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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.
In the next couple of movies, we're going to review and evaluate the photographs that were captured of the family. Well, it all started out as we went downstairs and we were heading out towards this pier. Well, as is the case with most families, it's difficult to get everyone going, to keep people moving. So I was downstairs waiting, and I was waiting with a few of the kids and we are goofing around, skateboarding. We found this pumpkin and set it on his head. Now at this point I'm trying to get familiar with this location.
I'm thinking, how can I take advantage of this in-between moment before everyone has arrived? And also, I was asking myself, what kind of pictures do I want to make, color, or black-and-white, stoick images, or funny photographs? I didn't exactly know. But I was looking for those little moments, like this one of this guy. I love those big blue eyes. Well, finally, everyone arrives. And here we are walking out on this pier. Now I've never been at this location, but I knew that I need to get people somewhere.
When you're working with a group, it's helpful to have some destination in mind. I wanted to get out towards the end of the pier. And in this particular case, you can see this is an ordinary scene. nothing special about it, but I needed to keep that momentum going. So we get out in the pier and we arrive at this bench. But it's not a very good picture, because at this point, everyone is still an individual. How can I somehow bring these people together? I need to do something or, perhaps even better, something needs to happen.
Like in this case, a helicopter flew by, and you can see everyone looking at it. Now everyone is somehow united. And I like this picture because they're looking outside of the frame. And it makes you think, what are they looking at? I love all of their expressions, which reveal so much about who each of these characters are. So of course, I keep shooting. And this is one of the next photographs that I make of Jared, and it's a good picture. But all of a sudden I realize, Chris, this isn't the story that you're supposed to tell.
You're here to tell a story about Jared's family, about Jared and his family. So I need to go back to that. I need to start to think about how can I bring these different people together, how do they relate to each other? I really like this picture. I like the lines, the geometry, how they're looking in different directions. I need to do more of this. And so I keep working it. I keep looking for photographs, until I arrive at this moment.
I really liked this moment! And I like it because Jared is out of focus, kind of as he should be, in the background. There are his two sons and they're all playing music. And what's connecting them is the music. And sometimes when you we photograph people who are playing music, it requires that you use your imagination. You think, what kind of music are they making? What are they playing. It draws you in, in a distinct way. And so what I know that I need to do was more of this.
Somehow I needed to get the family connected. Now this is just the beginning of the shoot. I'm just starting to work with the end of the pier. I need to keep going further. We'll take a look at the next pictures that were made in the next movie.
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