Slightly open, it makes the whole difference. A slightly open mouth represents so many things. Is she about to speak, to tell something nice, something wrong? Or is she just about to say something but at the last minute she thought it twice? Or it’s just the prelude for a kiss or something else? It’s up to you, it’s up to me, it’s up to her, it’s imagination, pure fantasy. Whatever it could be, that slightly open mouth means so many things and changes the whole portrait completely. I like to look at it, in direct eye line and I can’t avoid moving down to see her mouth. Maybe that’s why a picture is worth a thousand words.
I love to take portraits. It’s one of the funniest photo-experiences I have had. Have you ever wondered about how to take good portraits? There’s no answer for this, but we can follow some simple advices, specially if we start to focus on the main target: The subject.
The art of portraits is a game played by two people, the photographer and the model. The relationship between them is important and it’s the key point in the process to obtain the best expressions from our model. I remember that the first time I tried to take a portrait many feelings passed through my mind. I was nervous, I was shy and I was always afraid to make my model feel uncomfortable. The model as well perceived my feelings and at the end a whole uncomfortable environment got created. After that, I learned one important lesson: connect with your model.
Portraits is one of the most extensive fields in photography because it’s the direct interaction with a very difficult thing. The thing we want to shot is a living entity and it doesn’t follow a natural instinct pattern. That thing is also intelligent, or some of them pretend to be so improvisation is a must and hunting the right moment is an instant of spiritual inspiration. Well that thing are “we”, humans :)
To shot portraits do we need a studio? do we need a special high quality gear?
Of course if we have a studio, the knowledge, the time and the equipment we can do almost anything! But usually we lack of the necessary tools when we find the right person and the right moment to shot a good portrait.
This little Howto will explain how to do it with a DSRL, a small flash, an extension cable and a white sheet.
All this stuff can be easily carried in a bag.
A good friend of mine, @iMorpheus, asked me to write about how I took this portrait for his new group created in flickr, check it here.
It was a bar, it was dark, it was crowded, there was smoke in the air and I was sitting in a table, drank a few beers…
At that point the victim (Paul) was just in the right position in front of me and smoking. I had to shot a portrait!
In the bag I had a flash Sigma EF-500, Nikon D200 and a small white sheet plus a TTL cord to detach the flash from the camera to make it movable. @tangerinejp helped me putting the white sheet near Paul’s face, the flash settings were in manual at minimum power 1/64. The camera settings were f/3.2, 1/250, ISO 100 and white balance in flash mode. The rest of the job corresponds to the model, he really played the role and that’s one of the most important things. That’s why although the conditions might be bad or the equipment might be poor, if the model knows how to behave in front of the camera, and knows how to transmit a feeling, the rest is just a right shot!