Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Oh, The Sunlight in Your Hair!

There is something so simple and beautiful about the sun painting a radiant glow along the edge of flowing locks of hair. This is something that can be so beautifully captured as the sun begins to set. It is the perfect kiss of color of nature’s purest highlights that can turn an ordinary portrait into a brilliant result. You can literally watch the sun work it’s magic to breathe life into the frozen frame of a portrait.

This technique of hair lighting works with any color hair, but with lighter shades, it is often most striking. For these casual senior portraits, the location was the side of the road, yet you can see how the sun against the dark green palette illuminates, Kylie in her photos.

We later moved to a brighter location away from the trees to allow some brighter light to shine down. And for these shots, I really wanted to showcase her long beautiful hair so I asked her to turn away from the camera and tilt her head up. Then I asked her to bunch up her hair and play with it. These shots were a mix of dramatic and playful images...and ones that became our mutual favorites from the evening photo session.

Photo Tip: When you feel like you are running out of ideas and poses to try. Ask your model to touch or play with her hair. Since it is ultimately attached to the person, there becomes some type of emotional attachment that unveils itself before the camera. It also helps to loosen up their hands and get them more comfortable with posing. Depending upon their hairstyle, you might want to introduce a clip, a headband, a hat or some other prop. Try this out at your next shoot and share with me your results!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Impromptu Sessions - Just Grab Your Camera and Shoot

During our recent vacation in the Florida Keys an unexpected photo opportunity arose when we stopped off at a cute little oceanside park just past the 5 mile bridge. My daughter’s boyfriend starting climbing a tree, and soon after, she followed. With camera in hand, I snapped some photos of them climbing, sitting and posing for a few couples shots. We had to work around the wind, but I have to share with you this tree shot that is just priceless of the two of them. Here is the sepia-toned image followed by the color version. There are a few others, but I love how her hair was flowing in this amidst the backdrop of the twisty branches.

And here is the color version (below)

If you choose to do a similar tree shoot. Compose your shots to work with the branches rather than fighting them. Below, the widespread branches acted as a support for James in the background, while the larger trunk made a great ledge for Kylie to be seated in the foreground. Another perk of shooting from this angle is that you also get the beauty of the blue sky peeking through the branches.

Seated and smiling, they look very happy and relaxed sitting in the tree. Be sure when shooting from below to utilize a zoom lens to enable you to get close to the couple, and be mindful of their clothing and positioning of their legs so the shots aren't overly revealing or awkward.

Also pay attention to how the light is falling to avoid harsh shadows or harsh patches of sunlight across faces. Unfortunately, I did not have my flash along with me to use a fill flash, however, I think we still managed to pull off some great images considering these were mid day shots, not the ideal time for lighting.

Getting a very natural portrait of a guy, especially a teen male, can be challenging since they aren't typically as into having their photos taken as girls their age. That is why I seized the moment to take some quick portraits of James, having fun and looking very relaxed.

On the ground, the wind proved to be a big challenge (part of the reason we started exploring other areas and shooting by the trees). I did manage to snap this solo beachside shot of Kylie by the tree post.

The lesson learned from this impromptu photo shoot is that when your subjects feel relaxed and in their element, it will show in the portrait session. With family, or even clients, you can stage and pre-plan portrait sessions, but sometimes you have to just throw caution to the wind and work with great opportunities as well as nature’s wonderful props. Forget that they may not have on the perfect outfits or makeup, and just roll with the real life experience. You may be surprised with some of the best, most natural portrait sessions yet! Happy Snappin'!