The Art of Portraits: Telling a Story with Gavin Hoey

When you move beyond the technique of capturing people with appropriate lighting, while maintaining a flattering expression and pose for the subject, what should you be adding or recreating in your imagery next?

The development and implementation of a story is where I believe the value of a portrait moves beyond just its aesthetic. Gavin Hoey builds on a concept from the Great Depression with the gangsters of the time in a Bonnie and Clyde styled secret portrait challenge. 

Hoey begins with the mention that he is not in charge of the styling of this portrait session but is working with the props and wardrobe in mind and begins to create a Bonnie and Clyde type session. The best part to ask yourself when watching photographers creating imagery is to ask the question why are the making certain choices whether it’s lens choice, lighting, height of the camera in relation to subject, and their settings if they provide access. One great reason why I truly enjoy Hoey photograph is because he is vocal about his choices and his videos give an honest behind the scenes look into photographing with people and props while achieving what you hope for. In the case of the video Hoey gives us some great information on using lighting on location and how to avoid having a mishap if the wind decides to try to take your soft box for a flight. 

There are several other hints that Hoey drops during the video as well specifically in regards to the additive lighting and the lens choice. Hoey mentions that he doesn’t have a neutral density filter to slow down his shutter speed for the imagery and decides to shoot at f/13 which is probably close to 1.5 to 2 stops faster than the ambient lighting in this scenario. This is helping to create a dramatic image by introducing shadows with the ambient lighting and controlling the correct exposure of the subjects with the key light. Hoey is also shooting at a fairly wide angle for these environmental portraits and whether a lens is wide open or closed down, when shooting wide with enough distance, there will be a greater amount of depth of field in the image. Simply as you go wider in your lens selection there is less of a reason to shoot with an open aperture if the only reason you would is for subject separation and by not using high speed sync, Hoey’s lighting can keep up with his shooting.

Are you trying to build and create more stories in your imagery? If so, what story are you wanting to tell?

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JT Blenker's picture

Gavin Hoey always has a great take on creating imagery.

Ivan Lantsov's picture

bad pistol they not use Luger

Motti Bembaron's picture

Nicely done!