Natural Light Portraits-and-Processing Photography Workshop | May 10th, 2013

Natural Light Portrait Photography Workshop Students

Living in California, we are spoiled with beautiful weather, and even when our weather is bad, all we need are some warm boots and maybe an umbrella. (Yes, most of us still walk around in flip flops while it's "freezing") So whether it's cloudy or sunny, raining or night time- it's always a great time for portrait photography. I went for a ‘back-yard-shindig' themed photo session- mostly to stress the importance of making our subjects, clients, and models comfortable. I like to suggest to my clients using their homes for the location to shoot, especially families with children, because everyone will be most comfortable! All 6 photographers were geared up, with their settings ready for an individual portrait shoot- we had 2 models, Tyler-Fawn and Nicole, as well as our own stylist to share hair and makeup tips & what NOT to wear- thank you Dawn!

I set up one model and posed her, snapping a quick comp to share an example of composition- set up the next model close by and snapped a couple shots to show the beneficial differences of a changing the ƒ/stop setting! We moved around the property, continuing to practice changing the orientation of the camera, reminding our models to relax their shoulders slightly, and adjusting compositions. We shot our prop shot in the front yard using a giant blooming prickly poppy, for an ethereal, high key portrait. Finally, headed in to the back, where I had set up a translucent background of white, to simulate a high-key studio image and a day at the beach! Switching our light meters from Evaluative to Spot metering, we were able to expose only for our subject, telling our cameras not to read bright reflective surfaces (ie, beaches, lakes and snow!) With full memory cards, I sent my group out to break for lunch and told them to meet me back at the Aperture Academy in Campbell!

Returning to the gallery, I was excited to show my new photo friends my methods for not only editing and producing images, but also file storage and handling. Each photographer sat at their own work stations, operating both Adobe programs, Lightroom [LR] and Photoshop [PS]. While the hard drives were sharing information I introduced the format of LR and the importance of selecting names, tagging (hash-tagging!) as well as dating photo shoots. I started out by showing everyone my sorting method- I rating all of the ‘keeper' images as I filter through- discarding burry images and movement, blinks, as well as extreme under and over exposed images (oops!)

I try to remind myself daily: repetition is the father of learning- Noticing comments from the students about how difficult it seemed to pick between all the images. I was able to help everyone individually, to show some tricks I have learned and by pointing out the differences between why one photo is different or better than the other- each person was able to make a quicker choice! <3 Tying the ‘art' in to the fine-art of portraiture takes practice just like painting a sky in to a landscape. Whether you are using a paint brush or a pen tablet, it takes both practice and patience and then a little more practice to learn about your own artist : )

Dwindling through everyone's libraries, everyone had chosen their "top roll". I like to randomly tie traditional film photography back in to this digital world and I give most of my portrait clients my top 24-36 choices! (Rolls of film used to come with 24 or 36 exposures on them!) I was happy, because I could now have everyone choose a one file (it didn't have to be their FAVORITE) but it was time to practice enhancing a portrait. I taught the class my secret-sequence of editing a photo... going over exposure, cropping, white balance & which parts of the human face to enhance- the simplicity made us all giddy and I was excited to see that every photographer was happy! I went over differences of making a print file and sharing a file on the internet via Facebook or email- and shared my connection with traditional photography and how I am making my own tradition going by printing photo-books and making photo albums- there is nothing better than thumbing though a stack of prints back form the lab ; )

It was a successful day from shoot to print, and as I bid my new friends farewell, I encouraged them to keep editing their images they had shot and to send them back my way!

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