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In the Narrative Portraiture series, photographer and teacher Chris Orwig explores how to use location and natural light to create images that tell stories about their subjects and produce a strong emotional connection.
In this installment, Chris travels to Texas to visit with Keith Carter, a fine art photographer and teacher, and has a conversation with Keith about his work, outlook on art and photography, and suggestion that photographers commit at least two years to a personal project.
The course continues with a pair of portrait shoots. Keith photographs Chris and describes his process and creative decisions along the way. Then the cameras are swapped and Chris creates a portrait of Keith.
Finally, Chris reviews the photography he took, and discusses the gear he used and the lessons he learned while visiting with and photographing Keith.
One of the things that I've discovered about portraiture is that it's incredibly important to connect with your subject. It's about listening, noticing those small details. It's about asking questions. In essence, it's a little bit like conversation. So often when you have a conversation with someone, sometimes the best questions, they are the hardest to ask, but they are almost always worth it. It's about crossing perhaps that awkward threshold and digging a little bit deeper. So often as photographers we're comfortable hiding behind our cameras.
There is a certain comfort there that we like and enjoy. But I find it's almost always worth it to set the camera down, to look someone in the eyes and just talk, and try to make that connection. And as I talked with Keith, I realized that he is really gifted at that. He is gifted at making those connections. One of the reasons why I think his photography is so strong is because of that. My hope in reflecting upon our conversation is that it gives you a few ideas, a little bit of insight into what connected with me.
Yet, more important is perhaps your own ideas. Now, here is what I encourage you to do. As you watch or re-watch this content, pull out a journal or a scratch piece of paper and write down some of the ideas or thoughts that strike a chord with you, so that you can integrate those into your own photographic workflow.
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