Narrative Portraiture: Foundations of Portraiture
Illustration by John Hersey

Photo review: Composition in print


From:

Narrative Portraiture: Foundations of Portraiture

with Chris Orwig

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Video: Photo review: Composition in print

Well, while it's interesting to look at standalone photographs, it's equally as important and interesting to look at photographs together, to see how they relate to each other compositionally. You know, a lot of times when you do work for a client, they use more than one photograph. So learning how to fit different photographs together can really affect some of your compositional decisions when you're out in the field making those images. So the photographs that we are going to look at are bound together in this book. They are made for a commercial client.
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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

Photo review: Composition in print

Well, while it's interesting to look at standalone photographs, it's equally as important and interesting to look at photographs together, to see how they relate to each other compositionally. You know, a lot of times when you do work for a client, they use more than one photograph. So learning how to fit different photographs together can really affect some of your compositional decisions when you're out in the field making those images. So the photographs that we are going to look at are bound together in this book. They are made for a commercial client.

What's interesting about this book is you will see these set of photographs and we'll talk about their composition and how they relate to each other in this context. So let's go ahead and take a look at this book. In the first photograph, we're going to see a picture of that board. Now I am trying to create an image compositionally that communicates a bit about the surfer and the brand. So I have the surfboard in focus. He is out of focus and it's communicating enough. We see the entire shape of the surfboard. As we flip the page, we'll start to see that I'm beginning to think a little bit more creatively.

Here I'm focusing on different aspects, in this case the surfboard. Here the surfer. Here the surfer looking at the surfboard on the tracks. And by bringing images together in a book and binding it, combining them on one page, the freedom and flexibility start to tell different aspects of the story. On this next page again, some more creativity with how we can depict the surfer and this particular product. Here you can see sometimes the products are alone facing forward or backwards.

Aggain, really just changing the overall variety in a limited space. There were two locations for this shoot. One is with this background. Here another one on the train tracks. You can see I am trying to work both locations. In this photograph, it's a little bit more of a close-up of some of the branding on the surfboard and then on the right- hand side something similar to the other theme is the first image. The surfboard in focus, surfer out of focus, but this time a little bit more balanced. The surfboard isn't so prominent.

Turning the page to our next set of photographs, this one is just kind of playful. It's one image. You can see I am working in different ways. They are all different, but very similar, just giving different options, kind of a little bit of a tongue-in-cheek regards to playing with repetition. Then here on the last page, you can see compositionally in regards to layout, I'm trying to get a bit more creative with this, with a straightforward picture and then one that's cropped much more tightly. All right, well that wraps up our look at these photographs in this book.

So what I hope what's helpful in looking at those photographs was that by seeing how the photos belong and fit together, it can open up some really creative options. Now there were certain images in this book that might not have been very good alone, yet together with another photograph, they can communicate something interesting. And sometimes when I combine photographs like this, it reminds me I need to be artistic. I need to bend or even break the rules compositionally sometime.

Of course, you need to get that A+ shot that really communicates the heart of the story, but then sometimes you can create or capture those small photographs, the connective tissue that thread together the entirety of the story.

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