things like hey, what if we go in this direction? 'Cause I've been in a place where I suggested thing and the artist was like no way, I'm not doing on three chains, or whatever the case is like 'cause like that's not my vibe or whatever, it's just small details but sometimes it's great for artists to be like that's me and that's not me. So it's just, you don't take it personally, you just keep going, you be like okay this is what we should do and take it from there, so, it's really building a relationship in collaboration. And it's long term because that album cover's just one thing but they may use press materials, maybe social media, maybe logos and tra-, like all these other things, so, once you shoot that artist, you know you see their stuff on Spotify and iTunes and all that stuff so, depending on how big they are, you see the roll out. For the Lecrae album, it's like in the middle of Time Square so I saw my photos all over the Time Square and that was cool 'cause I was like wow, I just that in a little room in Atlanta and now it's like all over Time Square in my city so that was really cool to witness.

Class Description

Photographers are always looking for new and innovative ways to add a little spice to their portraits and stand out in a crowded field. But sometimes, all you really need is a well-chosen, well-placed prop to transform your image into something special. Photographer and entrepreneur Joshua Kissi will show you how to use props to create the mood, emotion, and texture you’re looking for.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Use props wisely without overdoing it.
  • Utilize prisms and reflectors to add special effects to your imagery.
  • Change the dynamic of your portrait by adding a vase of flowers or piece of furniture.

If you’ve been wanting to add more props to your shoots but weren’t sure how to do it, this course will help you incorporate them with style and impact.

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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Lola St. John

I love the creativity this instructor brings. It has inspired me to step out of my comfort zone and try different props.


I loved watching him in his element. Can't wait to put these ideas into practice. Please bring him back!


Good class. Bring him back for a class on his editing.