New Zealand D-Photo
ON THE DAY
With creative portraiture, I believe that we need to get the subject to ‘become’ the character we are trying to create. I see the models I work with as actors and actresses and spend time getting them into character; I become a storyteller.
You are trying to convince the viewer that the lie is real. An important part of making it real is the connection between the photographer and the subject in the image.
While the model gets changed and the make-up and hair are being done, I check the lighting. Set up the lights — if using artificial — and make sure they are all working as you want them to. I usually spend the first 10 to 15 minutes with the model, capturing images mostly as test shots. I find that this allows us to relax, to get over any initial nervousness and see that we are both working towards the same goal.
I then start to create the look I want. If I am using artificial light, I will start with one light and build from there. If using natural light, I might use a reflector or two to move the light to where it needs to be — this is when another set of hands can be helpful. Regardless of the lighting set-up, add a little as you go and check the image in the back of your camera, often. When doing a creative portrait shoot, I use a tripod, as I want to get the sharpest image possible. I check my histogram to ensure that I have the information in the capture that I need for the digital darkroom. I check sharpness to make sure the scene is sharp where it needs to be, as well as perspectives: if this image is part of a composite, will the angles be correct; is there anything in the scene I don’t want? Then I start to look at finessing the image. Fixing what you can here saves time and effort in post-processing. Take your time. Show the model your pictures as you go; they may have some good feedback. Remember to be encouraging.
Most important: have fun. If you and the model are relaxed and having fun, it will come through in the images.