Last Friday I did another photoshoot. It had been a while but it was worth the wait.
Gabrielle and Sébastien are a lovely young couple. Since I had done a shooting for her sister earlier this spring, she absolutely wanted me to do one of her and her boyfriend.
For my first shoot, I had setup my backdrop in the kitchen. Prior to the second shoot, I had measured my living room and found out that I had an extra 12 to 18 inches there. It did work out better than the kitchen.
I thought that I could improve on the living room idea by laying my background diagonally in my living room to have even more depth, but then the couch was in the way so I had to abandon that idea. So I was back to settings number two.
My objective in the change of settings was to distance my subject from the white paper backdrop in order to avoid some of the shadows that I had in the second shoot.
It actually turned out great and I think it is because I did not use my 50mm this time. But I must admit that this was unintentional – sort of.
You see, I had just purchased my new “toy”, the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8. An awesome lens. Sharp across the range. It sure will become my main lens going forward.
The point here is that that wider 24mm was perfect to capture the two of them together and it also allowed me to distance them from the backdrop, thus reducing unwanted shadows from the speedlights.
I did get rid of most shadows, but not on all shots as with this one.
My main flash, the Nikon SB-900, is located five feet left of my subject while my second flash, a dirt cheap Sigma EF-610 DG, is to the right about 7-8 feet away. Both are on TTL and I have set-up my Nikon D90 to -1 FEV compensation.
Maybe I should use a third flash to blast my backdrop. Food for thought. Learning opportunities.
This shot is a great moment, well captured, but it could have used more lights in the background.
As with my first photoshoot, I took a number of shots from a raised position from a small stool or a chair. I like the perspective that it creates.
For the first time, I took some low angle shots. Normally there is a risk of showing a double chin, but with these young people, this was almost a non existent one! It turns out this angle can produce some great effects like this shot where the couple is looking on to a bright future.
Another thing that I wanted to try was to shoot “half portraits”. I am sure that there is a more official word for this kind of shot, but for the time being, I kind of like the expression I just coined. The idea is to frame half of the person’s face, more or less, as in here with Sébastien. The very low depth of field (f/2.8) adds to the “in your face” look.
Two things that I have learned from shooting portraits are: get to know your subject and learn to listen.
The “get to know your subject” part was partly a given considering that I know Gabrielle since she was a young girl eating in her baby chair! Then again, I still needed to make contact with her as an adult. I did not know Sébastien. Although he is somewhat of a reserved person, he quickly warmed up to me, you see, we both like fast cars!
For the he “learn to listen” part, I was quite happy how it turned out.
When doing portraiture, I believe that you have to tell a story, the story of who the people you are shooting are. To do so, you need to capture them in a natural moment. However, being natural is not easy to do when the photographer asks you to take such or such a position that does not look natural but works great on camera. They are not professional mannequins and the photographer (me!) is not a professional set director neither.
Capturing the moment, is learning to “listen” to how they behave, how they pose when you ask them to stand or to sit. For example, here I asked Sébastien to sit down comfortably, almost slouchy. The picture I took “is” Sébastien, cool, composed, and looking at his girlfriend off camera and knowing that she loves him.
Another example, is how I captured the “give me an attitude” shot of Gabrielle. Taking the shot from below accentuated this and gave her an opportunity to dominate the camera. It is fun, simple and it is definitely her according to her parents to whom I presented the pictures the day after.
Their is also this attitude shot of Sébastien, the “rapper generation” (I know he is not a rapper, I am just too old to know how to otherwise call this look LOL).
If you have read my previous portrait blog posts, you know by now that I like to keep my best shots for last.
The first best of the best is this one with the scarf. Gabrielle had brought it not so much for the picture but simply because it was cold outside. I love the mysterious look this one gives: eerie and Arabic. Again, a good “listening” shot to capture a spontaneous moment.
This last one is almost perfect. Light glistening in her eyes, slightly off center framing, perfect skin, tight framing.
In the end, this photoshoot was not only my best one but it also was one that I really loved doing and that did not feel like it was work, but rather me playing my toys with two great subjects that were playing the game with me.
Merci Gabrielle et Sébastien, you were fantastic.