Portrait Photography - TRADE SECRETS and Finding YOUR Unique Style | Hillary Craig | Skillshare

Portrait Photography - TRADE SECRETS and Finding YOUR Unique Style

Hillary Craig, Capture. Create. Explore.

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7 Lessons (36m)
    • 1. Portrait Photography: Trade Secrets - What to Expect

      3:02
    • 2. Camera Settings - How Your Camera Works

      6:05
    • 3. Camera Settings - Demo and Photo Comparison

      6:26
    • 4. Lighting - How to Use it to Your Advantage

      6:29
    • 5. Composition - Placement of Visual Elements

      5:57
    • 6. Engagement - Working with Your Subject

      5:49
    • 7. Conclusion & Class Project

      2:32

About This Class

In this course you will learn simple tips and tricks professional photographers use every day to really make their portraits stand-out. These tips will be helpful to both the beginner using their first DSLR or someone that has their own business but wants to discover their Unique Style. 

This course will help develop your eye for quality portraits and give you confidence with a camera in your hand.

We will cover my personal best practices in preparing for a photoshoot:

  • Camera Settings - How your Camera Works
  • Camera Settings Demo - Maximize the Potential of your Photos
  • Lighting - How to use Light to your Advantage
  • Composition - Use of Visual Elements
  • Engagement - Working with your Subject

Within each topic we will also discuss common mistakes and how to fix them. Making these little tweaks will help you to discover your own personal shooting style, what is most visually appealing to you, and how to capture these photos every time.

Be sure to download the notes handout called Portrait Photography and the Cheat Sheet.

Participate in the Class Project (below) to better understand how you can take your photos to the next level.

I'm really excited to see what tips you find the most helpful and your excitement as you begin capturing those "Insta Worthy" photos every time! I'd love to connect on Instagram, please tag me in your photos so we can discover your style together!

