Friday, December 9, 2011

Inside the Portrait Studio ~

We had another terrific lighting and posing workshop at our studio earlier this week, again hosted by my friend Jordan Sleeth from Advance Camera. With six students and five hours, we have plenty of time to cover a lot of ground and get tons of hands-on experience. Courtney Stevens was our model for the evening, and she was just great -- and incredibly patient!

Working in the studio has always been the most fascinating aspect of photography to me. It boils photography down to its essence: pure light. What I really love doing is have the students put down their cameras for a few minutes and just look.
We watch as light and shadow do a little dance on our model's face, and create such a range of texture and shape, motion and emotion, that the seemingly simple act of making a portrait becomes something much more creative and intimate. Ultimately it is this that I want to impart more than anything else.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Intimacy of a Portrait ~

I'm getting prepared to do a lighting workshop today at the studio, and this prompted me to reflect on the qualities we look for in a really fine portrait. What sets us apart from the garden-variety, ordinary, and every-day kind of photo? Did we nail the lighting? Are we building dynamic, interesting poses? It's all of this, but yet something more: we need to step over the barrier that exists between the photographer and the subject. We need to appreciate the inherent intimacy involved in creating the portrait, and that exploring this is what will allow the viewer to end up knowing more about that person than about the photographer. Simplicity and empathy are more effective tools than props and fast lenses to achieve something memorable; my goal is always to create the sort of image that through the years, people will always stop in their tracks to view it. I think this portrait that Whitney created recently is a wonderful example of that.

I took this portrait of my friend Monterey a few years ago, and have always loved the joy and spontaneity that she shares. These are what make a portrait truly timeless and beautiful, no matter who you are photographing or even what kind of camera equipment you have. Get close! Take your time! Listen, and observe. Every human on earth shines with a beauty that is there for you to find and reveal.

And share? 

If you'd like to see more images from Whitney's session, open this link to her blog: