A quick lighting lesson for outdoor portrait sessions.
Devin is an amazing young woman and full of life. Her senior portrait session was a blast for us all. At one point, we were walking from one spot to another (shade to shade – we are in Arizona, after all) and I fell in love with the idea of Devin with her ukulele in this corn field. Cute right? Also very difficult to light naturally, because we are in direct sunlight.
So, I am going to give you the quick recipe for a bright sunlit scenario:
1. Turn your subject away from the sun. This give you a nice rim light to separate her from the background and it keeps her from squinting into the sun. And it keeps her face in her own shadow.
2. Light her with a powerful flash, but NOT from the camera. Our flash is coming from off the left side of the frame, as close to the frame as possible. Lighting her from the side keeps the subject full of volume, rather than flattening her out and looking like an obvious flash. On camera flash is the worst kind of flash.
3. To match the power of the sun, you will need a lot of light from your flash. Whatever flash you have (mine was a Profoto B2) you can increase its power and size by using a deep silver umbrella (on any flash) which will magnify the light by nearly double. So, even if you have a speedlight… you can double its power by using a Profoto Deep Silver Umbrella. Make sure to push the flash all the way into the umbrella.
4. Play with the power of your flash until you have the right mix of ambient light from the sun and flash light from the flash. Notice that we did not lover the ambient light so that everything was dark and rich blue, because it was a bright sunny day. We let it feel that way in the shot and then simply added light on her face to fill in the shadows under the hat and on the entire camera side of her body. But not so bright that we lost the feel of he being in her own shadow.
Lighting with one light is simple, if you pay attention to and use the light you already have and just use your one additional light to augment the light that already exists. Don’t fight the light, work with it. Let God do 90% of the work and you just do the other 10%.
P.S. Contrary to her look in the behind the scenes photo, Devin was having a good time. But I think there may have been a bee flying around.
We spent the morning with Madison in Gilbert, Arizona, photographing her senior portraits. Here are my favorites from the shoot.
We photographed Ellie for her senior portraits a while ago, but I thought I would share this behind the scenes slideshow. Making senior portraits is one of the most enjoyable things I do as a photographer because it is a collaboration between me and an incredible and unique individual who is just bursting out into the world ready to conquer! I love it!
Enjoy the slideshow and watch for more slideshows and photo posts throughout the summer months.
Location: Chandler, Arizona
Slideshow music by It Takes Two to Tango, courtesy of Triple Scoop Music
On May 21, join me at Profoto.com/live on location for a real senior portrait shoot.
Those of you who do not live in the US might wonder what a senior portrait is. It is simply a portrait taken of a student during his or hers senior year of high school. In this case, I am taking you on a real senior portrait shoot, which we have filmed just for you to see our lighting techniques.
We bring a single flash to the shoot and utilize simple yet effective lighting techniques that make lighting a portrait simple and beautiful. This webinar is not just for senior portrait photographers. Any photographer wanting to create beautiful portraits fast on location will have plenty to learn.
The webinar will take place on May 21 at 7PM CET (May 21 at 10AM Los Angeles, 1PM New York, 6PM London, 7PM Paris // May 22 at 1AM Beijing, 2AM Tokyo, 3AM Sydney).
Go to www.profoto.com/live to sign up or watch live.
Alex met me at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts for her Senior Portrait. There is a little park there in the middle of the city and it is very close to old town Scottsdale. Between the two, we had all sorts of options for backgrounds. Here are some of my favorite images from the portrait session.
I just realized, I have posted all smiling photos of Alex. Well, she has a beautiful smile, so…
I love the rough planks on this building, but this wall of the building is only visible to the back parking lot and alleyway and there really isn’t much room to take the photo. I would have loved a wider shot of the entire wall, but with all the cars in front of the wall, that wasn’t an option, so we went with a tighter portrait.
This next set of images remind me of an Anthropology catalog. When Alex walked out in this dress, I immediately thought of Anthropology, so we went right to this ivy covered wall and my first order of business in post-production was to add the faded warm color treatment you see used on the photo.
Senior Portraits by Jared Platt, Platt Photography
Slideshow Music by Mindy Gledhill, Courtesy of Triple Scoop Music.
