How do you create your portraiture?
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How do you create your portraiture?
Albert Watson takes a very personal approach to portraiture, making sure to develop a strong relationship with his subject. In lesson 6 of his online masterclass, he shares his tips for preparing a portrait shoot, examples from his own career on he how to develop this relationship, and how to direct the subject.
Albert says that, as a photographer, "one of your best weapons of choice is your own personality." He suggests asking a subject to play a character or imagine a scenario in their mind, so that you can guide their emotions "towards what you want" for the image.
In Steve McCurry's online masterclass, he teaches a less crafted and more natural approach to his portraiture. In lesson 15 He says, “in portraiture, you never quite know when the best moment is going to reveal itself. There could be one instance where there's an expression, or a look, or a glance, or a hand gesture, and that'll be the picture. But you have to be ready.”
When making a portrait, he generally prefers to have his subjects looking straight into his lens. He says that "I want them to look directly back at me, to have this connection." For Steve, a great portraits is one that "reveals something about the individual you're photographing, or says something about humanity."
So, what is your approach to making great portraits? Do you have any methods and techniques for getting the most out of your subject? Please share your thoughts below.
Being a wheelchair use I find most studios very restrictive Im consecrating more on not knocking lights over and making sure I don't have wires wrapped round my wheels than on what Im shooting .
My way is more in a natural environment letting the subject go about their every day life (you could say it's more of a street portrait)with my camera ready I sit and watch my subject , watching every movement and jester they make .Unknowingly they will repeat the same jester or movement many times . so I have a good idea when to push the shutter button to get what I want . Over time Iv got better at predicting what a persons is going to do.
I know it so far away from studio portraits but it works for me .
I always approach my subject with a smile and a genuine reason as to why I stopped them to ask their permission to make their portrait. Usually the reason is something I saw in them that appealed to me or was unique. This could be something quite physically obvious like their hair colour or style, thier clothing or it could be a little more obscure like they way they arried themselves, whether that be from a lack of confidence or an abundance of ego, either way I have found them intriguing and curious.
Making the conversation all about them is critical as is explaining my intentions with the portrait. I try to convey to them the importance of how a portrait can celebrate and regognise who they are in this moment of their life.
On making the portait I usually guide them with where I would like them to stand and how to relax and just be themselves. Often this will yeild great results, but can also leave the introverts out on a limb wondering what “being yourself“ actually means. So being more direct about the look I'm after to bring out what I originally saw in them also works well.
The best part is taking that one shot that nails who they are through my eyes and seeing their reaction to the portrait. This alone makes the effort worthwhile.
I really love creating Portraits, especially of people I meet on the streets.
I am Feaf, I can’t hear a thing so lip reading, eye contact, focused interest in people is critical to my success as a portrait photographer.
The secret is genuine interest in others, “listening” through empathic intuitive understanding.
I feel it is important to ask the magic question “ May I create a photo of you“?
I rather hear the word NO, than not ask. I kick myself when I don’t ask - so asking has become a natural request.
Timing is important and sharing why I would like to create a photograph.
Creating a Portrait of a random stranger is a wonderful thing. It’s a way of acknowledging the life and existence of another. It’s a very generous and affirming gesture of humanity.
I always send a photo by email or create a print using the instax printer. This is lovely and it makes my subjects happy.
My favourite Lens for faces is the XF90mm F2 however, I use whatever I am shooting with that day. The XF35mm 1.4 and the XF60mm are two outstanding Lens for Portraits.
For a context driven images us the classic XF24mm 1.4 - this gives me the classic frame of 35mm. It allows a deeper narrative about my subject.
When I work with the portrait of a person, my main key is to find their secret behind in their life experience, it can be the sad moment or the happiest of their lives to catch the perfect emotion. But it's always important for me to have a moment with the person before the day of the shooting that I can have a good preparation before I work with them.
I'm 4 years of experience as a photographer and portrait is something I like the most.
I am not much interested in portraiture, and certainly not "celebrities". But I think a portrait by definition implies consent - it is something collaborative. So, you cannot take a portrait of a dog or a baby. I think trying to capture the essence of a person is misplaced - put a camera in front of a person and what you get is a persona - it is a performance. People say that Karsh captured the essence of Churchill in his famous portrait - the Bulldog British spirit - but he didn't, he captured a caricature of the man that the public were fed. The best you can hope to achieve is a likeness, and if you cannot recognize the person (in shadow etc) in the image without a caption, then it is no portrait. Spend time with the subject to get a more relaxed likeness, yes, but more than that? Not possible. Settle for an interesting likeness, nice gesture and expression, and good composition.
Hi Lorraine. My dictionary definition of portrait says it is about depicting humans. But I notice that some folks are stretching the definition to include pets. This seems to coincide with a trend to include animals as members of the family, give them birthday parties, take their picture in a studio, and generally confer on these denaturalised neutered creatures various anthropomorphic characteristics. A portrait is about giving consent to be photographed and involves interchange and negotiation. Whatever you can get a dog to consent to do in front of a camera, you can never get it to consent to being photographed.
I agree with you that taking someone's picture on the street without permission can produce excellent results; this is because they are not projecting a persona and you are capturing a real, unrehearsed, unmediated moment. But what you are getting is not a portrait. I am all for variety but that does not mean we should define things however we like - communication and understanding breaks down if words don't mean the same.
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