3 simple portrait setups

As I said in my last blog, I will explain how I shot the photo shoot with my girlfriend. You can shoot portraits wherever. However, to get some professional looking ones, you need a couple things first. First, you will need a background. In this blog, I will go over three different backgrounds. I forgot to take pictures of my setup last week but in future blogs I will for these type of blogs.

1.      Bed Sheet.

You may not think of this right away but everyone has a bed sheet not being used (make sure it is clean first!). A bed sheet makes for a perfect background. That is what a muslin background is, just a giant one. What I do is find something to hold the bed sheet up such as a wardrobe or shelving. But what about wrinkles? Here is where the flash comes in. You set the flash up on the stand that comes with it. I am pretty sure all flashes come with it. You can also use a light stand if you have one available. What you want to do is set the flash right behind your model facing the bed sheet. This will make the wrinkles disappear due to the flash being bright. Your camera registers as this as just white since it is going to be bright (not intended to rhyme). You will have to play with the flash power to get the background looking just right.

If you are using a darker bed sheet such as black or blue you will have to try your best to make sure the bed sheet is smooth as possible.

2.      Flash behind the background

If you have muslin or a photographic background you can use this for the first setup and this setup as well. Instead of putting the flash in front of background you are going to put it behind the background. Now this will only work with a white background since you will be shooting through it. I used this setup in my photo shoot last week.

I took a PVC pipe and drilled a hole at each end. Then, I put the PVC pipe on top of my two light stands. This will hold up my background. For this setup, you will need some light stands or a background stand to do this since you need to shoot through. Next, you set the flash up like you did in the first setup. I had my model (girlfriend) stand right in front of it. This lets the light wrap around her and creates a very soft light. You can also have the model stand perpendicular to the background. This creates a very soft like and almost looks like the model is standing next to a window.

3.      White or cream wall

In this last setup, you don’t even need a bed sheet or background. You can just use a white or cream colored wall. Setup the flash like you did in the previous setups and place it right behind the model. This will be just like the first setup as the flash will be shooting into the wall. This will “blow out” the color and imperfections in the wall making it look like a white background.

From here, you can use any key light as you wish.  You can use a softbox, umbrella, or bare flash whatever style you are going for.

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Shot Breakdown : Gemma

Last Sunday, my girlfriend, Maegyn, asked me to take some pictures of her family. They planned to have every all the relatives over for a get together. Half way through the party, they said let’s do the pictures now. I grabbed my camera and started to take some test shots. I changed the shutter speed and ISO to account for the late afternoon sunlight. I chose to put the sun to the back of my subjects since the sun was coming down and provided a soft light. I found the right exposure and proceeded to get everyone together. First, are my girlfriend’s grandmother and her five sisters (one couldn’t make it). This was a challenge since all the sisters like to mess with each other. I finally settled them down and clicked the shutter. Next, I got all the cousins together. After some giggling and playing around, I moved onto the second cousins (my girlfriend and her cousins). That took only a couple of seconds since they know to smile and be down with it. I then noticed Maegyn’s cousin Noelle holding her daughter Gemma. Noelle’s right side was facing and she held Gemma. Gemma was faced towards me but wasn’t look at me at first. I lifted my camera to my eye in the hopes she would look directly at me. I twisted the focus ring until her face became clear. I fired off a couple frames and I didn’t get the shot I wanted. I waited and finally Gemma looked at me and I clicked off two quick shots. I hit the replay button on my camera to review the image. I scanned the image making sure she was looking at me and she was in focus. I smiled and realized, I got it! I got the shot I wanted.

            This brings up a style I guess you would say of my photography. I like to shoot real shots and real emotion. When people get their pictures taken, they pose and force a smile or a face. Everything’s manipulated to look like that’s the way the person looks all the time and I don’t think that’s true. I think what makes an amazing photograph is the real emotion. Photography is capturing the moment but it’s about capturing the right moment. That right moment is real and might not be part of the photo session. That brings up another part of photography that photographers need to focus on, keep clicking. You must always be ready for that moment. A photographer needs to keep their fingering on the shutter. If they are not, they miss the shot. That shot maybe the one. That one shot that you look at and just go, wow. I try to capture that wow shot every time I lift the camera up to my eye. That’s why I take photographs. #storyportrait #shotbreakdown.