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Transcripts

1. Portrait Photography: Trade Secrets - What to Expect: Hi guys, Hillary here from Hillary Craig photography and design. I have been in the business since 2013 and I'm excited to share with you today portrait photography, trade secrets and finding your unique style. What we're going to discuss today is tips and tricks professional photographers use every day to capture beautiful photos that really stand out. So we're going to go through each of our lessons. Whether it's camera settings, you could literally have a brand new DSLR. Pull it out of the box, put these settings into your camera and take beautiful photos right off the bat lighting. Learning how to manipulate the light toe work for you. Composition. It's just the placement of visual elements that helps you learn how to frame a shot and really capture the character of your subject. I'm also going to share with you engagement, specifically working with your subject, giving them direction and really capturing beautiful photos of them rather than the typical safe cheese. Look over here. I want to tell you how to take beautiful photos, and they don't even necessarily have to look at the camera, and you'll like the photo along with those things. I'm also going to share with you common mistakes people make every day and just a little tweaks you can make to really take those photos to the next level. Also, I will be giving you demos. So whenever I tell you, try this new element. I'm going to show you a little video or side by side comparison of photos to really help you drive it home and realize the difference. You can make just a little tweaks you can make to really improve your photos. I will also demo a couple different lenses for you just to tell you how they work and how they help you to capture a different aspect of your subject. This is my 24 to 105 wide angle lens. This is my 50 millimeter fixed lens flash when and when not to use it and then all sure share with you a couple other little things that I like to use in capturing my photos and how they help. So whether you are a brand new DSLR user or you have been in the business for a little while and you want to create of brand around your style of photography, I hope that you will stick around after this course is completed and participate in our class project. It's gonna be great. It's all about discovering your unique style of photography. Be sure to download the notes section, the camera settings, cheat, cheat and lastly, the guide we're going to use for a class project in evaluating our photos. 2. Camera Settings - How Your Camera Works: portrait photography, trade secrets, camera settings. This is a big one, and it's an important one. So be sure to take notes if this is a lot of information or you can pause right here and grab your camera so that you can put these studies directly into your camera. So the next time you head out to shoot, you're ready to go in your triangle that you have that is your highest. So your sender speed and your aperture All these things work together to add light or take away light to your photo. I s O is the sun on When it does is it digitally magnifies the sun that's coming into your photo. The ideal I eso is as low a number as possible. So 100 to 1600 is kind of the happy range for I s o the higher the number. If you get up to 3200 plus you start adding noise or grain to your photo. It starts getting pixelated and it's not nearly as pretty. The way too to bring the lineup is how long your shudder is goingto be open. So this right here is your shudder and what this does is it tells your camera how long it needs to expose your photo. So watch how fast this shutter will release. This is four nice and slow. This is 40 way, way faster. That is how you will freeze action. If you're working and low light and your shudder has to be open for a while, you're gonna want to use a try pond, because otherwise your photos are gonna end up being blurry and you're gonna lose the crispness of your photos. So you want your shudder to release and be as quick as you can so that you can grab the light without it being blurry. Aperture is how wide open your lens will be. The more wide open your lenses, the more light is going to come through. But what this also does is create a shallow depth of field so that what's in focus is just gonna be right here on their I and maybe even the back of their head, and everything behind them becomes blurry. Now that makes beautiful artistic photos. It's one of my absolute favorite ways to shoot photos, but you need to keep in mind if you're shooting a group of people. Then what you need to do is focus on the people in the front. Row up your aperture two F 16 and that's going to help everything else. Everyone else be in focused so that you're having a more broad depth of field. A couple other settings that I think are really important to input into your camera will be this guy. Selective focus. Move around the little thought that you have that will be your focus point. You're going to place that little dot on someone's eye when you're taking photos, and that's going to make that the sharpest point in your photo. This is where you tell the viewer where to look. Whatever the most crisp part of your photo is is where the viewer wants to look. So make sure that if you're doing portrait that is on there, I the next setting is called a I servo big flashing lights. This is super important. If you're photographing Children, you want to put the setting into your camera, called a by Serbo. What that does is it allows your camera to continually focus so as you're moving around taking pictures and your subject is just bouncing around, having fun and they stepped back half a foot. You've got that shallow depth of field in your camera. So all the sudden there, completely blurry. Ai servo. The way it works is you have press and you focus just like any other camera. But the cool thing is, if you keep your half press, you