Monday, 17 May 2010

Portrait workshop

I took part in a short portrait workshop today at a local photography studio Garage Studios. The tutor was Lou O'Bedlam and we had two models to take photos of. It was the first time I used Canon 50 mm f/1.4 lense, and the first time I took backlit portrait shots, which is something that Lou does a lot. Here are some of my shots.

It is interesting to see from these photos how a tiny change of angle can make a huge difference in the lighting and feel of the picture (obvious especially in the second and third photos). I will definitely start taking more portraits with natural light and not be afraid to shoot backlit portraits from now on.

Another thing that I got from this workshop is to try and capture something true about the person, rather than take just posed photos. To be honest, I often take photos "in between poses" when I do a portrait shoot for exactly that reason: to capture something spontaneous, something that often reveals a much more interesting side of the person, something which is more true to their nature. My favourite shots from a studio shoot often end up being the out-takes, "between poses" shots where I have captured a genuine laughter or other moment where the person is just themselves, unaware of the camera.

Also, I think Lou O'Bedlam has inspired me to engage even more with my portrait subjects than before. It's important to slow down, look, SEE, pay attention to the lines, shapes, colours in the background so that they work with the image rather than against it. And then, of course, go ahead and take the completely spontaneous, perfect shot. Haha. Easy, right?

Actually, I'll add a mistake photo here at the end: the following will illustrate why f/1.4 gives too shallow a DOF for taking other than straight-on portraits - if the face is even in a slight angle in relation to the camera, only one eye will be in focus in the shot. This is acceptable at times, of course, but you should make sure that the eye NEAREST to the camera is in focus, not the other one, like I had in this shot.

Who could resist that smile, though, eh? The correct eye in focus or not.


Arty "Fucking" Smokes said...

These are great shots, but then the models are wonderful too! I'm hoping to meet Lou this weekend. Hopefully he can inspire me as much as he inspired you. Nice work!

Wayne Upchurch said...

Katariina, here's an excerpt from an email sent out to his mailing list by a wonderful "teacher" of photography, Sean Kernan:

Lenswork Magazine has an interview I did with Brooks Jensen in the current issue. It is about the Kampala boxers, Art, Life, and why I shoot right into the light. (Why was Brooks surprised? Doesn’t everyone?) You can catch a preview of the piece here:
The full interview, a portfolio, and a video are on the Lenswork Extended PDF that is available from the magazine.

You already Obviously are quite cozy with light, Katariina, but this step for you appears to be a leap toward mastering it (by sincere appreciation -the Best way)
One of your gifts when you blog is your authentic enthusiasm for "being a photographer" as you put it, in an earlier post, and your authentic "passing that along".
I say this without taking anything away from the Very Fine images that you make, in the process.

Katariina Järvinen said...

Wayne, as always, thank you so much for your support and encouragement! Wonderful photos in that short preview of the interview. OOoh, and what treats in Sean Kernan's web site... I'm going back for more! And will go and experiment more with light. Thank you!

silicon beach said...


Just seen your post. I wrote a post on the same subject today and it's similar in someways, some of the same advice resonated with us both: