Monday mornings are usually dreaded, most of the time with indisposed ideas and foggy eyes. However, on this foggy morning in Santa Cruz our four photographers set off on a portrait photography adventure around the Beach Boardwalk and Municipal Wharf. I was lucky to have twins Rusty (R) and Kris (K), and the beautiful Mia (aka Mimi), along as my professional models, giving ample practice to each attendee!
With this portrait workshop, I like to focus on model interaction/posing as well as background selection by sharing how I see the world and why I choose certain spaces for certain subjects. I briefly covered the basics of the exposure triangle and made sure everyone was comfortable with their camera settings and we made our way down towards the roller-coasters, to the first stop. Right outside of the main entrance, there are years of landscaping and vegetation growing along with beautifully painted murals a perfect starting point to say hello to our models with a snap!
I saved the flowers, pinks and purples for Mimi as we started with posing. R perched casually on a railing, which made for perfect candids... until he spotted us making pics! Eye contact was just as nice, and we ventured inside the cleared and closed amusement park.
The architecture of the rolled down doors to the all of the games create perfect "frame within a frame" shot, while I was stressing the importance of variety, the coastal fog was clearing up, as if I made a phone call. I was excited to head out to the shore - we were able to get some shots with both hazy and bright sun light.
Typically, I try to avoid shooting in bright sun because if creates harsh and contrasting shadows across the scene, sometimes distracting from a portrait. Living in California, we are blessed with beautiful weather and sunshine, which in turn makes for vibrant colors and happy faces :)
When I am out with a client, I have a mental checklist for poses and props, being sure to capture candids as well as making them feel comfortable and natural, so in turn, hopefully, they will purchase more prints of digital files. On our shoot this past Monday, I brought a beach umbrella and borrowed my boyfriend’s surfboard, allowing me to check off the prop shot! We all got a super cute shot of Mimi posed on top of the board w/ R and K holding the ends for a unique group shot off the list as well!
We ended up at the wharf and the sun was coming down strong, making a beautiful glow around the developed pilings- I pointed out that light was coming in from each side, causing such an effect! The vertical logs created a strong sense in each photograph, and was the perfect background for male figures, while Mimi stood in the breaking waves, twirling and frolicking, making for fantastically flirty images. We ended with each student having private time with each model, to practice directing, posing and observing light source... I was observing so many fantastic images on the backs of the LCD screens, I couldn’t wait to get back to the Aperture Academy gallery and start the production side of the workshop!
I decided to split the day in to two different sections, to allow time for a break and lunch in between. Upon arriving to the gallery, I met my fellow photographers to cover image production and teach them about my workflow as well as my editing style. I am a firm believer in the processing of images (we have been manipulating images from the beginning of photography) dodging and burning, snipping negatives and splicing different scenes together. We are achieving the same concept now, but there is more to do now, with the advancement of technology!
Lightroom is a fantastic program, for both cataloging and image production because it is all inclusive- meaning photographers can store and edit images all in one place! Keeping it effective, yet simple- we filtered through our images, giving high ratings to our favorites and dismissing the blinks and underexposed. It’s always hard when you have so many great shots, to choose between one or another -- but it is important to consolidate a shoot so your client doesn’t feel over whelmed looking at them! Also, you don’t want to give them too many choices, but more variety! My favorite tip when I have two images that are amazing, but also vey similar is to switch one of them to black and white!
Everyone shot well over 200 images during the session and dwindled our way down to our top roll (24-36 images) and then again, to our top 5, and lastly, our favorite shot which we had time to print! I really enjoy teaching this workshop because I get to show my peers a day in the life: from shooting all the way through to the print. It was an all inclusive day with an all inclusive workshop -- it was a Monday to look forward to!
Thank you for coming out to shoot with me!
Until next time,
Alicia, and the rest of the Aperture Academy staff
If you'd like to join us at one of our workshops, you can find the schedule/sign up here.