Saturday March 9th, was sunny and beautiful. Alicia and I had two Natural Light Portrait classes scheduled, so we were both excited to take advantage of this gorgeous weather and teach our excited students, some new skills in the art of natural light portraiture. These classes are quickly becoming one of our most popular, and for good reason. Once friends or family members find out that you have a camera, other then standard smart-phone camera, you quickly become the target of... oh please take out picture, or you have a nice camera, can you take photos at the family reunion this weekend?
Our class can ease a lot of tension that folks have about photographing people. At Aperture Academy, we make learning fun! Students not only leave our three hour session with the confidence to start taking those photos, be it of their kids, grandkids, friends, or pets, they also leave having had a great experience.
I get things rolling with introductions. Alicia and I listen carefully, as the students tell us about themselves. What kind of camera they've brought with them, they're experience with photography, and most importantly, what they want to learn during our 3 hour session. After introductions, I go over some basics including aperture and it's importance to photography, and specifically portrait photography. Alicia shows some examples of portraits she has taken around the Pruneyard shopping center, which would be our outdoor studio for the day.
The group gathers right outside the doors of the Aperture Academy, and our first shooting location was already upon us. Our two lovely models got into position, as Alicia and I assisted with the initial camera settings, including aperture selection and iso. One of the first lessons is removing unwanted background clutter and filling the frame with our beautiful model. As we move around the center Alicia and I are pointing out the many nice background options, that most would overlook. We are teaching our students to "see" the environment around them, differently. There are many softly colored walls, that make a lovely background, as well as vertical lines and architecture. Alicia demonstrates how just a slight shift in the photographers position, can make a huge difference in the end resulting image. Our students are capturing some fantastic images and are learning many new skills, so it was time to push the envelope a little. A poorly lite electrical room would be the next backdrop. What... and electrical room? Yes indeed, an electrical room. There are some pipes that create fantastic horizontal lines, as well as a grungy textured wall. Alicia switches the pupils into monochrome picture style, to eliminate the off putting hue of light created by the orange lights. Adjusting white balance helped a little, but the use of monochrome really made the images simple and effective. I had my model just outside the room, with a strong backlight situation. The sunlight was split by a decorative metal railing, so the best option was to take the cover off our reflector, to utilize it's diffusor functionality. By placing the diffusor behind Courtney, the light still came through, but now it was soft, even, and manageable. One more stop and some posing tips, and our class was drawing to a close. I set up my tripod, we could all gather around for a fun photo of our entire group. Another beautiful day of fun and learning was in the books!
Until next time, Ellie, Alicia, and the entire Aperture Academy Team!
If you'd like to join us at one of our workshops, you can find the schedule/sign up here.