can continually focus. So you just keep that dog on there. I and you. Focus, focus, focus, focus, Focus. So when you get that very thoughtful look on their face, you capture it. So you are ready when it's there, and the last sitting would be continuous. So you want your camera to be able to continually snap pictures over and over. If I hold this down, is gonna shoot, shoot, shoot. This is specifically four Children. I mean, I always leave the studies in my camera all the time, regardless of who I'm shooting. But where it makes the biggest difference is when you're photographing Children because they're fast and slightly unpredictable. There are a lot of things you really need to think about when you're shooting in manual milk. There are a lot of things that need adjusting in order to make sure you have the right amount of light coming into your camera. I shoot an aperture priority mode because my priority is shallow. Depth the field. I want those really blurry backgrounds because I think that's the most beautiful photo. That's my personal taste. You need to find out yours. Aperture priority mode on a cannon is a V on a Nikon. It's a now again, with this 50 millimeter lens. The aperture, the lowest it will go is 1.8. Now, the only drawback to using the 50 millimeter lens would be that you have to move around. So if you're going from a really close up shot and you have got beautiful book background now you want to get a whole body shot, you need a scoot on back. Be sure to fall along in our final projects so that we can discover together. What is your unique style and the way that you will love to shoot so that when people see a picture, they say, I know who took that 3. Camera Settings - Demo and Photo Comparison: Now let's take a look at a couple different lenses. This right here is my 24 to 105 wide angle lens. This would be my primary lens and shooting pretty much anything, whether it's wedding engagement photos, senior pictures, this is my go to lens. My second is my 50 millimeter fix. Linds, this is fantastic for detail shots and really maximizing those blurry backgrounds. This offers a very shallow depth of field because it has an aperture of 1.8, which is super wide open, where my 24 to 105 Onley goes down to a four and one of the ways you maximize that f stop. That shallow depth of field is to zoom. So you take it all the way down to 4.0, and then you zoom in as close as you can, and that's what makes your background disappear and your subject come toe life. Okay, guys, one of the first things we need to cover is your camera and how it's designed toe work. There are three major modes to your camera, which include shutter speed, aperture and I S O. And we're going to discover how those things will affect your pictures when you change them in your settings. I've set up some succulents, hear them in a photograph, because before we get to photographing people, we need to understand how are camera works? The 1st 1 we're going to discuss is shutter speed. This is how fast your shutter will open and close toe, let in light. So the faster your shudder, the darker it will be. The longer it's opened, the brighter your photo will be. Now let's see what shutter speed does to our lighting. Now let's take a look at these photos side by side. The photo on the left is much darker. All you have to think about when shooting in aperture priority mode is your depth of field . So I typically shoot with the widest aperture, which is your lowest number, your smallest number. So on my 50 millimeter lens, that's 1.8 that will give me the blurry ist background, and it's beautiful. So the only thing I really have to change when I'm shooting an aperture priority mode is my I s O. So depending on the light that I have coming into my shot, I can either go up with my I s O or down download the Chiti. Yeah, No, I'd like to do a really quick study, an aperture priority mode. So specifically with the 50 millimeter lens, I have the aperture 20 on the right hand side, eight in the middle and 1.8 on the left. And you can see that the depth of field on the 1.8 is far more shallow than the other two. Look how out of focus and blurry the background is. You wouldn't even be able to tell that was another succulent. It's also such a shallow depth of field that the foreground, succulent, is also out of focus. Now let's use the 24 to 105 millimeter lens and take a look at the aperture of 14. So the photo on the right hand side is without zooming in at all. I'm just standing there taking a picture. Now I've enlarged the image in order to bring it to the same size as the other one so that we could compare them side by side. But the one on the left, I actually max out my zoom in order to blur the background so you can see the difference there. Now let's take our same lens that 24 to 105 and take our aperture all the way down the lowest. It will go for this lens to four point. Oh, now, if you look at the one on the right again, this is without zooming with my lens, but I have made the image larger to compare. The one on the left is completely zoomed, maxed out zoom so you can see even the foreground on this succulent is out of focus, and the background is nice and soft and blurry. Now let's look at our aperture. 