A Quick Guide To Portraits

Aqua and Kabe, originally uploaded by foolscircle.

Photo Details:
Camera: Nikon D100
F-Stop: f/5.6
Focal Length: 38 mm
Exposure Bias: 0.00
Shutter Speed: 1/90
ISO: 200

Can we be honest? For just one second? OK, here goes: I generally hate taking portraits. It’s because I’m simply not a people person.


I swear.

It isn’t because people will often assume they know more about lighting and poses and start trying to take over the photo shoot. Surprisingly, this rarely occurs when I’m taking head shots; I largely suspect it’s due to theatre people being terrified that I’ll become vindictive and make them look fat. Some of the most problematic shoots can be high school portraits, during which parents can sometimes get more than a little bossy and start telling you exactly how everything needs to go. I’ve generally come up with a solution in the form of a verbal contract explaining how it works: you provide your kid’s wardrobe and chose the location of the shoot (because you have a general idea of how you want the pictures to look), I take the photos and arrange where/how the kid will pose (because I have a general idea of how photography, y’know, works). You’d be amazed at how easy portrait shoots can go, provided you’ve laid down some ground rules.

My favorite portraits are usually those that my friends ask me to take, partially because everything’s so laid back during those sessions and partially because they trust me to make them look good. The nice thing about shooting pictures of friends is that I know what they’re like, which means I can generally find an environment that is as comfortable and fun for them to pose in as it is for me to shoot in. If you have a chance, hang out with your subject for an hour or so and just get to know them a little better. Oftentimes, this will make them a little more comfortable with you as both a person and a photographer; this will generally make for a much more rewarding photo shoot. For this example, we’re going to use my friends Aqua and Kabe as models.

Essentially, Aqua (the guy) wanted to get a portrait of he and his girlfriend in their new leather jackets. I liked the lines on the jackets, so I decided to pose them somewhere where there were other horizontal that would enhance the linear visual without overpowering it.

*Side note*
Don’t choose a location more interesting than your subject. It never works out.

Both Aqua’s and Kabe’s outfits contrasted nicely with the brick and glass background. For the most part, I just sauntered around them and took pictures of them being cute and holding each other. Kabe was feeling kind of self-concious, I guess, and wouldn’t look directly at the camera, so I played it up by having her look at Aqua instead.

After approximately 20 minutes of subjecting them to my lens’s scrutiny, I managed to capture this moment and fell in love with it. I cropped it down so it had a tighter, more polished feel, and the end result was the image at the top.

Explore posts in the same categories: Photography, portraits, walla walla, washington, whitman college

2 Comments on “A Quick Guide To Portraits”

  1. mostlyme Says:

    I love the intimacy of the shots. Nice lighting.

    PS. I’m not one for shooting people either. See my post on the subject: through the looking glass

  2. Erin Lousignont Says:

    incredibly photos mike! you may not like shooting people (with a camera) but you sure are talented!

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