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 …

Image Critique 2

Welcome to the second of our image critiques. We’re still finding our feet with these so please give us any feedback (good and bad) as we decide how we want these to look and feel. If you’re one of our members and would like your images critiqued, please use the ‘image critique’ menu option above to submit a file (or more than one of you wish.) Your image will then appear in one of the future episodes! If you’re not …

Searching For Giants

Making your shoots fun for your subjects is key to getting memorable portraits. This image was the final shot of the day and the result of a playful interaction. The shoot with George and his parents was over, and we were walking back to the studio. I had plenty of shots already, but then we passed a church with a huge door. An image formed in my mind. Note: to create the sense of height in the doors, I lay …

Kai With His Skateboard

Simple is often best. A patch of daylight on a simple brick wall is all I needed to create this portrait. Oh, and the coolest kid on the block as my subject. Kai is very cool, very photogenic and completely at ease in front of the camera. I’ve photographed him a few times, and knew how relaxed he would be during this shoot. I asked him to bring his skateboard, and loved how it was nearly as big as him! …

Feminine Urban Portraiture

Find out the most important thing to look for in a location, and how to create a simple, authentic and feminine portrait with a subject who isn’t a model. It’s easy to focus on the problems with a location (gutters, street signs, cables etc), but a slight change of angle or a different crop can solve all of these. As long as the lighting is good, there is usually a way to make the location work. It would have been …

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 …

Farmhouse Rule-Of-Thirds Portrait

Sometimes the best portraits start unplanned – in this case, during a shoot break. I saw a patch of light, adjusted the scene to improve the composition and used the Rule of Thirds for a visually pleasing result. My client for this shoot commissioned me to create some portraits of their two grownup children, at their beautiful farmhouse home on the top of a hill in the Chilterns. As you’d expect, we spent loads of time outside, making the most …