Creative portrait photography gives you an opportunity to express something. It gives you a moment to freeze time and show, in depth, the beauty of who you are.
Who are you? Where are you in life? What, or who, do you love? What do you hate? Where do you want to go?
Answering any of that in a creative photo is like a 1,000 word essay done in a fraction of a second.
It’s a fabulous form of communication, even if you never show anyone and you only communicate it to yourself.
Maybe you are unhappy about your weight and you’d like to do something that motivates you to change. Maybe you just had a baby and you’d like to capture something that expresses your life right at this moment. Maybe you are recently divorced or in a new relationship and you want to capture exactly what that is like right at this moment in time. Maybe you are like me and you just like to explore images of who you are over time.
It can all be done and it is sooooo worth doing.
Be real, be raw, be gritty, be brave, be beautiful, and show me who you are.
Outdoor portraits are bit of a crap shoot if you don't have a plan. Even with a plan, you often don't know exactly what you will get with the environmental variables. With a little patience though, this type of photography is often spectacular!
Here are my thoughts of making great outdoor portraits:
Sunrise and early mornings: Usually this is great light with interesting skies. The dew in warmer months is a nice touch and the frost/snow in cooler months shimmers nicely. The downside is that you have to get up wicked early and the time is short.
Midday: Two scenarios which include: 1. Harsh sun that requires some artificial or natural shade, or 2. Overcast diffused light.
More people are more active at this time too so car and pedestrian traffic can make it a little tricky. We can use harsh light to make a mood for the portraits, but, that is often not the intent of the subject so diffusers and fill lights can be used to provide more even areas. An overcast sky diffuses the light for us, but, often makes the sky areas boring. I consider that when composing an image.
Sunset is generally going to be the best time to make an interesting and dramatic image, especially when the sky is going to be included. Don’t count out nighttime for great portraits either though. Really amazing things can happen after dark (especially in the winter) and it sets us up to makes very unique photos! This is one reason that I like to schedule these shoots later in the day. That way you get the benefit of strong light, sunset light, and a dark sky. Everything is there, and, we don’t have to get up at 5am!
At any time of day, a landmark that is itself interesting, or, holds significance to the subject(s) gives the portrait a positive boost. Sometimes these places require some permission and sometimes not. Reflectors and lights are generally must haves, at least for backup, so it’s tough to be stealthy in public places and permission (when needed) is essential for a successful shoot.
Black and white portraits are also not just one thing though. It is not simply the lack of color that drawn the viewer in. In my old film days, I spent hours and hours printing my own black and white photos. Having that experience makes me keenly aware of the possible variations in black and white. The types of films, the film grain, the chemistry used, the papers used for printing, the quality of the enlarger, and toning methods all came together to make an image without ‘color’ an image with emotion.
Photographing the world around us.