From the selfie to the professional headshot, the interest in portrait photography has grown immensely in the digital era. What is considered a successful portrait? What sets it apart from the average snapshot or selfie? What type of post-processing can be done to enhance the image further?
DeAnna Roberts and I met with a group of eager students on Saturday to address these questions. We first started with an in-class review of the basics: exposure triangle, composition, lens choice, etc. and then headed outside to get some hands-on practice. There was not a single cloud in the sky, which meant we had to deal with some pretty harsh sunlight. Before even taking pictures, DeAnna and I worked on positioning our model in relation to the sun. We had the students analyze the light in each position, and everyone came to the conclusion that any direct sunlight on the face was not flattering.
Next, we threw the students into a new setting around the corner of the office building—a not so ideal area to photograph in. They had to come up with a solution to photograph our model with what they were given, and after a few tries, we got a successful shot. Again, it was first positioning with no direct sunlight on the face, then adjusting angles so that the background had no distractions, and finally, using that telephoto lens to compress the image and bring that background closer.
After working with both reflectors and diffusers, our two hours were up and we headed back to the studio to upload the images. When we came back from lunch, DeAnna and I did a run-through on Lightroom's interface, and then went straight into organizing and rating our photos. Once the students had their top images selected, we worked in Lightroom to enhance the shadows and highlights accordingly as well as color correcting our photos—all while reiterating the importance of capturing the image right in camera first.
We can't stress enough how post-processing should make a good photo better, not make a bad photo decent.
After going over some techniques on selective editing in Lightroom such as softening skin, and removing distracting objects in the background with Photoshop, the students were ready to export their final images. It was truly satisfying as DeAnna and I walked around, seeing each students' final versions of their images—evidence of their growth in just a day.
Until next time,
Mary, DeAnna… 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.