Video: Looking For Light And Locations In The City

Oxford. One of the greatest cities on earth. Full of history, of course, but also a vibrant modern city with a huge range of locations in which to create portraits. So how do you go about looking for that perfect patch of light and that sumptuous scene to create an iconic portrait? In this video, we go for a long walk through Oxford with our models, Dory and Anisia, looking for interesting patches of light in which to create images. …

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 …

Outdoors Groom-To-Be Portrait

For outdoor portraits on location, I’ll often walk around an area with a subject. This keeps things relaxed and means when we come across a great location, we can set up a shot right there. However, although my general approach is spontaneous, I’m studying and checking every detail of the frame before I press the shutter release. This was shot as part of an engagement portrait session at Black Heath, in Greenwich. Phill is one of the most fashion-savvy grooms …

Who ‘Nose’ The Rules?

The ‘nose room’ rule & ‘cheekline’ rule are are rules about noses in portraits that you need to know, even if you decide to break them to create visual tension. I had just finished a shoot with Ryan and his sisters in a wood on his farm. We were walking back when I saw this caravan and thought it would look make an interesting background for a portrait. So I asked Ryan to sit on the wooden pallet – a …

Portrait Blocks & Stabilisers

Why you need wider shots to help you sell wall portraits, and how to place elements in your composition so they are either visual blocks or stabilisers. This kind of portrait works well on the wall. My subject, Emma, isn’t so close up that the picture would feel overwhelming at a larger scale. The mood of the picture is calm and relaxing, and the environment surrounding Emma is beautiful in itself. If you’re selling prints then bigger is better, so …

Four Ways To Crop A Portrait

To crop, or not to crop? For all portraits other than full-length ones, you have to decide whereabouts on your subject’s body to place the edge of the frame. There are a few places where cropping is fine, and a few you should always avoid. The nice thing about working on location is that, more often than not, you can create numerous images out of one spot, and make them look very different simply by changing your crop. I photographed …

Golden Spiral Curve In Portraits

The Golden Spiral is a compositional tool that helps you create more high-impact portraits. Here’s how I used foreground foliage to create the spiral’s curves. The Golden Spiral is a compositional guideline that helps you place key elements of your scene within naturally powerful areas of the frame. In portraiture, that key element is typically your subject’s face or eyes. The Golden Spiral is based on an ancient design principle that found a ratio of 1:1.618 is the most visually …

Video: Outdoors portrait of Megan lit through glass by a softbox indoors

A softbox brings flattering light and a striking reflection to this outdoors portrait. As part of our series on reflections, I wanted to show how light from indoors can be used to light a subject standing on the other side of the glass. Shooting along the surface of the glass from the right angle then captures the subject’s reflection. Watch the video to find out how to light your subject in a flattering way in this set-up, and how to …

Video: Easy natural light garden portrait of Nikki

Being flexible when things don’t go quite to plan often results in the best images of all. Ah, British weather. Here’s what happened when all our best-laid plans went out of the window. You can either complain about it or get on with it – we opted for the latter and ended up with a beautiful portrait of our model Nikki, framed by out-of-focus lavender. Sneak behind-the-scenes with us as I talk you though the thinking behind the portrait.

Video: A simple spring-themed portrait of Nikki in the studio garden

Bring context to your outdoor portraits by including foreground and background details. Sometimes you want your portraits to convey a sense of time and place. I was photographing our model, Nikki, in our beautiful studio gardens just as the spring colours (and daffodils – bleurgh) were starting to emerge among the flora. I’ve included some of those colours as out-of-focus details in the foreground, while others surround Nikki in the background. As a result, the portrait conveys the garden surroundings …