I had an opportunity this past weekend to take some portrait photos for a friend of mine, and since I so rarely find anyone willing to actually spend an hour posing for me, of course I jumped at the opportunity to work on my technique. Given the fact that we had plans to watch the OSU-USC game, I got the brilliant idea to do some outside shooting (I don’t have lighting equipment as of yet, outdoors generally works better) late in the day to take advantage of the dramatic coloring you get as the sun goes down.
At least, that was my idea going in. What I learned, however, is that the reality of shooting a person at that time of day is actually quite challenging. Yes, you can do some nice things with the light, but you also have to really plan around the light much more. If you have the person you’re shooting looking toward the light, you might have them squinting, if they look away, there are lots of shadows. It can be a challenge to get photos that really get the light exactly where you want it.
As I looked through the photos in the last couple of days, I realize just how much that challenge was distracting me from other details that I would normally pay more attention to. For example, I can see now that there were some poses that she wasn’t very comfortable with, it’s in the body language of the photos, but I didn’t really notice it at the time. I was preoccupied with the sun! Or there are a couple where there are distracting items in the background, again, I was so focused on the shadows, I missed those.
Alas, all of these challenges were overcome because of the first rule of any photography that I do, shoot a lot! So while there were some photos that didn’t really turn out the way I liked because I have plenty to choose from, my friend will still be getting a group of photos that I think are really good. Hopefully she will too and maybe she’ll even let me come back here and post one with this post after she sees them. 🙂
So, the lessons learned? Don’t let one challenge force you to lose focus. Keep all of the details in mind as you shoot, and shoot as much as you can, so you have plenty to choose from as you experiment and learn more about taking photos you love.
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