I watched this interview with Photographer Dan Winters today. It presents some really great insights to his approach. I really liked what he had to say about his approach to making photographs in terms of sensibility vs. a stylistic approach to making images. Check it and and let me know what you think.
I thought I would share the set up I used for this portrait I made of Brittany.
The location is a field on the beautiful Shining Mountain Herb Farm in Ridgway Colorado where Brittany has grown up.
There are three light sources. First is the soft overcast light of the sun diffused by a heavy cloud cover, the ambient light. I underexposed the ambient by 1 stop to darken the sky a bit adding a bit of drama. It also now serves as the fill light on Brittany.
Next, with the assistance of a voice activated light stand (Sheila, Brittany’s mother), I placed a SB800 strobe with a shoot through umbrella camera right at 45 degrees to Brittany serving as the key light. I adjusted it to 1/4 power giving me a proper exposure on her face.
The third light source is a second SB800 strobe snooted to confine it to a narrow beam at camera left and above Brittany’s head. This light provides a highlight on her hair and helps give separation defining her from the background scene. See the diagram below.
If you want a senior portrait that goes beyond the run of the run of the mill head shot, than you have come to the right place. Richard Durnan Photography offers senior portraits that are striking, incorporate elements tell the story of who you are, and allow your true essence to show through. There is no better way to create your likeness than with an environmental or location portrait. Get out of the studio and into your environment.
Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your Senior Portrait.
Become comfortable with your photographer. I meet with my subjects in advance when ever possible. A big part of my style of portraiture is working in a location that means something to you or portraying an activity that you are passionate about. An advanced meeting gives us the opportunity to plan in advance with great detail what we are going to do. Meeting me before we go out will also help to ensure that you will be more comfortable when we are shooting allowing for spontaneity and fun.
Get plenty of rest the night before your portrait session. If you have a late night, your eyes will show it.
Personalize your photos with props. If you’re favorite sport skiing and that is what you want your photo to say about you bring your skis. If you are an amazing musician bring your instrument. You can even bring a favorite portable piece of furniture. I want your photo to be totally about you.
Go with practiced hair styles. Don’t try a new hairstyle. Avoid experimental hairstyles. In general, friends and family prefer to remember you as you looked most of your senior year, not just during the period when you had your pictures taken. In general, your senior portrait is not the time to leave your hair uncombed for that “natural” look. Guys, let a new hair cut grow out for at least a week before your pictures, allowing time for any white tan lines to disappear. Unless you wear a beard all the time, take the time to get a close shave.
Have your clothes and accessories ready the night before your shoot. Choose clothes that reflect your style or the activity and setting in which we will be working. Make sure they are clean and free of wrinkles. I encourage bringing several outfit changes. We will work with as many as time permits giving you variety to choose from. For each outfit remember to bring your accessories from footwear to jewelry and hair accents. Put your accessories in a zip lock bag and attach it to the hanger with that outfit.
Bring a variety of color; don’t bring all blue outfits even if it is your favorite color. Solid colors are recommended for most or all outfits. Avoid clothing that has wording on it except possibly your school logo. You want your face, eyes and expression to command attention, not the words on your shirt. Change up the style, all one look (like tanks) gets boring.
Vary the dress level. Bring some dressy, some medium, and some casual. Plan all your outfits completely because we will take photos that are close-up, full length, and in between. Also remember, it is best to do one or two outfits that mom will like, and then we can do the stuff you like. Do not wait until the last minute. All too often I get calls the week before year book photos are due. It may be hard to schedule a shoot. Is a wintery photo what you want? Around here, there is usually snow on the ground in December. If you want winter and skiing like Sam did great. But if you really want a summer looking shot you need to get it before the snow flies.
It’s back to school time, and if you are or have a senior, it is also senior portrait time. I just created my first senior portrait of the season last evening. Brittany wanted to have her senior portrait made on her family farm. She wisely chose to do it now rather than waiting until the last minute.
I specialize in location portraiture and I always meet with a senior before we actually go out to shoot. I like to get to know my subject before we are on location. It gives me a chance to learn who they are and help them come up with some creative ideas for what we are going to do and where we will go. It also allows the senior to get to know me so they are comfortable and natural while we a shooting.
I like to create images that are different from the traditional senior portrait that you might get from a Wall Mart studio. I like to make an image that says something about who the senior is and includes locations or elements that help to capture their essence and say something about what they are interested in. For Brittany, it was about the farm where she grew up.
The weather was a bit touch and go. It was super windy, very hazy from the current California wild fires, and overcast. Brittany’s parents were concerned that we should re-schedule the shoot. We looked around at the locations Brittany had in mind, and after seeing them I suggested we go ahead and shoot anyway. The soft diffused quality of light is actually great for portraits, and the stormy sky would add a dramatic quality to the portraits.
In the end I think we created a fantastic set of images for her to choose from. By choosing to have her portrait made now she was able to take advantage of the beautiful location of her farm while it is green and not buried in snow.