Portrait Photography. With the advent and proliferation of digital cameras and the ease of their use, more people are taking pictures than ever before. And more people are interested in personally capturing their moments in a more professional way. It’s extremely cool to see the masses begin to pick up the digital medium and want to learn the ways to make their personal memories have the look of a professional photographer. But where to begin? There are many techniques to achieving those desired goals, and thousands upon thousands of ways to learn about them. Providing hands-on learning about portrait techniques is one way that the Aperture Academy can help those pursuits. Combining the skills of a day-to-day professional portrait shooter - Mary Cheung - and the master post-processing skills of an Adobe Certified expert - Scott Donschikowski - our Perfect Portraits & Processing workshop is without a doubt one of the best ways for newbies to get the experience necessary to take their skills further.
Our class begins with a presentation on basic photography skills. Mary and I cover all the basics you'd need for proper technique in the field of portrait photography with natural light. Aperture, shutter speed, ISO, composition, posing, and etiquette are just some of the topics we cover at the beginning of the class. We get everyone comfortable with their cameras and basic techniques, and then the class moves outside to the practical skills part.
Once outside, Mary and I take our class and model and begin teaching about proper posing and composition. The biggest speed bump to anyone’s career in portrait photography is choosing the right background in an area that otherwise doesn’t look very interesting. Many times while shooting on location, the photographer doesn’t have the luxury of shooting in a traditionally beautiful spot, like a fancy hotel or garden. It might be a business park or someplace that on the surface doesn’t have the look one is going for, but through proper posing, camera angles and focal lengths, you can make almost any location look like a million bucks. We spend time with our class posing our model around our very own modest business park, teaching about the best camera-model placement, and learning that zooming in and isolating can deceive the viewer into thinking that the photos didn’t, in fact come from a vanilla looking business park in North San Jose.
After an hour or so training our class in these techniques and throwing them curveballs to test their judgment and critical thinking, we step back inside our classroom to download our images for the next and final part of the days lesson; Post-Processing. While everyone’s images are downloading to the computers, we all take a well-deserved lunch break. Once finished, the real work begins with a quick lesson on organization. After that, we dive into the basics of using Lightroom to process the images from the morning’s session. The basic lesson is, that with most of the work done in camera (focus, exposure, composition, white balance, etc.) there really isn’t much to be done with finishing an image in its RAW state. We cover tonal changes, white balance tweaks, and further cropping, before moving on to more advanced topics, like teeth whitening and skin softening - both of which can be achieved VERY easily in Lightroom. Once everyone is comfortable with the interface and process in Lightroom, we begin the move into Photoshop for the final basic editing techniques. We show them how to do proper blemish removal, and for an extra treat, using the liquefy tool and puppet warp tool.
All in all the Perfect Portraits & Processing class is all about how to take proper portraits from start to finish!
Until next time,
Scott, 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.