Yesterday I went to take some photos of a friend. I’m like to experiment with my friends as guinea pigs and try to learn how to take good portraits. Before going to the photo shoot I read some blogs about how to pose female subjects and some tips to improve portraits, I think they were useful because I remember some of the basic poses and play around with my friend with different lenses and poses.
The photo session was done in a park around 7 pm, the sun was not really down but it was and ok light at the shadow and from time to time getting some sun in the picture. In Finland the nights are so late that if you want to get a golden hour photo you have to go around 10 pm to take your pictures.
We took some pictures in different locations of the park trying to be careful with what was in the background and how the light was showing in her face. I never experimented so much with different angles and how the light makes the skin look great in one side and totally awful in another, it really makes a difference. Also I played around with different lenses, from 10mm to 100mm (or more), each lens has its own power, but the best for portraits was for sure over 70mm, that was when the model was looking her best.
The most difficult part of the photo session, was not taking the pictures (I think in general that is never the problem…) but directing and getting the ideas of what I wanted out of my head. Luckily my model was really great and she knew what to do, but still giving directions its hard. Know I know what I should practice. Its so hard to find a middle point where you are not being bossy but at the same time your idea is getting to the other people, and also you are not stressing the subject. As you start giving direction the subject always gets nervous and then the picture became awkward.
At the beginning of the shoot is the most difficult part, when setting the mood and breaking the ice. Making the model feel relaxed and comfortable in front of a huge lens. For that first I think that shooting with a long lens makes it better, being far from the subject, giving he/she space to move and almost forgetting that there is a paparazzi with a camera behind a bush. Also the model being my friend made things much easier, I started talking to her about random stuff and making jokes and helping her to relax. The key is to be a people person (or what ever is the expression ), and being able to keep entertaining your subject and making feel comfortable, while you are trying to set your camera to get the best shoot and try to think what to do next its quite an skill.
I think at the end the photo session went great and I got quite some good pictures.