24 to 105 14 and four both zoomed. Look at the big difference. The aperture makes going from a very small aperture of 14 to a very large, wide open aperture of four. That background on the right is far blurrier and far prettier for pictures. Now let's really take it to the next level and compare our 50 millimeter F 1.8 aperture to our 24 to 1054 with the zoom. As you can see, that 1.8 iss still better than the 4.0, that's what makes the 50 millimeter perfect for those really nice detail shots. This is what I typically use for rings at a wedding. Now, I really want you to learn to trust your equipment. And if you have those settings in there, you take a test shot. The light looks good. You can keep shooting in those modes right where you are without changing anything and without having to look at every single photo until you move. If you change, push it positions to where you have more light coming into your photo. Then you will need to make adjustments and either drop your i s o down or up if it's a darker situation. Ah, lot of times your background can be a lot brighter than it was a second ago just because the sun has moved. So just keep that in mind if if you're moving your angle or the sun is moving, you need to look every once in a while it your photos just to make sure your lighting looks good and you don't need to make any adjustments. You want to do your best to get the shot right in your camera, and then when you go into post processing, it's much easier to make minimal adjustments to finish your product and get your photos out . Share clients. 4. Lighting - How to Use it to Your Advantage: Okay, let's talk lighting now. Good lighting can make or break your photos, so it's very important that you understand how light works and how to manipulate it. The best type of lighting is natural lighting. This is just light that comes from the sun. The ideal time of day for accessing this light source is going to be the golden hours. The golden hours are an hour and 1/2 after sunrise and an hour and 1/2 before sunset. If you are not shooting during the golden hours, I highly recommend using indirect light. The best way to achieve indirect light is to use the shade or a diffuser. A diffuser works really well and what it does. It takes the light, and it kind of bounces it out everywhere else so that it's never hitting directly on your subject. Let's talk for a second about using indirect light n doors. Place your subject facing a large window where nice, soft, ambient light is coming in, and this is a great way to achieve nice soft lighting on your subject. This is my favorite way to photograph newborns or very small Children. This is one of the things I really enjoyed doing specifically for, like, wedding photography. I'd love to put the bride right next to a window where we get that really soft, like coming in, and it just really compliments her features. The next trade secret I want to discuss with you is when to use your flash and how to use your flash when you are taking photos indoors and it's really dark and you know you need a flash to really help the light come through and to capture the photo without it being grainy, use your flash. But here's the trick. You face it at the ceiling and you bounce light off of the ceiling so that it scatters throughout the room to light up everything instead of having a really harsh dark shadow behind your subject. The next trade secret I want to discuss with you is backlight. And how do you use back like now if you just put a person in front of a strong light source So you've got the sun coming through a tree and it's really pretty, and you back your subject up to where the lights just barely coming through and it hits the woman's hair and it gives for this little halo and it's beautiful. But if you take the shot like that, you're going to get a silhouette, which is great. And it has its place, those air, very artistic photos. I love them. But if you actually want to get the features of this person, then you need to use a fill flash. What you're gonna dio is you're going to set up the flash on your camera. You do not need it to be super bright. It's just a little pump of light. And you will have to change some settings in your camera so that the where your light source is coming from, where the sun is shining through that that doesn't get completely blown out in the picture . So you want to drop your I s o down as low as you can. Another thing you can dio when using a fill flash so you minimize lens flare with that come across the picture when you're shooting into the sun is to use a lens hood. Now, sometimes again, this is another artistic style photo, and people have really been drawn to the lens flare look. But if that is not your goal. Try to avoid it with the Linds Hood. So in using the pill flash, you're going to get a very beautiful photo. Nice lighting halo on the back of the hair, and then you're going to still be able to see all the features and details of the person's face. I love it. It's one of my favorites. Take a look at a couple photos here where I've used this process. A few common mistakes I see with lighting are facing your subject directly into the sun to get nice light on their face. But then you get them squinting and making a very unnatural face while you're trying to photograph them. There are two exceptions to this rule. One is if you are shooting in the golden hours and the sun's about to set or the sun is just rising, so it's not super harsh. Then you can face them into the sun, and it actually gives a nice, dreamy effect to your photos. So that's the 1st 1 The 2nd 1 is if it is unavoidable. So what you do in that case is you get everybody lined up and you tell them to close our eyes and you count and you say on the count of three, open your eyes. If at all possible, avoid having them face the sun. The second most common mistake would be placing your subject in the shade in scattered light. Now let's take a look at these two photos, side by side, specifically about lighting and nothing else. The photo on the left is softly lit and everything looks nice and complementary. Where, on the right hand side, you see AH, lot of scattered light throughout the picture, specifically leaving hot spots on the forehead, nose and cheek and chest, and then leaving dark shadows in the eyes. That's something we really want to avoid. Here's a little video to help you figure out the best way to avoid scattered light. Look at the ground where you see a solid shadow that's gonna be your best place to take photos so that you don't have that scattered light from the sun coming through the branches behind you. 5. Composition - Placement of Visual Elements: Okay, guys, welcome back to the next section called Composition. This simply means