I shot Julia’s senior portraits in October, but I did a TERRIBLE job!! I got the opportunity to shoot her again last weekend.
For the first shoot I traveled to El Segundo and for some reason, I just didn’t feel comfortable or competent. As a result, the images produced were not good. They were out of focus and poorly composed and I wasn’t satisfied with them.
My biggest problem was posing. I had no idea how to communicate how I wanted her to pose, what would looked good, what would work in different situations. The images were technically correct in regards to exposure and such, but they sucked as far as the subject matter. Julia wasn’t the problem. I didn’t make her look good.
I spent the next few months learning how to pose subjects. I went to FEO meetings with Jen Disney and other photographers who taught me a lot. I watched Bambi Cantrell on CreativeLive. I went to WPPI and went to every posing workshop I could attend. In addition, I went online to photographers that I respected and looked through their sites for poses I liked and studied them for subtle hints and looks. Also, I learned about lighting. Hardly a posing workshop is presented where lighting is not talked about. I talked to Rob of Jessica Elizabeth Photography about lighting and how to best use it and learned a lot.
I examined the images and why they were out of focus. I was using my 50mm 1.4 lens which is tack sharp, but only under certain conditions. I learned that it doesn’t focus well in quickly changing situations. I watched what other photographers were using and a lot of them use a 70-200 2.8. So this time, that is what I used most of the time. The focus issue didn’t disappear, but it got better. A lot better.
Finally, I asked Julia if I could try shooting her again. This time we went to the Mission Inn in Riverside, CA. This time I felt confident and comfortable. I was able to spot good locations, good light, and was able to communicate how I wanted her to pose.
When the light wasn’t right, I was able to fill it in with a touch of flash. I tried some different things after I got “the” shot. Some worked and some didn’t, but I was comfortable and learned in the process.
So? What were the lessons learned?
One, I still have a focus issue. I can get landscapes and wildlife in focus, but have trouble with portraits. I think part of it is because I rush my shots. I think another part of it is my method of shooting, but I will experiment and elaborate more on that later. The important part of that is that I am still working on it.
Two, identify your weakness and work on it. I learned how to get out of my comfort zone and pose people. I learned how to identify light and modify it for the look I want. Am I great? NO! But I’m getting better.
Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.