June 14, 2016

Can You See the Difference? | Saratoga Senior Portraits

Senior Portraits Saratoga
I love this image of Gillian. I used off camera strobe for a dramatic image here.

I have done a lot of Senior Portraits over the years–I really enjoy it.  It is fun to work with high school kids, and they let me be creative.  Sometimes people don’t quite get what I do though.  Many times, people are used to the typical school portraits and don’t even know what real portrait photography is or why anyone would want to pay for it.  I look at it like this–I want to do something for my clients that they really can’t get from the typical school portrait.  You know, the line them up and shoot them thing.  That is not what I am about.  My kids used to get mad at me because I would never buy the school pictures.  Mostly because they did not really say anything about who my kids were.  The backgrounds were tacky.  And partly because their hair was never right or they had some goofy expression.  Because the photographer did not have time to do it right.  That is what volume photography is–do it quickly and don’t worry about the details.  Just quick and dirty.  It was never anything I would want to put on my walls.

So anyway, I was photographing a lovely young woman last week and was testing my lights.  And I had this brain wave when I was going through the pictures.  Many times people will say to me, “Wow, great picture!  You must have a really great camera!”  I smile and nod.  Because it really isn’t about the camera.  It is about posing, lighting and composition.  I have spent a lot of time and continue to spend a lot of time learning about these things.  And these two pictures say it all.

Senior Portraits Saratoga
The image on the left was the image where I was testing my settings.

We were at Yaddo at the perfect time of day, the hour before sunset.  However, I really, really wanted to use the rose arbor, but the lighting was not all that fabulous.  I knew I wanted to use the columns as leading lines and to have perspective in the composition. I had this lovely girl, the dress was amazing, and the location was perfect.    I knew if I used off camera strobe, it would be perfect.  Without the strobe, she would have raccoon eyes, the color would be kind of yucky–just not the fabulous image it could be.  (Side note–the strobe needs to be OFF the camera.  You want directional light.  Kind of wishing I had done an image with the strobe on the camera to illustrate the difference.)  So once I had the lighting set, I posed her in contraposto, body angled, brought her face back toward the light and voila!  She looks AMAZING!  I think this is what professional portrait photography is really all about.  You bring all these different elements of lighting, posing, and composition together to make your subject look incredible.  It really does not matter what camera you use.  If you could figure out a way to do off camera flash with an iPhone, you could probably do this.  Anyway, to me, the difference is obvious–which one do you prefer?

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