the placement of visual elements. One of the most common mistakes I see people making in photographing, especially small Children, is to stand in their normal posture standing upright, taking a photo of the child. So what you're doing with standing upright taking a photo of a child is you're making them look really small. So your perspective in your photograph is coming down at them. So what, you want to dio to bring the child toe life to really make it a beautiful photo? And the most easy fix of all is just to get on eye level with them squatting down to their height. Just their personality is going to come out in these photos. The next tip is to fill the frame now filling the frame commune, a couple different things. You can fill the frame with their whole body or you can feel the frame shoulders up. One of the ways you're going to take your photo to the next level is if you get in really close. Another common mistake I see people make all the time is to place a child almost in a bush because the Bush is really pretty, and it makes for a nice element for a photo. That's great. But where the mistake lies is making your Bush just important as the child. So when you do that, you have conflicting images, and people aren't sure where to look. Do I look at the bush? Oh, that's really pretty. Do I look at the child? Oh, how cute. Now one of the ways to use the bush but not make it The subject of your photo is to pull the child out from the bush, just a tiny bit. Focus on the child and allow that Bush to become just a pretty accent to the photo. One of the things you really want to be aware of in photographing any subject, whether it's a child, senior photos, engagement photos No matter the subject, you have to simplify the background. What that means is make sure that there's no odd things behind them. Be sure you take your photo at a specific angle so that these things either do not show up or zoom in and use your aperture priority mode to make them disappear by really blurring out the background. No. One of the ways you achieve this book background, which is amazing to take your camera and put it in aperture priority mode. You want your aperture as wide open as possible. That means you have a very, very small number. So as low as your F stop number will go, is how wide open your app a tree is and the wider the aperture, the more shallow depth of field you're going to get now. This is where this is what I would call the best trade secret of all time, using aperture priority mode, focusing in on their eyes and letting the background go broke. So you get that really sparkly spotted out of focus background and all you really see is how beautiful their eyes are, the definition in their face. This will take your photos to the next level. The next topic I would like to talk about in composition is called the Rule of Thirds. Here's your grid for your rule of thirds. You want your subject tow line up on one of these cross points. The fence is joining your eye away and the light the light gets brighter as you move away from the couple, so what you're doing is you're drawing the person's. I threw the photo, and that makes for a very interesting and very appealing photo. Another way you can use Ah, wall or a bush or tree. Anything to add interest to your photo is to take your photo at an angle. So instead of facing directly on your subject and they're standing in front of offense, you get this flat fence behind them or, ah, Bush right behind them, move them to the side and make it kind of disappear out into the background. What that's going to Dio is draw the person's. I threw the photo, so you're going to see your beautiful subject, and then you're going to be drawn through the photo. And it just is one of those photos that you want to look at a little bit longer and your it's interesting and you want to see why is this picture so good? And you start to analyze? How did they do that? Um, that's what you want to do for your viewer. You want to add interest to where it makes them linger on a photo a little bit longer now. The last thing in composition I want to remind you is don't forget about the details. Portrait photography is not only about faces. Don't forget about hands, hands or one of my favorite things to photograph. They just tell you a little bit more about the person and who they are, how softer their hands, how rough our their hands, how fragile our their hands, how beautiful you can make these photos. These are the types of photos, and you would find for art pieces on your wall. Photography is all about the details, so don't forget to make one specific part of your photo pop, and the rest just adds interest and value to your photo. 6. Engagement - Working with Your Subject: Okay, guys, this is our final section called Engagement. What this means specifically is working with your subject. Candid photos are my favorite. I love photographing the more natural photos you really capture who the subject is for. Senior photos, engagement photos, wedding photos. When you're working with adults, they already know how to smile and look pleasant and photos. I really enjoy giving them something to do. I will tell them in a an engagement shoot. Um, have a little conversation and then I step back and I try to take a couple shots like that or I'll give them something to Dio. One of my favorite things to Dio is called The Almost Kiss, and it's literally having your couple come in. Maybe have there noses touching a little bit to one side or the other. They come in and they don't even have to purse their lips. We just come in and their lips or maybe like an inch away from each other. And oh my gosh, the prettiest picture. One of the most common mistakes I see specifically with engagement is telling your subject to say cheese again. This is very important when you're working with Children. You're going to get super cheesy frozen smiles if you tell them to save cheese or say smile , Or sometimes you'll have a parent say, I want to see P Well, the