Sunday mornings are for teaching. As I check my phone for a text message from the model, I look around the Prunyard Shopping Center, and realize it’s practically a ghost town at 7:30 in the morning. The Sun is peeking over the buildings and there’s a nice breeze blowing through the walkway. Its going to be a great day to shoot portraits. Now I know if you’ve ever been out in the direct sunlight with a friend or family member and snapped a quick photo to attempt to capture the moment. You know how difficult it can be to shoot portraits or anything in broad daylight. And that’s true for the average photographer, but that’s a perfect challenge for Elle and I. The locations we shoot in while on the Perfect Portraits and Processing workshop are designed to teach everyone how to over come the challenges of shooting outside of the optimal sunlight time frames.
Before we could teach them to over come the difficulties of photographing people in non optimal lighting conditions, or what I like to call, normal daylight. We met them inside the computer lab located at Aperture Academy Gallery, found in the Pruneyard shopping center, in Campbell, CA. Most of the students arrived early Sunday morning, all very eager and with their camera’s already in hand when walking in the doors. I knew they were stoked to take our Perfect Portraits and Processing class.
After Elle went over the exposure triangle and other tips like composition, Olivia our beautiful model from Halverson Modeling Management, arrived. After a brief interdiction we ventured out into the Prunyard cameras ready. Let the fun begin! The first location was somewhat jungle like with tall grass and large flowers that hung overhead. The first thing I like to teach is to establish a basic exposure and to start communicating with the model as soon as possible. No one likes to have a stranger point a camera in his or her face. The sooner you make that connection the better. Olivia and I have that connection already, so I encourage the students in the class to calling her by name, and to start directing her rather then having her pose. By doing so they are showing confidence and clarity helping establish that trust, breaking that camera tension that I often see in amateur portrait photography.
The class caught on fast, I kept hearing, “Olivia drop your shoulder, raise your eyes.” These words of direction are music to my ears. When I hear the confidence in my student I know that it’s a successful class. So after Elle and I walk the students and Olivia around to several of our favorite spots we call it for the shooting. And they break for lunch.
After lunch we started the last portion of the Perfect Portraits and Post, this being the post part of the workshop. Its also my favorite. Elle handed me over the laptop and I began walking everyone one through my workflow of Adobe Photoshop Light Room. These classes unlike many in the past were all very avid with Light Room, but they still wanted to get feed back on their edits and the images from the day. As I went through the steps and adjustment I recommend, Elle walked around giving feed back and helping the students choose the best images from the day.
Elle and I had a great time with this class, and Olivia was very excited to see all the new photos from the day!
Until next time,
Ajay, Ellie and the rest of the Aperture Academy team!
If you'd like to join us at one of our workshops, you can find the schedule/sign up here.