Location: Scottsdale, Arizona
Meet Lindy. Senior, class of 2013. She’s a all around great girl with a great attitude. I love to meet high school students who have perspective and can see the big picture. Sometimes a teenager who is wise beyond their years can be a bit too serious so they aren’t super fun, but Lindy has a lot of energy and spunk, but still sees her world in realistic terms. That’s important. Well, I can’t say enough good about her and we wish her the very best during her senior year and out into her future.
We took Lindy’s senior portraits in San Diego at Mission Beach. We arrived at the beach early in the morning, so the beach was fairly empty which gave us plenty of room to work. I love the over cast day. So many clients worry when their photo day or wedding has clouds, but when it comes to photos, I couldn’t ask for anything better. I love the soft light. It gives me a nice even exposure to deal with. Then, if I want to sculpt with light, I can add a little light wherever I want to see it.
Lindy brought along a hat, which I completely loved, so that stayed with us a lot during the shoot. While in this next image, it is merely a prop, it finishes the photo in many of the images.
This is where the hat really makes the image!
This next image is very important to me as a photographer. Catching a subtle and important aspect of a senior’s personality in an image is important to me. And this image, speaks volumes to me about Lindy. That strong determination is a big part of how I see her. I suppose I can be wrong in my read of personality, but when I am photographing someone, I think I get a good read on people. And with Lindy, because she is a good friend to our family, I think I can say with confidence that this one is very accurate. But, I suppose you’ll have to ask her mom.
We did a few shots of Lindy looking at the camera next to her 2013 numbers in the sand, but I liked this one the best.
This is a great example of the process of sculpting in a subdued and flat lighting condition. I am using the ambient marine layer lighting to get the basic exposure accomplished, then with my Canon Speedlite 600RT flash off camera to the left and behind the subject, I am adding the crest of light on her nose and cheek-bone, etc. This gives the photo great deal of volume with very little effort. Normally, the sun would fill in as the backlight, but when the sun is held up behind a thick cloud, you have to create your own sun. The nice thing about this manufactured sun (a flash), the power is completely controllable.
Lindy, thanks for trusting us with your Senior Portrait. May every year ahead of you be a success!
Senior Portrait Photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography
Slideshow Music by Mindy Gledhill, courtesy of Triple Scoop Music
Location: San Diego, California
Sarah is my final senior for the class of 2012, graduating from Hamilton High School. Smart, funny, talented and pretty. She was fun to work with. Here are some of my favorite images from her senior portrait session.
Lest you think this is just a bike we grabbed for the senior portraits, that’s not the way I roll. Props are always extremely personal for my seniors. This is her bike. I have seen her ride it on several occasions, though I think that may change now that is it officially five thousand degrees outside.
Sarah was smart and got up very early in the morning for her portrait session. This meant, we got to shoot in the cool of the morning and got beautiful clean golden light from the sunrise. There is nothing like photographing in the early morning. It just takes commitment.
A truck drove by on the dirt road and kicked up some dust so I sent her back out onto the road to get this shot, the dust made for a great change in the lighting scenario. You can see the difference between this shot and the previous shot. The difference is dust. I have been known to have someone do a quick donut in a car to kick up some dust for a photo shoot.
I love this photo. I took great care to make this photo as natural as possible. Sarah’s grandfather has passed on. She is wearing her grandfather’s jacket and holding a picture of him. But the key to photographing someone and having them interact with someone who is no longer here is a tricky one. If you dismiss the importance of the relationship, you are shortsighted, but if you overplay the visual, then you don’t do the relationship justice. So when Sarah brought out a photo of her grandfather, I wanted to make sure I got it right. It’s a simple photo, but I think it feels natural and there’s a softness and comfort level in the photograph that makes me think I got this one right.
I was adjusting the photos in front of another photographer and she remarked how striking Sarah’s eyes were. I quite agree.
You are thinking, “the outfit couldn’t be any more perfectly matched to the car.”
Until you see the jeans.
Sarah is a very playful girl. I guess it comes with the Theater background. She likes to put on a show.
Case in point!
Now, I have to end with this image because I have a connection here with Sarah. She loves Poe and I have always loved EA Poe. Each Christmas Eve, my father would read the Christmas story from Luke or sometimes from Jesus the Christ (by James E Talmage), but after the Christmas story, we were then treated to a reading of The Raven, by AE Poe and then an encore reading of The Bells. Some in my family complained and thought it was bizarre. I have always enjoyed the tradition. So I can relate with Sarah’s affinity for Poe.
Location: Chandler Arizona
High School: Hamilton High School