If you're starting out and you want to improve your portrait photography, or just be able to take someone's portraits, Peter McKinnon's video takes you through a quick crash course in how you can do just that. He goes through each piece of equipment and gives you an idea of what he does with his clients or friends he wants to take a portrait of. But, with gear aside, the video takes you through how props can add substance, and how to use them to get the person's personality showing. Peter discusses the strobes he uses, the Pocket Wizards, and the modifier. He also compares and discusses the difference in photo you get with strobes versus natural or ambient light.
Some of the key take-aways are:
- He spends a lot of his time in front of a camera, but generally, people are very fearful and standing in front of a lens can be intimidating, especially if the person's not in the creative industry. Have a way to make them feel comfortable. Props gives them something to do and draws their attention off of themselves. Humor is also a fantastic tension-breaker.
- Strobes make images sharper, so your pictures will be of higher quality when you use them rather than using ambient or natural light. They are expensive, but the Alien Bees strobes he uses are of the cheaper versions and does what he requires them for.
- Try to get the person's character and personality to come to the forefront. Props help with this a lot, but if you know the person, make sure you convey a certain aspect of them when shooting. In his examples he shows how he's used a chair, or something that he knows the person likes or does for a living. In my opinion, capturing the character is the key to a great portrait and will define your style and skill as portrait photographer.
- His last bit of advice is to shoot as much as possible. Practice. It's the only way you can improve and learn.
Peter certainly has a way of explaining something in a very simple way, and you never feel stupid for not knowing something and ten times smarter for watching his videos. I will certainly follow his advice and try to up my portraiture game in the coming weeks.