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Trying Something New

A while ago I wrote a blog post about dealing with burnout called "Getting out of a Rut", you can read it HERE. In that post I talked a lot about feeling like i was not progressing with my work, and that I was not producing the standard of material that I should be.

Through a friend I had been in contact with an MC from Reading who wanted some promotional shots for his Instagram page. To be completely honest, being someone who normally photographs the great outdoors, taking promotional shots of an MC seemed a little daunting but at the same time a great opportunity to try my hand at a totally different type of photography.

I mentioned that I would like to try out a number of creative photo ideas and he seemed cool to let me run with it, so on Friday night I went for a drive around town to try and scout some locations, and in the end settled on an old and fairly run-down car park in central Farnborough. Aside from the fact that It would be effectively empty on a Sat evening, it gave me a tonne of options to work with.

Rather than just end here and show some pictures, I thought I would talk through some of my ideas and some of the creative processes below in three key areas.

1) The location had a range of background textures that would fit an "urban" style. I wanted to avoid having every shot look the same. The subject was clear that he wanted to use the photographs for his instagram page, and as such if it was obvious that all the shots had been taken in the same location it would make for very repetitive content. The three shots below show the different types of textures that worked as backgrounds. Each one provides a totally different look, but all fit the same Urban style.

When I am out on my landscape lessons I always say to students that you have to imagine the sky is your canvass. Soft clouds and lighting will always enhance the foreground subject and similarly if you have a grey mono color sky it can totally kill an otherwise beautiful scene. For these photographs I wanted to use a whole range of different textures as backgrounds for the subject. If you look at the images below you can see that even in one location there were many distinct backgrounds that provide a texture to the images.

2) The location had had a huge range of lighting conditions,

In Landscape photography light is king. Portrait photography is no different so I really wanted to get a handful of photos that used the dynamic lighting available in the setting. The setting I chose had all sorts to play with, dark corners, harshly lit halogen bulbs, sickly yellow lights in an underpass, soft side lighting from the sunset through the entrance way all provided different opportunities for creative imagery.

The first example below borrows a lot from landscape photography in that whilst the sun was setting we had a really beautiful soft golden side-light which contrasts against the grimy and dirty industrial look on the right hand side of the image. No fill-flash was used on this shot and the right hand side of the image was slightly darkened in post-production.

The second two shots were taken by placing the subject near artificial sources of light. In the second shot, I noticed that a fading bulb was giving off a sickly yellow color which I thought would make for great portrait lighting. The third shot was taken in an underpass and a harsh white halogen bulb worked perfectly to provide low-key single directional light source in an otherwise dark environment.

Learning to see a setting in terms of light is a skill, but once you get the hand of it, even a car park turns into a creative playground for photographers.

3) The photo shoot gave me a chance to get creative with fill flash

When you have soft and/or low light, often you need to fill in the exposure with flash compensation. Typically in a photo shoot you will use this to provide a soft light to flatter and soften the skin of your subject. For this shoot it gave me the chance to be quite creative as the subject was not looking to be flattered with the lighting. I heavily overexposed the shots by one or two stops to give a really invasive and harsh look to the image. I really wanted to have harsh lines within the image as well as a very un--posed look.

I deliberately set my flash to 3 stops exposure and positioned the model very close to white walls, which I then bounced the flash off of to create an intense lighting look. As the subject is a musician, I also wanted to try and replicate the type of hard light which you often find on stage.

If you would like to check out Riders Instagram page you can find it HERE

If you would like to discuss a portrait session or photo shoot you can contact me using the form at the bottom of my homepage HERE

Thanks for Reading


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