During the shoot
Talking and shooting
“Keep talking to your subjects as you’re shooting, giving them direction to pose in a certain way, moving them to avoid sunlight on their faces, and making them laugh to get a reaction and better facial expressions,” says Nik. “I also discovered it’s easier to order people around if they’re not family. Annabel reminded me to keep things informal but retain your authority as photographer so they’ll do as you ask.”
“This was taken on the first round of shots with our second model, Sarah,” says Nik. “We positioned her in a big doorway of an unlit warehouse so she stood out against the darker background, with natural light pouring in. We asked Sarah to flick her blonde hair around for a creative portrait with a little action and movement.
“I managed to get several shots with her hair not obscuring her eyes, but preferred the feel of this shot as the emphasis is more on her joyful smile. With Annabel’s help, we cropped the image square in Photoshop then converted it to black and white for added impact.”
Balancing light and shade
“For this shot we positioned Sarah in a different doorway, keeping her in the shade with natural light falling on her face,” says Nik. “We asked her to crouch for a more interesting head position, then asked her to look up at us through the carefully created gaps in her fringe.
“Shot at a focal length of 200mm for a close-up portrait, I tilted my Canon camera slightly, and positioned her beautiful eyes in the top-third of the frame for a balanced composition.”
“It was great to see how much fun Annabel has on her shoots,” smiles Nik. “She said people often need reminding to loosen up and have fun with photo shoots. So she has a laugh with her subjects, as it also helps them to look good on camera.
“It’s in their interest to smile and pose as it’s their own portraits they’ll be hanging on their walls at home, but it’s the photographer’s job to ensure they look good and capture it on camera.”
Find interesting backgrounds
“I was amazed at the contemporary images we could get by shooting next to beat-up, old containers! Annabel showed how background choice is a great way of injecting some colour into your portraits, and I love the dilapidated blue paintwork and lines of the container.
“We positioned Sarah far enough away from the backdrop so we could knock it out of focus with my lens at 150mm and f/5. Although convention suggests it’s better to have your subject looking into the image and into the space, I think this works well doing the opposite.”
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