I was told that I have a very classic portrait photography style; how true is that? I will leave it to the viewers to decide, as I believe art is very subjective and sometime down the road you will further develop your style or a change of style altogether. As long as you like it, it’s good enough. Photography is supposed to be fun and a means to express yourself.
My portrait style core focus is on the subject’s expressions and emotions; on the eyes, lips, facial contours, hands, legs, and body language. On the ability to bring it out with real feelings and emotions, to portray out what the character is feeling and what they would do in a particular script or version (cosplay-wise). Pose and portray like you really mean to, as photographers can usually feel if one is doing it half-heartedly or is doing his/her best. It does make a big difference in the outcome of the photo.
Of course, both the art direction from the photographer and the relationship with the subject are equally important for the end result of the photo. Therefore, the ability to communicate well with the subject is definitely a plus. For example, during the pre-shoot, discussing about what both sides want to achieve or attempt in the shoot, or learning and understanding more about the series and character the cosplayer is going to portray, along with the pros and cons for both photographer and cosplayer. It’s like a learning process, building a relationship, gaining mutual trust, and, sometimes, making compromises, because no one is perfect.
Light – This is one of the most important aspects in portrait photography; the ability to read the light, the power of the light, and the warmth of the light. How strong or how dim do you want the light to be? Fully balanced on the model? Half? Partially? There’s no right or wrong answer, it all depends on how you envision your image. Just experiment and try to achieve the image you had in mind. Generally, my favorite kind of light is the early morning soft light, and the evening golden light – or, in short, what they call the “Golden Hour”.
Other traits of my portrait photography style consist of fitting into a harmonious background for the overall photo mood, and, to a certain extent, of looking to achieve a vacuum/spiraling effect and patterns that will “suck” the viewer into the photo.
Currently I’m attempting to do more of a “movie poster” kind of shot, dynamic, of impact, and “WHAM!” in your face shots. I find it very interesting and fun to try it out!
This is usually the case for most of my outdoor shoots, as I prefer working with natural light, especially on a day with good weather, and nice soft light with blue sky.
It will be easier and with less manpower options to shoot, since we are primarily working with the sunlight and the surroundings.
Which is a good thing, as you can spare yourself the extra weight and equipment you need to bring, and, of course, the costs of your overall equipment.
But I almost always work with a reflector if I’m shooting in this scenario, to fill in for the subject’s face when I’m shooting with side or back lighting, to eliminate ugly shadows or to manipulate the amount of light I want. (The reflector also doubles up as a huge fan + umbrella, too; trust me, the models love it!).
Though I don’t really use lights in my shoots, I do have some experience working with them, from using cheap supermarket LED torchlights, to professional video LED lights, and even candles in one of my shoots.
Artificial lighting is almost a must if you want to do a night shoot, or a specific kind of shoot in other situations.
But the ability to shoot at night or in dark places is a huge plus, as it is possible to get the similar feel to a certain series or to a character which is depicted in a night or dark scene. And it is also possible to incorporate vibrant colors, from cityscapes, streets, moonlight, to ambience light from the surroundings, which makes it an interesting factor to the image.
With all the good things and flexibility to play with, good lights don’t come cheap or light-weight (with all the accessories and setup) in any form (speedlights, strobes, or LED lights), and one also needs light stands or tripods to mount them onto.
The extra weight to transport all of them is also another big factor to consider, especially if you are using decent strobes and LED lights.
I will present some camera equipment, specifically for portrait usage.
For beginners and those on a budget, the following lens choices are a good and affordable add to your arsenal (assuming you already have a kit-lens) for most of your portrait range usage.
I will be discussing mainly on prime lens, which I consider to have a great value, good image quality, light weight, and big aperture. The pro quality f/2.8 zoom lenses (14-24/16-35, 24-70, 70-200), which come at a much higher price range than those I’m going to recommend, are heavier, and still lose a stop or more of aperture compared to the prime counterparts.
As for portrait photo-shoots, you have the time to change the lenses and the space to move in order to “zoom”; well, in most situations you can.
(Recommendation made for Nikon and Canon users, but I believe most manufacturers do have this range of lenses, or at least with similar focal length)
Below, there are some recommendations for those who prefer ultra wide angle lens, or want something wider than their kit lens. But this is where most lenses in this range start to get pricey, so I will recommend some mid-range priced ultra wide lens (that still produce good results nonetheless) in this category.
But for those who know exactly what they want or/and can afford, go ahead and get the pro grade lens; it’s a one off buy and most likely they will not let you down. Of course I’m speaking of those f/2.8 zoom lenses, and f/1.2, f/1.4, f/2 prime lenses.
Remember, these are only guidelines; just follow your heart and do what you feel is right.
Get your basics and fundamentals down, go out to shoot and experiment more, and develop your own style.
Lastly, have fun shooting!