For anyone who has followed my blog you will notice that portrait photography is not a regular part of my portfolio.  In fact I generally avoid it at all costs.  Nature, landscapes, still life, architecture; these are the subjects I prefer by far.  But I also realize I should expand my repertoire and go beyond my comfort zone from time to time.  So I have dabbled in photographing humans now and then.

For me, there are two major challenges with portrait photography:

  • Posing – Giving a person directions on how to pose is not an easy task.  It helps when your subject is an adult who can move and adjust themselves with the camera pretty much on their own.  But throw a child into the mix and it becomes a whole other ballgame.
  • Lighting – This one is harder than the posing.  Lighting is very tricky and will make or break an image.  I am far from mastering this yet and have some reading and practicing to do.

With a recent portrait session I was inspired by a photographer I ran across on the internet (hopefully imitation is flattery).  The portrait photography of Jason Lee is definitely outside of the box and very creative.  I also threw a few of the “traditional” in as well.

I am my own worse critic.  I can pick the above portrait apart for all kinds of reasons.  But my biggest take away from it is that I have to master lighting.  I think I have his face lit pretty well.  The background however is too shadowy and gray.  I need to balance the subject’s face and the backdrop lighting.  This was taken against a white seamless backdrop and I would have liked it to be more white.

This is a perfect example of how difficult posing your subject can be.  Sometime they are just not willing to cooperate.  That is where the portrait photographer needs patience.  You need patience in all photography of course, but when you have the human element it is a whole different thing.

You Can Have Your Cake and Eat it Too

This is where I think portrait photography can get much more fun.  It does not, and I think I can go so far as to say, should not, always be the same old strip mall portrait studio photograph.  Give a baby a giant cupcake and just see what comes of it!

Bath Time

What do you do with a kid covered in green frosting?  Give them a bath of course.  This is the photograph that was inspired by Jason Lee’s work.

I am going to keep practicing portrait photography even though I do not foresee it becoming the main focus of my photographic portfolio.  But I think it is a good skill to have under my belt and something that will undoubtedly be useful.

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