Why and How to Make Portraits

portait of a pretty girl and statue bust at Monsalvat, ElthamCanon 5D Mark II camera and Canon 85mm f1.8 lens. Exposure Details: 1/125 second @ f4.5 ISO 100.

I made these pics of Monique, a participant in a portrait photography workshop, under lovely, soft winter's light. I believe that it's important for a portrait photographer to be photographed as it allows them to experience the process from the other side of the camera. For this reason I always encourage folks to take their turn modelling. Experience has proven to me that most people actually quite enjoy the process and benefit from receiving copies of all the great pics other participants make of them.

Both these images of Monique were made outdoors in a park-like setting. The stone sculpture reminds me of elements from the Lord of The Rings film trilogy, of which I'm a huge fan, which is why I've incorporated it in a number of portraits I've made at this location over recent years. To me it's interesting to contrast stone and skin, hard and soft, static and mobile. The image of Monique lying on the ground allowed me to incorporate fallen autumn leaves and, thereby, explore notions of loneliness, longing and melancholy.

Black and White outdoor portrait of a pretty girl covered in autumn leavesCanon 5D Mark II camera and Canon 85mm f1.8 lens. Exposure Details: 1/160 second f4 ISO 100.I employed a Canon 5D Mark II camera and Canon 85mm f1.8 series lens for these portraits. I've owned and used the excellent Canon 85mm f1.2 L series lens previously but, frankly, got sick and tired of its weight. Photography is all about compromise. You might decide not to carry a tripod, an external flash gun or a heavy lens. Be careful not to let the notion of quality stop you from climbing that mountain and actually making the shot.

For me photography most definitely is not about notions of lens sharpness, megapixel count and the latest software app. Buy the best equipment you can afford, given the constraints associated with your area of endeavour, and concentrate on making images that explore the human condition, our natural environment and our place in this magical world.

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Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru