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.