best way to get beautiful photos and natural looking photos is toe. Have a conversation with them now. Occasionally you'll get a child that like freezes because they're not supposed to talk. They're having their picture taken. So they either will say a couple words and mingle or they will not talk at all. And they they're not sure what to do. Why are you talking to me? I'm supposed to be taking pictures. Tell them it's OK. The answer. I love to ask them questions about themselves. I asked them, What's your favorite color? What's your favorite dessert? What is your favorite thing to Dio? Do you like books? What's your favorite book in making them think about the answer. You're either going to get a smile cause they think about chocolate chip cookies and how their their favorite and they get excited or you're going to get the thoughtful glances so they're gonna maybe look up and think for a second about food. What is my favorite. And those are justice pretty and justice captivating in a photo as just a beautiful, smiling picture. Another way to engage your subject is to give them directions I love in every family photo showed that I dio I try to get a walking photo. Now if you have kids, that they're really excited and you can tell that they're kind of uncomfortable with the camera on them. One of my favorite things to do is give them something to Dio. And if there's more than one child Ah, lot of times I will have them race. Saul set them up in the line. I'll tell them the rules, I say, OK, on the count of three, you're going to run and I give them a spot And I say you're gonna run to that shadow or that tree or whatever it is. And I say you run there and then stop and then we're gonna regroup and you're gonna race back to me. And these could be some of the most fun pictures because you're going to get smiles. They're racing, they're having fun. They're just great great pictures and some of my favorite you give them direction. Something specific they can dio that doesn't have them focusing on Oh, my gosh. I've got a camera on me. Always give positive feedback. I don't care who your subject is. If you take a great photo, tell them that turned out really good. You want to see it, show them the photo and that boost their confidence and then they feel a little bit better being behind the camera. If you're working with really little kids, here's a couple ways I get their attention. Toddlers can be the hardest to photograph because their attention span is this big. And they're not at the age where you can communicate with them. Really? Well, um, they may not know what their favorite food is. Our favorite dessert is, Or maybe they won't be able to say it. Um, so one of the things I do for little little kids, I use what's called a lens. Buddy. This guy is for my 24 to 105 lens. This little guy is for my 50 millimeter, so I can put these on my lenses. And if they're really little, I can say, Hey, have you seen this guy before? Is this the hungry little caterpillar? Him? What did he eat for breakfast today? Or do you see that silly worm pumping out of the apple? This works great for little Children, and the last thing would be either a little noisemaker or something to get their attention specifically with again very small Children like toddlers. I have even taken like a little dog squeaky toy and squeaked it to get their attention. And that works. Another thing you can do is have on hand a couple of small toys that are pretty so maybe some something that's wooden or like a wooden rattle that won't really distract in your photos. But it's something for the child to play with that can help them to get through the process without having a really hard time. 7. Conclusion & Class Project: Okay, guys, this just about brings us to the end of our time together. And I just want to encourage you in this process of learning photography. It takes a lot of patience and a lot of practice, and I know no one likes to hear that, but I can guarantee if you put the time into a learning and going out taking photos, analyzing these photos, seeing how you can improve them, finding a process that works for you and following through that process to discover your specific style of shooting is going to benefit you. In the long run, you will create a look people are familiar with. Ah, look, people will begin to expect from you, and it will take your photography business to the next level. I hope that you will stick around and participate in the class project. There are two handouts for a class project. One is called style. That's for those of you business minded people that want to better understand your style of shooting and how to develop it. And the one called Personal is for those of you just wanting to improve your overall photography skills. And don't forget if you haven't done already to download the cheat sheet. You're going to take a series of photos that you have shot using the tips from this course . And now you're going to evaluate them and you're going to look at each photo. What is it that you love specifically about? This photo? Is that the lining? Is that the composition? The way your eyes drawn through the photo, Whatever it is, I want you to figure out what about these photos really stands out to you, makes them unique to you and create a process. Write down specifically what you like about these photos, and then you're going to develop a way to take these photos. Every time you approach a photo shoot, you're going to walk through this process and you'll begin to develop your style and your brand that people will come to know you for I hope that this course has been encouraging to you and that you found some really great useful tips throughout the course. Please keep in touch through the class or on instagram. Remember, you can find me at capture dot Create dot Explore. Be sure to tag me as you discover your unique style and the way you are improving your photos. Thanks for spending this time with me. You guys. I hope that you enjoyed the course.