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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.
As we're approaching the close of this installment I thought it would be worthwhile to take a few minutes to share with you some places that you can go, some photographers that you can look at for further inspiration. Now you may remember one of those introductory movies when I said one of our goals in going to New York is to be inspired by this location, to become familiar with New York, to learn from New York. Another goal was to figure out how can we create portraits within this context. Well, moving from that how then can we gain some inspiration from New York, and from creating portraits here? One of things that I think that we can do, is we can look to other great photographers that were either born or raised or had their studios in New York.
For example, Richard Avedon. Richard Avedon is a fascinating photographer. He has a number of great books out. And his photography is really strong. And so often we look at photographs from guys like this online and what's happens is when you look at a photograph online, typically you're multitasking. You're checking your e-mail doing something else, clicking through a few photos. You are not really letting them sync in. I've a friend who is a film director and I asked him, hey, so what do you do in the evenings? And he said, well, right now what I'm doing is I'm sitting down each night with one of Richard Avedon's books, this one in particular.
And I'm just looking at it for few hours. He's spending time getting to know the photographs, almost living with those images, and I think something unique happens when we look at a book. Online, again it's click this, scroll here, do that, multitask. A book, we sit down, maybe with a cup of coffee, we pause, and we can slowly flip through the pages and there's a linear order,. There's a beginning, a middle, and end.
The images connect one to another. We can see a photographer's vision in a unique and distinct way and that is one of the reasons why I just love photo books. And who also can we learn from the New York? What about Alfred Stieglitz? So many people refer to him as the Beethoven of photographers, because he has so much intensity in his images and there are so many others as well. I'll mention a few more names. Irving Penn. Throughout his life he created a really strong body of work and some of his portraits are among my favorite.
And then there's Elliott Erwitt. Then that guy tells stories with his pictures. Some of his photographs have literally caused me to laugh out loud. He has a really fun and quirky and interesting perspective. Then there are other photographers, like Edward Steichen. Well, of course, we have to mention, Annie Leibovitz, one of the greatest portrait photographers of all time, and of our time. Now there are many more New York photographers, which are great. I'm just sharing with you or giving you a few names, and there's a reason why I'm doing that.
It's easy to be overwhelmed by great photography. Sometimes we look at these lists. We look at all this photography and we're immobilized. So what I'm suggesting here isn't that you look at everything, you dig into everything that's New York. Rather, you pick maybe, one name, one person, one photographer, and get to know their work and get to know it well.
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