Foundations: The Rule of Thirds

The Rule of Thirds provides a guide as to the most impactful place within the frame to place key elements. Imagine two horizontal lines that split the image into thirds, crossed by two vertical, equidistant lines that split the image into thirds the other way. Placing an image component along with one of these lines or – even more powerfully – on one of the four intersections where the lines meet – contributes to a strong composition. … To get …

Flattering Faces: Broad and Narrow Lighting

Different face shapes benefit from different lighting patterns. Read on to find out how to slim down a wide face or fill out a narrow one by changing just small thing – the angle of your subject’s nose relative to your main light. According to the people who measure these things, there are seven basic face shapes: oval, round, square, diamond, heart, pear and oblong. For our purposes, however, we’ll use a shape sorter with just two categories. The first …

Telling Stories with Composition

Shooting families with young children? Accompanying everyone on a walk allows you to capture relaxed shots like this one, with everyone being themselves and interacting naturally. It also means you are likely to end up getting muddy… Twiggy, mud-splattered clothing is now an expected part of my appearance after an outdoor shoot. I spend a high proportion of my working day lying on my stomach, trying to get the lowest angle possible. In a portrait like this one, a low …

Available Light

Many professional portrait photographers work exclusively with available light. This can include both natural light and artificial light (that’s already in the location) or a combination of the two. When using available light, your challenge is to work with or modify the light that’s already in the scene in order to achieve your desired result.

Foundations

Foundations Your technical knowledge and skills empower you to take creative control. Understanding the nature of light enables you to manipulate it. Learning about the exposure triangle teaches you the limitations and compromises of digital photography. And the ability to shoot in manual mode means that you are making the decisions for your portrait photography, not your camera’s algorithm. Build your knowledge here in the Foundations section, then go get inspired by the tips, techniques and ideas across the rest …

High Key Striplight Portrait

Can you shoot a pale subject on a pale background? Yes, you can, if you control your lights. Here’s how I used strip lights for this studio portrait of Lizzie. A fair-skinned subject in a white top on a white background? Common portrait wisdom states that it shouldn’t be done, but I disagree. White-on-white fails when you throw uncontrolled light all over the scene, losing shadow, definition and detail. Instead, control your lights and your exposure carefully for a high …

Windowlit Groom’s Portrait at Le Manoir

We had just a couple of minutes to capture this portrait. To achieve it, I needed to consider the various light sources in the room, and pose this groom so he looked as relaxed as possible. To me, Eddie looks a little like George Clooney, and once I had that in mind it was hard to forget! This was taken on the morning of Eddie’s wedding, in the bar of Le Manoir. The light in there is really interesting as …

Topshade & Frames Within Frames

You can find top shade and framing devices in most natural and urban environments. These give your portraits great lighting and a stronger composition. This portrait of Bryony was taken in the outdoor area that backs on to our studio; part of international architect Peter Aldington’s Turn End Gardens. I am incredibly lucky to have such easy access to a varied choice of spaces, but no matter where you’re shooting, you can almost always find top shade and framing devices …

Super-Simple Daylight Portrait

You don’t need studio flash to achieve a clean, simple portrait with great lighting. This was taken outdoors at the end of the shoot, and is ridiculously easy once you know the trick. I had nearly finished a family shoot and wanted to get a simple portrait of each member of the family. I asked Willow to sit on the curb at the road side so her face tilted slightly towards me as she looked up towards the camera. This meant …

Soft Portraits In Hard Sun

Sunny days are a mixed blessing: lots of light but it can be harsh & unflattering. Here’s how you can use an unlikely reflector to shoot into the sun instead.   Sometimes parents pick a name for their child that fits better than they could ever have hoped. This is Iris, and wow – she has the most incredible eyes. How best to capture them, sparkling with light, on a sunny day, without the pitfalls of direct sunlight? Direct sunlight …