Narrative Portraiture: Foundations of Portraiture
Illustration by John Hersey
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Camera handling tips


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Narrative Portraiture: Foundations of Portraiture

with Chris Orwig

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Video: Camera handling tips

In one the previous chapters, we were here at this location and we're talking about composition and how we could create different images in this context. Well, because of that I thought it would be fitting to talk about how we can work with and handle and hold our camera when we're on location in a location like this. Well, one of the first things that you want to consider is that when you're shooting you want to really create or hold your camera in a way so you can create sharp photographs. Now if I have my camera way out here it's going to shake a little. There is a lot of strain in my arm.
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Watch the Online Video Course Narrative Portraiture: Foundations of Portraiture
1h 44m Beginner May 27, 2011

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In the Narrative Portraiture series, photographer and teacher Chris Orwig explores the use of elements such as location and natural light to create images that tell stories about their subjects and produce a strong emotional connection.

In this first installment, Chris lays the groundwork for the series. The course begins with a discussion of portraiture and the characteristics that make an effective, story-filled portrait. Chris then explains the importance of establishing a connection with a subject and identifying those details that will help tell his or her story. Next, he explores elements such as location, natural lighting, and composition. The course concludes with an exploration of gear: the creative options that various lenses and cameras provide, and techniques for shooting efficiently and unobtrusively.

Topics include:
  • The elements of narrative portraiture
  • Choosing locations and working with natural light
  • Connecting with your subject to better tell a story
  • Composition strategies
  • Choosing lenses and selecting gear for a shoot
  • Camera-handling tips
Subject:
Photography
Author:
Chris Orwig

Camera handling tips

In one the previous chapters, we were here at this location and we're talking about composition and how we could create different images in this context. Well, because of that I thought it would be fitting to talk about how we can work with and handle and hold our camera when we're on location in a location like this. Well, one of the first things that you want to consider is that when you're shooting you want to really create or hold your camera in a way so you can create sharp photographs. Now if I have my camera way out here it's going to shake a little. There is a lot of strain in my arm.

Yet, if I anchor it in the top of my rib cage there at my chest, it's going to be a really solid position so I can hold my camera firmly. I can then create sharp photographs. Another way to do this is to wrap your camera's strap around your hand and by wrapping around that and creating that anchor, you can one hand your camera much more effectively. This will prevent you from dropping your camera and also it will give a little bit of an edge, so you can move around in some unique ways and then anchor and fire away. Well, what about the situations when you're not shooting? Well, of course you want to have a good camera strap, one that's comfortable.

I tend to use one that's pretty nondescript. There's no logos. I've cut all the logos off of it. It's comfortable. And also you want to figure out how to hang your camera. A lot of times, people hang their cameras this way so that the lens is pointing outward. Well that is an accident waiting to happen. Eventually you are going to knock into something and that can break or scratch your lens. So what you want to do is hang your camera, so that it points into the small of your back. Another thing that you can do to protect your camera is to use the lens hood.

Now the lens hood is intended to stop light from hitting the lens so there isn't any kind of strange refraction or you don't get a lens flare. So you use this typically for those reasons, but I keep this on my camera all the time and here is why. I almost consider it my lens cap, because with this on the camera that front lens element is so protected and in my case, I have unfortunately dropped a couple of my lenses a few times and this has saved those. So while I dropped it again it hit that and scratched or broke the lens hood rather than the lens itself.

The last little extra kind of bonus tip that I have learned from of so my friends who are journalists is to try to make my camera a bit more nondescript and there's a couple of ways that we can do that. One is we can use some gaffer tape to cover up the logo. So again it's just a camera. You're not really paying attention to what brand or model it is, but it makes it more nondescript. Another way to do that is how we interact with our camera. Sometimes, you can bring a camera out so you're really draw an attention to it or you can kind of hide it behind your back and that's what some of those great journalists do. They talk with you, you don't even really know they have a camera, and then they bring it out, take a couple of pictures, and then the camera goes away.

So we want to try to figure out how we can work with camera of course to create sharp images, but also how we can handle and hold our camera so that it can help us connect with our subject. So we can draw our subject out and create interesting photographs.

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