5 Steps to Creating a Powerful Portrait
When I take a portrait, I typically follow a specific set of steps. Many photographers will first look for a nice location and then decide to photograph their subject there. The problem with that is you may have a beautiful environment but the lighting is very flat or even bad. That’s why I will always first look around me to see where the best quality of light is located and that’s where I’ll bring my subject. I’ve trained myself to always look for pockets of light everywhere I go—even if I’m not photographing at the moment. I’m drawn to strong directions of light no matter where it’s coming from. For example, the lighting could be from the sun, window light, flash, or a continuous LED light, such as the Ice Light. It’s important that you not only look for a direction of light but that you also see opportunities to subtract light in order to create drama and dimension in your images. My goal is always to create beautiful portraits in camera instead of relying on Photoshop.
Whenever I take a portrait, whether it’s on a wedding day or during a portrait session, I follow a very specific set of steps each time before I take the photo. These are my 5 steps to creating a powerful image:
First you must find the light. Unfortunately, most inexperienced photographers will choose the beauty of location first before choosing a scene that is beautifully lit.
Once I have found the right light, I then choose my location or background. I allow the background to help steer me in a direction that I will take for the action in the photograph.
This is when I create a concept for my subjects. I loosely pose my subject in a way that takes advantage of the lighting and location that I have already found. My style of photography is often described as posed but natural. I do this by directing my couples into an action. I pose them first and then direct them in a way to get them to do something, such as whispering in each other’s ear or going for a kiss so that their personality comes out in each portrait.
Before finalizing my pose, I get my technique right. That means determining the ISO, aperture, and shutter speed based on the situation I am in. I always shoot in manual so I have complete control over my exposure and so I can get it all right in camera.
This is one of the most important steps in order to make a portrait look natural. As I mentioned in Step 3, I will pose a couple but just before I take the photo, I will always direct them in a way to evoke a romantic moment or say something funny to make them laugh.
Join Jerry Ghionis at PhotoPlus Expo for his seminar on “Luxurious Light” on Saturday, October 24, 2015 from 10:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. In this Wedding & Events track event, he will discuss his portrait lighting techniques in greater depth and share some of his latest images to further inspire your work!
Jerry Ghionis has received many accolades for his wedding and portrait photography and is considered to be one of the five best wedding photographers worldwide. He has received distinguished awards from American Photo magazine, WPPI, AIPP (Australian Institute of Professional Photography), PPA (Professional Photographers of America), and PDN magazine. With studios in Melbourne, Australia, and Beverly Hills, California, Jerry also travels internationally for assignments and speaking engagements. His creativity and empathy combine to create powerful imagery.
To learn more about Jerry and see more of his work, please visit: www.jerryghionis.com