I'll preface this by saying that I am in no way bashing the Instagram community, other photographers, or their style. I got to be curious about why these Instagram portrait photographers were gaining such popularity. If you search any of the various Instagram "superhubs," you'll see this style crowding the pages. Once deconstructed, there isn't much to the look that has exploded across social media in the last year. Though there isn't much to it, there is certainly some work involved. It's not always as simple as a few sliders in the Instagram editor.
That title might sound a little bit backwards to most of you, but it is not. I know many professionals feel you shouldn't do any photography for free, especially after you have worked your tail off to get to a point where people will pay you to make images. However, even as a full time professional photographer, I actually do a lot of free work. But I do it only on my owns terms, and do turn down many offers.
Style is one of the most important aspects of fashion photography. Having a consistent portfolio of images that reflects who you are and your creative vision is really important when it comes to clients viewing your work. Many fashion photographers, including myself, have struggled with making their work stand out from the crowd. Here are a few tips from what I have learned about finding your style and visual voice as a photographer.
A beauty dish can be extremely versatile if you learn how to control the way it modifies light. Most photographers simply use beauty dishes to light the face, but you can use it to light full length photos if you know how to position the light correctly. In this video, I’ll demonstrate three ways to use a beauty dish for beauty and fashion photography.
I have always preferred simplicity when it comes to lighting portraits. When connecting with a model or subject, especially when working without assistants, I hate having to deal with several lights or various flags, cutters, and bounce cards. This way I can work the camera and move around without having to worry about tripping over my whole setup, and my subject feels more comfortable without obtrusive equipment crowding them. Also, if the model can move around a little, I feel that I can get far more natural poses when they aren't confined by specific lighting. My favorite lighting tool to "keep it simple" with is the Westcott 7-foot Parabolic Umbrella.
Have you ever opened an old drawer and found an old picture of yourself, only to discover how funny you looked back then and how many insecurities you had? Merilee and her friend were remembering their teenage years. The conversation took them to the point where her friend wasn’t convinced that Merilee had any awkward years back then. This wasn’t true.
One of the best things a portrait photographer can do is learn how to master a single off-camera light. Most photo shoots don’t allow enough time to set up multiple lights, and when shooting on location, carrying more than one light can be too cumbersome to manage. In this video, we see a very useful way to use one off-camera flash with some simple modifiers to create a dramatic portrait.
As artists, we have all been there. The creative rut. The most fatiguing part of being an artist and perhaps the downfall of many talented individuals who could not climb out of it. Creativity comes from many places within us all. However when a photographer's passion is absorbed by the repetition of what we specialize in, the outcome of the work becomes all too grueling to look at. So how do we get back to the love of what we do? How do we fuel once more the passion that showcases our work as new and creative?
A couple of years ago, I came across a portrait of a sad owl under the rain on 500px. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. I never knew there existed such a deep photograph of a non-human creature. I was not the only one thinking so. That picture had won an award and I discovered Shamma Esoof (Sham Jolimie), a person who advocates for animal welfare, social justice, and is passionate about nature conservation. The cherry on top was when I discovered that the author of that unforgettable owl portrait was a mutual friend on social media and was from Mauritius, a country I call my second home after Armenia.
There is a tiny island in the Indian Ocean called Mauritius that reminds me of heaven. When my husband and I got a job offer to work there some years ago, I had no idea I would meet this amazing soul that was Khatleen Minerve. Eventually, she turned into a very talented and requested photographer.
Highlights that glow can be a great way to give your portraits and beauty work some pop, but there is a fine line between skin looking dewy and just straight oily. Shiny skin can be overwhelming to an image, but when faced with that problem you don't have to scrap the shot. In this quick video, photographer Joe Edelman shows us a quick and easy fix for controlling that shiny skin using Photoshop.
Beauty and fashion retouching has been controversial for so long that some of the argument's ground has been conceded. For example, skin retouching is rarely debated anymore and it's merely a "given" that someone in an advert or magazine will have had their skin corrected. However, criticizing body manipulation in Photoshop is very much still in vogue (if you'll excuse that glorious pun).
It goes without saying that creating a comfortable, safe environment while shooting beauty photography can go a long way towards building a strong working relationship with your model. Comfortable, however, is what I'd define as the "barrier to entry." What you really want to do is go beyond that by giving your model a slight boost in confidence. By building up the model's self-esteem you get her thinking positively, and that state of mind leads to fantastic moments which create a genuine spark of expression.