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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.
After you've scouted a location and started to think about what type of images you want to create, one of the next questions to consider is how you're going to handle your gear. Now I have a good friend with me to help out and a lot of times what I'll do is with a friend or assistant, that person will hand me a camera or I'll just carry one camera, my gear maybe close by. I can run over and get it. At here on the Brooklyn Bridge I knew that that wasn't going to be an option. I had to have my friend stationed near the gear bags so it he can watch all those, because it was an incredibly public place. There were so many noises and people and so much happening.
I needed to have my cameras on me or right at my feet. I need to become kind of a human coat hanger and I wanted to do that so that I could walk, so that I could move, and so that I could create different kind of images. And something else it's important in regards to your gear is to keep in mind that your gear isn't sacred. It's not overly special. Someone what can happen is you can work with someone, you can swing out a big camera say like this one, and they'll say wow, that must be expensive. It can almost create a sense of fear of the camera. I always like to try to minimize that and so in almost every shoot what I'll say is "Oh yeah, it is a neat camera. Here will you hang onto it for a second? I need to go grab something." And just give them a chance to hold the camera. I say look through the lens, see what I'm seeing here.
And by doing that you can create connection. You can change a perspective. So it's not just me photographing the subject. Rather it's us collaborating together to try to create interesting images.
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