I’m very honoured to be invited to post on Matthew’s blog, although I feel I’m maybe defacing it in some small way with less than perfect portraits!
A couple of weeks ago I assisted Matthew while he photographed Emma, Alison and Shona, three lovely girls who were thankfully very friendly, patient and obliging! It was definitely a useful experience for me, and great fun too.
It was good to learn from watching Matthew at work, seeing the effects the flash can have on the lighting, and also chatting afterwards about the kinds of things Matthew’s thinking about as he’s working.
I then had a go at taking some portraits of my own. Matthew makes it all seem so effortless, but there are so many issues to consider on the other side of the view finder, from composition, focus and depth of field to good communication with your subjects.
The main thing I found myself concentrating on was focussing and making sure the autofocus was aligned to the subject’s eyes. However this led to a common problem: I was forgetting all about aperture size, which I had set to F1.8 for most of the time, which unfortunately led to only one of the faces being perfectly sharp. For instance, I think this photo is otherwise quite good:
the background is interesting but not too detailed, the lighting is good, and the girls look relaxed and happy. Having discussed this with Matthew, using F4 or F5.6 would have made all the difference.
This next one is very similar, which is a shame because it could have been a great photo!
Anyway, the next two I’m really happy with. They’ve obviously had the benefit of Matthew’s processing, but I like to think I can take a wee bit of the credit too!
Although her eyes are closed, Emma has a lovely expression, and I’m happy with the composition and the background. And the black-and-white gives it some added drama.
This is probably my favourite. Alison looks really natural and relaxed and the background is just interesting enough, without being distracting.
There is a lot of satisfaction in having taken a shot that you’re totally pleased with, but I think with a portrait, there is an added pleasure if the subject is happy with it too. So I hope the girls like these ones, even though they’re not perfect!