Photography 101 – Portraits

I walked into the lab on Tuesday, still feeling insecure about my class participation after eyeing the other student’s cameras on the first night of Basic Photography for Beginners. I said something derogatory about my point and click camera to the woman sitting next to me.

“Whatever you’re comfortable using should be okay.” She told me. She made it clear she wasn’t judging me.

She admitted to buying her camera, case and extra lens months ago but had never moved the setting off automatic. Another guy said he’s had his camera for two years and has also always shot on automatic. I was beginning to feel better. These men and women were beginners too; they had flashier cameras but they were pointing and shooting just like me.

The instructor set up two backdrops, one rose, one blue, and asked the models to stand in front of them. The man is an actor and comfortable in front of the camera; he struck several poses, changed his facial expressions, even changed his shirt. The woman, a friend of a friend of the instructor’s, needed more guidance, asked how to pose, where to look, what to do. We clambered around the two, pointing and snapping, moving close, pulling back. There was some negotiating of the space around them and sometimes we had to wait until another student was done before taking our turn. The models looked from side to side, tried to rotate their body toward the photographer of the minute.

Every shot the instructor fired off was a hit, each picture capturing a mood. I took a bunch of photos from different angles, sometimes standing exactly where the instructor had just stood, but seemed to just miss the mark. I’m not complaining, think some of my photos came out pretty good, but after seeing a professional at work and the ease he possessed I’m a little in awe.

We were tasked with taking full length, half-length and close up shots of our models.  I’ve already learned that shadows under the chin are acceptable, shadows along their head are not. Oops!

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