Monday, September 14, 2009


This past Saturday I asked my wife to model for me so I could practice portrait lighting and posing. I know very little about how to properly pose or light a person for a portrait, but from reading online forums, books and studying other photographer's portrait work I've picked up a few tips for posing and lighting. I wasn't trying to create "glamour" style images but they seem to have come out that way.

Our kitchen and breakfast area has excellent defused northern light streaming in through the two large windows so I decided to use that room for this shoot. We moved the breakfast table and chairs out of the room and I tacked a large 6' x 14' piece of black felt cloth about 4 feet up on the wall to act as the backdrop. The cloth hung down the wall with enough material leftover so that I could pulled in away from the wall to cover the floor. This allowed me to have the same color on the floor and the wall behind her. The use of a solid color backdrop allows the viewer of the image to focus on what's important, the person and not become distracted by the background.

The lighting for all of these images was natural sunlight coming in from two windows located to the right of the camera. I also used a 24 inch round silver reflector that was used to reflect the sunlight on to the side of her face opposite the windows. The reflected light reduces the shadows and provides even lighting across her face which helps smooth the look of the skin.
1. I like this image with the exception that you can not see her hair very well. I also don't like the way her legs are crossed, but I'm not sure how else I would have had her arranged them.

2. This was my favorite image from the day. I like the crossed legs, the color of her hair and the lighting on her face. If I had to change anything I'd have her move her legs so they are more straight up and down like in the image below this one.
3. This one is similar to the above but the crossed legs are more straight up and down which I like better. She thinks there is too much symmetry in the face, hands and hair.
4. This one was all her, she started moving her hand through her hair and I grabbed this shot. The lighting across her face and the focus is off a tad bit but I like the feel of movement in this image.

If there is something I learned from this session it is that I want to have more energy in my portrait images. These are a little to "posed" for my liking so next time I'm going to use a fan and see if we can get her hair moving in the wind or something like that to give them more life. We are both very happy with the results and we're planning on doing more of this style later.

All images copyright Daniel Ray Photography.

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