Inspiration for a portrait...


I was recently reading an article in the BBC news about Andy Gotts (who is a photographer famous for photographing celebrities). I drew some inspiration from his photographs and decided to recreate the image style for myself. It reinforced some valuable lessons which I thought I would share.

Andy's photographic style is unique. He sees his portraits 'as face studies' and doesn't use intricate backgrounds or complicated image construction. Instead he relies on the emotional power of the subject to create a beautiful portrait. One will never be able to replicate his work, but I thought it would be an interesting project to use his work as inspiration.

Inspired by Andy Gotts

Andy's photographic style is unique. He sees his portraits 'as face studies' and doesn't use intricate backgrounds or complicated image construction. Instead he relies on the emotional power of the subject to create a beautiful portrait. One will never be able to replicate his work, but I thought it would be an interesting project to use his work as inspiration.

SHOOTING THE PICTURES


There were some key factors I needed to get right:


  1. Set up. I used a plain black backdrop which happened to be the reverse side of a reflector.
  2. Lighting. I used a single soft box light placed at roughly 9 o'clock to the subject. I kept natural light to a minimum. No flash was used.
  3. Subject. I took photographs which the subject looking both directly at the camera and off to one side. As I was using a 35mm macro lens, I was pretty close to the subject's face which actually helped remove the awkwardness of the posing as he couldn't see much apart from the camera.
  4. Exposure. I experimented with various exposures, apertures, and shutter speeds. The final shot was made at f1.8, 1/250 sec, using ISO 100, and -1.7 exposure.
  5. Editing. I used Adobe Lightroom to make small adjustments to the contrast and other lighting variables so that the subject's facial detail was made more vivid and only half of his face was visible.

LESSONS


Part of my motivation in photography comes from trying new styles and techniques and then applying the learning to my everyday work.


This session reinforced a number of lessons which can be valuable for budding new photographers.


  1. Use your camera's Continuous Shoot mode. I like my photographs to be natural and even small variations in a subject's pose or expression can either detract to add to the overall effect. That's why I don't take single shots - there is a higher probability I can get the "perfect" picture if I take multiple images.
  2. Take time to position the lighting. Even centimetre scale adjustments to lighting can make a significant difference to the final photography. Don't rush.
  3. Vary the exposure (a lot!). It's tempting to stop shooting once you think you have a decent photograph. Don't stop there! Keep shooting and vary the exposure positively and negatively to get a broad range of images.
  4. Don't rely on editing to make a good photography. A good final product is invariably the result of careful editing of a good quality photograph. There must be a high quality base (photograph) to start with so give yourself plenty of options. As the saying goes "you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear" i.e. all the clever editing in the world cannot turn a poor photograph into a great one!

LAST THOUGHT


It was tremendous fun trying something new and adding another skill to my service.


As Oscar Wilde said "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" and I am indebted to the genius of Andy Gotts for my latest photographs.


Petrina Reynolds

www.photography-by-petrina.co.uk

@photography_by_petrina


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