Portrait Photography

Previously we watched a series of tutorials about how best to plan and prepare for taking a portrait. (if you missed those or want to review, they are linked here)

Now it’s your turn! Use the knowledge gained through those tutorials as well as our discussion to take some dazzling photographs. You need to hand in AT LEAST 3 portraits (three different people and/or locations and/or poses.) Soon we will talk about retouching and how to make those photos even better, but the first part is to take great portraits.

You will also need to be able to answer the following questions:

1) Why did you choose the subject that you did? What things had to be considered when working with this person? (You have to do different things when working with a little kid than you would with one of your grandparents, for example. Does this person have hair, skin, jewelry, clothing, etc. that needed to be considered/modified?)

2) Why did you choose the location that you did? What things had to be considered when working in this location?

3) Why did you choose the pose that you did? What were you thinking when you got your subject to stand, move their body, or smile in a certain way?

4) What modifications did you make to the photo after you took it? (briefly explain the tools & techniques applied in Photoshop/Lightroom.) (I want to see a BEFORE AND AFTER photo, comparing the original and your modified version.)

You can answer alongside your finished portraits in a PowerPoint or Word document, or explain these things to me in person.

Some tips:

  • As I’ve mentioned, SET YOUR CAMERA TO RAW (not .jpg). RAW files will be easiest and best for retouching.
  • Taking photos of your friends or family is going to be easiest and most comfortable.
  • As with all photos, LIGHT IS KEY. Choose a location that provides you with enough light. Although we don’t go into too much detail with lighting, you may want to consider bringing in extra lamps & lights, depending on your location. Outdoor photos generally have the most/best light, but it can be hard to find a background that isn’t too distracting (plus, it’s COLD OUT!)
  • Nice clothing makes for a better formal portrait. Have people pay attention to what they’re wearing so that they look nice. Things like thin stripes and busy patterns (lots of tiny polka dots, for example) don’t photograph well. Consider plain clothing (simple colours) and avoid logos and busy designs.
  • As the videos discuss, you need to be aware of how the people are sitting/standing. Make them look natural, but use the tips in the videos to make people look their best. You are the photographer/director/boss, so tell people what to do!
  • TAKE A LOT OF PHOTOS! Although you only need to drop off 3, it’s hard to tell which will be best to use and easiest to fix up until you look at the photos later on your computer, so take a whole bunch to choose from!
  • If you’re really stuck, you are welcome to do the assignment at school and have some help. Those might not turn out to be as beautiful, but it is an option.
  • Pay attention to all of your choices and be prepared to write about them or discuss them. This is a big part of your mark – easy to do, but lots of people mess it up and forget about this step or don’t take it seriously and lose A LOT of marks!


Tell Mr. Robson what's on your mind!