Sunday, June 5, 2011

Studio Portrait Photography

My photographic life is one of service. My purpose is to "find the light and share it abundantly". Part of the way that I fulfil my purpose is to help individuals and couples to produce beautiful, lightworking portraits that truly reflect their outer and inner beauty. In fact, the glamour portraits that I create are a significant part of the recognition I receive as a photographer. I love doing it and I'm honoured that people recommend my services to their friends.

So, when it comes to producing a studio portrait, there are three lighting conditions that I have to consider. The first and most obvious is how to use the studio set-up and lighting system to the best advantage of the subject(s). The second is about connecting with the inner-light of the personalities that I am shooting. And finally, the lightworking "magic" that I apply in the post-production process.

This blog article is going to provide you with a greater understanding of the portrait photography process, what it takes to capture your image and turn it into a portrait that will enthral your family and thrill your friends. Here is a visual before-and-after example of my studio portrait services in action:

The camera captures an extraordinary amount of detail as shown in the "before" image, while the "after" image reflects the human perspective of the subject's natural beauty. Click to Enlarge. Copyright 2011 Markham Lane. www.markhamimages.com
Now, I want to start this by saying that I truly believe every single adult human being, no matter how old and experienced they are, regardless of race, colour or creed, has something beautiful to offer to the world and it's my job to interpret that for the viewer.

There is someone for every one of us. And, being an open-minded individual, I am not opposed to helping any person, regardless of their background or experience, to bring out their best, for the entire world to see.

I am also not opposed to the Photoshop process - editing an image; to give it an artistic edge. Even though I have a media background, where photojournalists are morally opposed to "distorting the truth", my artistic license kicks into overdrive when it comes to producing portraits. That isn't to say that I won't produce "unedited" photos (because I do sometimes work with conditions that make Photoshop editing unnecessary) but I will not say no to a client who sees the artistic nature of my work and is willing to pay for it.

So, the first part of the process begins with a discussion about the type of photo that we are going to produce, including having an understanding of where and how that image will be displayed.

Usually, a portrait is an image of someone's face (although the "faceless portrait" was a movement that peaked through the 1990's) and any photographer of note will tell you that a great portrait keeps the focus on the eyes.

Supporting the story of the character are the considerations for what to wear, hair and make-up, as well as the surrounding elements that make-up the background. Composition notwithstanding, a studio portrait may bring attention to the character by supporting it with nothing more than a plain background. And sometimes a special location will form the background to tell the best story. This is all determined in the conversation between the subject and photographer and once completed; a date is set for production.

On the day of production, I set-up the lighting to achieve the output required. In my studio, I usually work with three separate lighting elements for a glamour portrait but these can easily be transported to other locations too. The lights I bring to the shoot include:
  • One for the face, which includes a large metal beauty dish reflection unit to soften the light being cast. It removes harsh shadows and makes fine lines disappear.
  • The second for background lighting.
  • And a third light to accentuate the highlights of the hair.
Of course, light diffusers, soft boxes and colour gels may also be used to add mood or feeling.

Positioning the lights and backgrounds, with props, hair and make-up complete, the subject arrives "on set" and the first thing they do is sign the Model Release Form to engage the photographer to begin work.

From here, it's the job of the photographer to position the subject for optimal lighting and composition. As the eyes are a reflection of the soul inside and flushing out the character of the soul is the primary task ahead, a great photographer will guide the subject through the process. I've found that a shared experience, where the subject and the photographer discuss ways to improve the visual story, facilitates the fastest way to get the best results. When both parties agree with a suitable result, the post-production (or editing) process can begin.

Click here to go to the portrait section of my online galleries.

Start a discussion with Markham about having your portrait produced, by calling the studio on 02-9332-2028.