Portrait photography has taken the world by storm. From travel photos to the selfie, taking a flattering portrait of a loved one is a skill that can be utilized in most situations. I was beyond excited to start our Natural Light Portrait workshops again at Aperture Academy. Not only do we focus on finding that awesome natural light, but we work with our students to perfect camera techniques that help bring out the beauty in everyone. On this sunny Sunday afternoon, we did just that. I met with three students, first refreshing them on the basics: the exposure triangle, photographing in aperture priority mode, composition tips, etc., and then heading out to practice the skills with our model, Jasmine.
The harsh sun proved to be a useful learning moment as we positioned Jasmine in multiple positions in relation to the sun. The students recognized that back-lighting was ideal for indirect soft light, but overexposed backgrounds can be an issue. A solution was to photograph the subject at an angle so that the background was also a shaded area. Sun flares may also occur in the image if the lens is not properly shaded, but once we knew the cause of the flares, it was easy enough to eliminate them.
This was a theme throughout the class, identifying problems and working on a solution— so we worked on positioning next. If a subject is uncomfortable and stiff, we can have them in a more relaxed pose. We had Jasmine sit down and shift her weight to give a more natural movement to the photograph. Photographing at a low angle also gave a more dramatic feel. For headshots, I demonstrated how to tighten a subject’s jawline—a technique that I always try to remember when I’m the subject of the photo. This way, the light wraps around the model's face and gives definition to their jaw.
We moved onto composition and framing next, using trees as natural leading lines as well a negative space to help draw the viewer’s eye to the subject. Working with the natural elements in the environment is one of my favorite tips when it comes to portrait photography. Even around an office building, those resources are there if you take the time to look. Eventually, I pulled out the reflector and demonstrated how to add a little fill light to the face and a catch light in the eyes, coupling it with what we learned prior on positioning Jasmine against a tree.
Lastly, we shifted our focus (pun intended) to capturing Jasmine on the move! The students adjusted the focus modes to AF-C or AI Servo to continuously focus on a subject—in this case, Jasmine walking toward us, trying to get that decisive moment down. Before I knew it, we took our group photo, strolled back to the studio, and the students were off to practice on their own. I have no doubt they will do me proud in their future portrait photography endeavors!
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.