Four Weeks to Become a Better Photographer (Part 2)

This photo was my favorite from the day; it was one where the elements worked in our favor. I love her expression, the wind in her hair, and the rays of sun coming through the fence. The sky is overexposed, but I think that works here and provides more of a blank backdrop. Here’s what Perello said, “ (This) is the best of the series, because of the perspective, the use of light and the sincerity of the emotion. It really comes across well. Be careful though about handling the camera and detectin

In August 2007, Assistant Editor Kathleen Davis participated in a four-week course with BetterPhoto.com. Click here to see what she learned that month.  For a refresher on how the classes work, click here.

For the next four weeks, I'll be taking the class Posing and Portraiture Techniques taught by Ibarionex R. Perell. Although I know a lot of the typical tips for posing and portraiture, I haven't had much opportunity to put them into practice.  The first week's lesson was on posing, and while the advice seemed rather simple, I encountered a few challenges out in the real world.

Lesson One: Posing

For this first lesson, Perello offered advice on making your subject comfortable and working with them as collaboration. He said, “They are not just rag doll whose limbs need to be manipulated and configured into position, but a person who is willing to work with you. You may be the one behind the camera, but you are not alone in making something worthwhile happen.”

He went on to give advice for avoiding unnatural posed looking portraits, suggesting having your subject lean against something to help relax their posture, and moving around them rather than asking them to change their position.

I was lucky to have my friend Joan agree to be my model for the day. Although she’s naturally very photogenic and gave a lot of different expressions and movement to work with, the environment presented a few challenges. Rather than a nice diffused light, the sun was extremely bright and often shining directly into the spot where we were shooting, making getting and maintaining a proper exposure difficult. It was also a very windy day, a challenge for both model and photographer alike.

This photo was my favorite from the day; it was one where the elements worked in our favor. I love her expression, the wind in her hair, and the rays of sun coming through the fence. The sky is overexposed, but I think that works here and provides more of a blank backdrop.

Here’s what Perello said, “ (This) is the best of the series, because of the perspective, the use of light and the sincerity of the emotion. It really comes across well. Be careful though about handling the camera and detecting focus on the eyes. The image is a little soft where it should count most around the eyes. You don't want to weaken a good image, which something as easy to achieve as a sharp image.”

He’s right, with a bit sharper focus and maybe even a catch light in the eyes this photo would be even stronger.

More photos and critiques from this lesson after the jump.

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