Earlier, I wrote a brief post about deciding to challenge my skills. I hopped a plane to Yorkshire, England to take part in the Compelling Portraiture Residential taught by Carolyn Mendelsohn. Today, I offer part 1 of the series that evaluates my experience. And because it is part 1, it starts off easy. Hang around for Parts 2,3, and 4...this stuff gets "real" and deep.
"Wait for the stillness"
We were instructed to bring a picture (of any media) that we had not created. Our images had to have special meaning to us. One by one we shared the stories behind our meaningful choices. Out of our stories, Carolyn identified what was significant, even "foundational", to each of us in our creative endeavors. And boy, she was right on the money for me..."Wait for the stillness." (You can read my thoughts about The Stillness here and here.)
Putting the subject at ease
One-by-one, Carolyn worked with the six participants. Each of us had the experience of sitting across from her lens and following her leads to produce a compelling portrait. The best tip? Have the person look for her reflection in the lens.
Oh, taking a portrait of someone suddenly seemed less scarey to me!
Planning the photoshoot
Carolyn paired us as partners. We scouted several outdoor areas as potential sites for our portraits. Once, we were back indoors we constructed a "shot list" and a "storyboard" from our ideas.
Story boarding with a shot list was a new experience for me. Previously, my landscapes were photographs of what presented itself to me in the moment. True, I scouted locations and constructed the composition in my head. Yet, the final image was, more than likely, a result of what nature provided me through lighting and weather.
For anyone who worries about the quality of light during the daytime hours, I say, you can get great images. Each of the images above was taken in early afternoon sunlight. I like how the shadows present differently in each of the images.
Shadows play a part in your "story in the photo." What do you want the shadows to say? How will they support your story?
Carolyn is secure enough in her own skills that she is not afraid to share the teaching limelight. She brought the Surreal Fashion Photography Team of Miss Aniela. (You may have seen their work in the Nikon ads for the D810). Of course, Miss Aniela uses studio lighting. They shared their entire creative process with us. Each of us had the opportunity to shoot our own images, with our own directions to the model.
A fun fact: Miss Aniela has a lovely 18 month old daughter with the cutest dimples! She has been exposed to so many photo set-ups that she knows how to change the settings for the studio lights. Indeed, she toddled right over and changed the settings. She was very confident in her choices. (It was a hoot to see her in action.)
Oh geeze! Look at this, I can take fashion photos with studio lighting!
This means I need to start practicing with studio lights.
I undertook this learning adventure because it was time to expand my skills, and expand my offerings. It is time for me to start offering portraiture to clients - with my own distinctive style and story.
Is it time for you to augment your art and photography skills? What scares you the most about your art? How will you expand your mastery? When will you challenge your current level of knowledge and skill?
Now, is a good time to start...
What's next in the Compelling Portraiture Adventure?
Here's what you can look forward to in the coming weeks/months.
- Learning to answer the brief from a fashion magazine.
- The Portfolio Review (profoundly life changing!)
- How the Portraiture Residential forced me to own who I am in my photography.
And, I'll be adding a post about Holiday Book ideas. The suggestions are great for the artists on your list, or even yourself. You can add them to your "wish list" and make someone's holiday gift-giving a little less stressful.
Expect the best. Anything else is an adventure.
Know anyone who is considering big steps in their creative process? Share this series with them.
Tell us about a time you chose to augment your art and photography skills. What scared you the most about your art? Did your experience help sharpen your level of mastery? Please share your experiences with us in the comments below, or over on the Facebook page.
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