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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 installment of the series, Chris shows how to incorporate aspects of a location, such as architecture, natural light, and even passersby, to create authentic, story-filled portraits.
The course begins with a photo shoot on the Brooklyn Bridge. Chris emphasizes the importance of directing and collaborating with a subject and of being responsive to changing lighting and location conditions. After the shoot, Chris discusses the preparation that goes into on-location shoots, from choosing camera gear to storyboarding. Next, he reviews the images from the shoot and mentions the post-processing techniques that he employed to make them more effective. The course also includes several assignments aimed at reinforcing the concepts Chris describes.
The course concludes with an on-location family portrait shoot and a look at the special considerations that go into group shots.
Chris Orwig: Do you mind if I take a picture with you and this stranger here? Jared Mason: No, I love people. Chris Orwig: Okay, yeah. One of the things that's so enjoyable about taking photographs out in the world is that there are so many variables. You never know what's going to happen. There is something that's interesting about bringing a stranger into the mix and in this context what I liked was just the juxtaposition of these two different types of people. Well, before the photo shoot, the day before, one of the things I noticed was that New Yorkers are just so diverse. Here was this opportunity to take advantage of that. Again bring these two guys together shoulder-to-shoulder.
And there was another interesting aspect to asking a stranger to take their photograph and that is that sometimes we get a little bit nervous or for a lot of us it's difficult to do something like that. Or let's say we don't have a camera, to just approach a stranger and start talking to them. What I've found is that if you have a camera you can use it as a little bit of an excuse or as a passport to do things that you wouldn't have otherwise done. Now had I not had my camera, had I not been doing a photo-shoot, would I've talked with that guy? Probably not. And that's what photography and that's what cameras do for us is they get us out in the world, they expose us to things that we would have otherwise missed.
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