Portrait photography is a skill that the majority of the general public practices everyday. From the selfie to the family Christmas photo, we all strive to document our lives through a camera. Here at Aperture Academy, on a beautiful Sunday morning, I met with two eager groups to further develop that skill by understanding the importance of utilizing natural light.
Both groups started off with introductions, and there was a diverse motivation for taking the course—ranging from taking great photos of their children, to refining their skills and possibly taking the next step in their photography careers. I knew right away the day was going to be filled with energy. We started off inside the classroom with a simple PowerPoint to cover the agenda of the day—how to find great light, how to pose the models, how to find simple backgrounds, etc. It was also a great way to review the basics—exposure, importance of aperture, and focus. And after that, we all ventured outside for some hands-on practice.
The morning class was blessed with nice, fluffy clouds acting as perfect diffusers for the sun. The lighting was magically soft and we spent our time looking for ways to make the office background interesting. We practiced using telephoto lenses to pull interesting backgrounds closer, and how to maximum time to get a variety of shots using different angles. Everyone got some gorgeous results!
The afternoon class may not have been blessed with the superb overcast lighting, but they were lucky to experience the true struggle a photographer might face on a sunny day. We talked about sacrifice—how a pretty background won’t be appreciated if the light is falling on the model’s face in an unattractive way. Focusing on eliminating shadows on the model’s face was essential in the harsh lighting conditions, and we tried a couple techniques: backlighting, looking for shade, and using a reflector.
Then, it was just optimizing time by shooting as much as possible while I helped with composition and settings. After a while, everyone seemed much more comfortable using their camera and we worked our way up to adjusting settings and focusing for moving subjects. We had the models walk and twirl and worked on getting a nice crisp image, all the while still paying attention to composition, light, and background. We got some amazing results, and I am confident those energetic children that these parents are trying to capture won’t come out blurry in a photograph after today!
Before we knew it, it was time to wrap up for the day. We ended with a fun group shot and just like that, the students were on their way home—hopefully to continue independent practice of today's lesson.
Until next time…from 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.