New Zealand D-Photo


Photograph­er Scott Fowler walks us through his process for making beautiful creative portraits, from concept through to capture


Your vision for creative portraitur­e is unique. The look you want in your portraits, the depth of the shadows, and the amount or type of lighting you use are all your choice. Have confidence in your ideas, your vision, and remember it takes time and practice to achieve the look you want. It’s taken me many years of practice to achieve what I create, what I capture. As photograph­ers, we put ourselves, our ideas, and even our assumption­s into our work. We interpret and create what we’re thinking. At first glance, we imagine that great portraitur­e captures the very soul of the person being photograph­ed, when actually, in truth, it is more about the soul of the photograph­er. You, not the subject, decide the moment to press the shutter, and at that moment, that decision is cemented. The more you understand about how lenses and sensors behave, how light works, and the digital darkroom, the more you will be capable of creating wonderful portraits.

Creative portraitur­e knows no bounds. The lighting you use, depth of field, lens, outfit, location, make-up, plus much more, all play a part. And let’s not forget the finishing of the image in the digital darkroom: is the image going to be part of a composite; have you thought about lighting issues, perspectiv­es, placement of the subject in the background; is it a stand-alone image or perhaps an environmen­tal portrait? When I am considerin­g a creative portrait, I go through a list of options. I write my ideas — my vision — down. This is called ‘storyboard­ing’. Write down all the elements that will be important for the success of the portrait; what is the vision I want to create? What is the subject of the portrait; hair length and colour, body shape and height? What location will I use; what lighting, lenses, clothing, make-up and hair; what time of day — especially if using natural light; will I need help? Write down as many of the different elements as you can think of for your idea to be successful. Creativity takes courage, limited only by your imaginatio­n and skill level. Fill a bag with clothes that might work in a location, find a model, then see what happens. I do this with a new model to get to know them, to see how they work, what kind of looks I can get, and to try new ideas. Practise and just play.

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