New location, same amazing Natural Light Portrait Photography class...
I had the pleasure of teaching four amazing students the ins and outs of natural light at Aperture Academy’s new portrait photography location. The energy and excitement when it comes to photographing portraits was still present. It is one of my favorite aspects of portrait photography—no matter where you are, you can always get some amazing images through light, interaction and engagement. That’s what we focused on when we photographed our model, Andon.
After an indoor sessions where we reviewed the exposure triangle, different types of lenses, and composition, we ventured out to photograph Andon. It was late afternoon, a perfect time to see how direct sunlight can affect a subject. When we positioned Andon with the sun in front of him, he had trouble keeping his eyes open. We quickly pivoted to side lighting. Immediately, Andon’s expression relaxed, but half his face was covered with a deep shadow. Finally, we positioned the sun behind him. With just a slight tweak of exposure compensation, we were able to photograph Andon with soft even lighting. So from then on, we made sure that soft lighting was a must before photographing.
We moved on to posing and positioning next. A telephoto lens can help greatly when photographing in an unknown environment as it compresses the distance between subject and background. Suddenly a small bush or tree can act as the entire background of a portrait. For students who did not bring a telephoto lens, they photographed with the biggest aperture possible and separated Andon from the background to get the bokeh.
Coupled with some tips on relaxing the subject, such as having Andon shift his weight or sit, the students were ready with all the tools to take a great portrait: light, background, positioning, and composition. I tagged Andon out when we were ready to practice some headshots, showing them little tricks like dipping the front shoulder and turtling out the head so the light can wrap around the jawline.
We decided to end with some moving pictures. After switching our focus mode to AI Servo or AF-C (Canon and Nikon respectively), we had Andon walk toward us and practiced keeping the focus point on him. I made it a little harder the second time around by having him run and cut unexpectedly, but the students did great adjusting. Before I knew it, the three hours were up, and I bid the students farewell, knowing this energetic group will continue practicing on their own.
Until next time,
Mary and the rest of the Aperture Academy Team!
If you'd like to join us at one of our workshops, you can find the schedule/sign up here.