Narrative Portraiture: On Location in New York City
Illustration by John Hersey

Sketching and shooting


From:

Narrative Portraiture: On Location in New York City

with Chris Orwig

Video: Sketching and shooting

All right, are you ready for your second assignment? Here it goes. There are couple of different elements for this assignment. The first one is that I want you to pick a busy location to photograph someone that you admire, that you respect, that you like. It could be a brother, a co-worker, a colleague, a mentor. Pick someone that fascinates you. Why a busy location? I want you to photograph them in a busy location because that is really difficult. Now it is easy to photograph someone in a park with no one around, with nice light and beautiful trees or flowers. That's simple.

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Watch the Online Video Course Narrative Portraiture: On Location in New York City
1h 30m Appropriate for all May 27, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Topics include:
  • Engaging the subject
  • Scouting a location
  • Handling gear on location
  • Taking advantage of natural light
  • Planning and storyboarding before a shoot
  • Working with props and groups
Subject:
Photography
Author:
Chris Orwig

Sketching and shooting

All right, are you ready for your second assignment? Here it goes. There are couple of different elements for this assignment. The first one is that I want you to pick a busy location to photograph someone that you admire, that you respect, that you like. It could be a brother, a co-worker, a colleague, a mentor. Pick someone that fascinates you. Why a busy location? I want you to photograph them in a busy location because that is really difficult. Now it is easy to photograph someone in a park with no one around, with nice light and beautiful trees or flowers. That's simple.

But if you want to really learn, you have to get beyond simple, you have to get to the complex, and how in a complex situation do you create simple photographs. Now if you can do that you can really create something quite special. So again, it's a busy location and you are going to photograph someone you admire or respect. How then do I want you to approach the shoot? Before you do the shoot, I want you to pre-visualize it and I want you to do so with your sketchbook.

Set your camera down, pull out a page in a sketchbook, or just a scratch piece of paper. Draw out few rectangles, some vertical, some horizontal, and then fill the frame with that subject in that context. Now there is a lot of debate about pre- visualization. I mentioned this before. Some people say you shouldn't do it, you should just be completely spontaneous. Other people are really meticulous. Well, here I want you to try it out. Most of us haven't done this, and it's helpful to sketch out your ideas, how big is the subject in the frame.

And then as you shoot, keep in mind that although you have these pre-visualized sketches, these are acting almost like a roadmap. They are not something you have to follow exactly, but they're more of a guide. Hey, let's go in this direction. You always want to remember that when you're creating photographs, they are not small problems to be solved, but rather mysteries to be explored. You get on those locations, say, okay, well, how can I tell that one story? How that cheat sheet, that previsualization sketch with you.

How can I create this? I have drawn it out. How do I make that a reality here? And I think by taking some time to think about the type of shots that you want to create, it can help clarify your vision, and many times what happens at least to me is when I get into a location, I have a story or an idea in mind, but I get distracted. They say something, I say something, something happens, someone runs by, all these things are going on. And again I lose a little bit of my vision, but I found that pre-visualization helps me out.

It helps me bring back my vision to the shoot. So I can create those images that have intent, that have purpose, that have depth.

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