Here’s one of my clients who today became an unknowing portrait subject of mine. I received a really cool book for Christmas by Chris Orwig called “People Pictures: 30 Exercises for Creating Authentic Photographs“. The title of the book really spoke to me, and the cover of it screamed “BUY ME!” so I had to add it to the wish list 😉

I just started reading it this morning, and I was happy to see that the forward was written by one of my favorite photo authors David duChemin, who’s latest book, “Photographically Speaking: A Deeper Look at Creating Stronger Images” I’ve also received for Christmas and have been reading.

So the first exercise is to take a very quick portrait with minimal equipment. I was working with Bobby at his office replacing some computer equipment when I saw that the clouds had covered the sun at one point enough to get an environmental portrait outside in front of his doorway. This was the initial shot I made:


I framed him just outside of the entranceway to his office with his sign hanging overhead so that it looks almost like it was put there in post. He’s in the light and the background is in the shadow. The short-lived cloud acted as my light diffuser and I chose the slight angle to keep all of those elements together while avoiding as much of the reflections in the windows as possible. I positioned Bobby dead center to balance the sign in the shot. The shadows of the entranceway formed a natural vignette, although I did add a little more vignetting in post even it out on the bottom half of the frame. I shot this with a 35mm prime lens at f/1.8 & ISO 200. I was in Aperture Priority with a +1/3 EV and it chose 1/1250 of a second for the shutter speed. I shot a few frames to nail the composition and a few more to adjust the exposure, and got my shot within a minute. It was that easy, and that was the point – don’t worry about lenses, lights, or filters. Just grab the camera and take a simple portrait of a person without forcing it.

The problem is that once I get the bug, it’s hard to squish it. Inside, I shot a few more shots, including the one at the top of this post which I really ended up liking. He’s sitting between two windows, which made for really cool rim lights. I shot it in manual mode at f/1.8, 1/40th of a second, and ISO 200. I got in close to throw everything past his eyes into a slight blur. I also removed a few blemishes and smoothed the skin slightly in Photoshop (a backlit natural light portrait can be a little unforgiving on anyone over the age of 25) and that’s it. The book is really not about flattery though, it’s about connecting with people, which I believe was a successful attempt here.

There’s also a Flickr group based around the exorcises in the book, and so far there are some really talented photographers participating.

Similar Posts:

Share and Connect:



1 Comment

  • Pingback by Up All Night | JWNPhoto — January 8, 2012 @ 11:54 am

    […] it past the floor. Luckily, Lola was there to keep him company. I still had my camera setup from this post, so I cranked up the ISO to 1600 and got down on the floor to shoot this. I did play with the […]

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment