On Saturday I attended a Julia Dean Workshop titled Crafting the Portrait. The instructor was Mark Edward Harris, an accomplished photographer whos work has appeared in publications such as Life, Harper’s Bazaar, and Playboy. The class was very small, just four students, the instructor, and an assistant. After some classroom time in the morning and a short while doing portraits of each other outside, we were sent off to do “environmental portraits” of whomever we could find in downtown Oceanside. An environmental portrait is a portrait in which the subject is shown in their “natural” environment to show something about their life. I was not very happy with my environmental portrait so I will not post any here, but some other students made some great ones which was nice to see. I’d like to try some of those again soon.
That afternoon was our time to work with the model, and her friend who ended up doing some modeling for us as well (along with her Chihuahua, Batman). This was fun, and I am happy with what I was able to capture in the few frames I took (a dozen or less of each of these setups). For this first shot, an intentionally overexposed split-tone, I had a clear idea of what I was trying to achieve, having nabbed the idea from my folder of “inspiration” images.
It was great to be able to have an idea in my head and be able to execute against it, successfully and with little trouble. Having lots of equipment, assistants, and an instructor at hand don’t hurt of course, but I think I can also do this same shot with what I have at my disposal at home. This next shot is with a lighting setup that I had not played with before.
High and to the left is a grid spot light illuminating the model, and off to the left of the red background is another focused light, creating the isolated bright red area. This creates a much more dramatic image than the big soft boxes, of course. I had her put on the glasses because I think they make the photo.
Sarah and Batman
If I had more time I would have worked this setup more to get an image that I really like, but I’m happy with what I got given the time constraint. Overall, the workshop was valuable. I picked up a few more nuggest of information, met some great people, and perhaps most importantly it inspired me to really start playing with my lights more and creating new images.
This is going to be fun :)