Powerful Portrait Photography: Capturing Your Subject in Their Environment | Aundre Larrow | Skillshare

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Powerful Portrait Photography: Capturing Your Subject in Their Environment

teacher avatar Aundre Larrow, Photographer

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      The Power of Context


    • 3.

      Planning Your Shoot


    • 4.

      Reading the Environment


    • 5.

      Working With Your Subject


    • 6.

      Putting It All Together


    • 7.

      Capturing Details


    • 8.

      Finishing Your Project


    • 9.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

The key to powerful portraits? Bring out your subject’s personality by shooting in a place they love!

In this 50-minute class, photographer Aundre Larrow shares his unique approach to capturing portraits that tell a story, focusing on working with your subject in the context of their own environment. From a local gym to a Brooklyn bakery, Aundre takes you behind-the-scenes, sharing simple steps to capture the emotion, personality, and depth of real people in the real world!

Hands-on lessons cover:

  • Developing a creative vision that invites viewers in
  • Choosing the best location for your shoot
  • Telling your subject's story in an unexpected way
  • Shooting details and action shots to add context

Plus, Aundre shares his favorite tips and tricks for setting your subject at ease and learning what’s meaningful to them, developed over years of working with real people, celebrities, and brands.  

Whether you're shooting a roommate in their bedroom or a neighbor on their front stoop, Aundre’s accessible process will unlock a new level of creation and connection. By the end, you’ll have the confidence, skills, and vision to capture truly authentic and evocative portraits—no matter your subject!

This class is open to all levels. While no previous photography experience is necessary, some basic familiarity with lighting and shooting is useful. All you need to follow along is something that takes photos — an iPhone or DSLR both work!

Meet Your Teacher

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Aundre Larrow



On my fifteenth birthday, I got a Minolta Srt-101 film camera from my high school theater teacher, Mr. Tempest, as a gift. Within 3 months, I had blown all my money processing film filled with portraits of fast friends and loved ones. Ten years later, not much has changed.

I'm a Brooklyn-based portrait photographer and Adobe Creative Resident who has spent the last few years shooting editorial and lifestyle content for clients and personal work. My work has always pursued the truth that can be found in portraiture. 

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Level: All Levels

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1. Introduction: Photography is all about storytelling and being able to tell through multiple images that allows the viewer to learn something and not just be captured about what it looks like, but understand that they're stepping into a new world. My name Aundre Larrow, I'm a Boko based portrait photographer videographer. Today we're going to talk about how to take great environmental portraits. Environmental portraits combine portraits and the environment to provide context about the subject and that context helps us understand them better. Environmental portraits are a great opportunity to learn how to speak with a client and understand their needs because often people in the interesting environments human photograph, are people that need images. It's a nice practice and something that helps me be a better photographer over time. Like able to constantly work with people in different environments and different challenges. In today's class, we're going to talk about what it takes to make a great environmental portrait. How to do research and make a mood board, how to go in and study the room, how to make something that your subject is happy with, you're happy with as an artist, and conveys what everybody wants. Whether you're a professional photographer trying to grow your client base, or you're an aspiring photographer trying to get some more work, whether you're high-school me, that just wants to take more photos that makes sense to an environment, this class is for everyone. You don't need super fancy equipment, you just need to be able to take notes, read light and have something that takes photos. Phones definitely count. I've held you long enough. Let's just get out there and shoot. I'm trying to keep the energy up everywhere. I'm the people's champion, that's my goal. 2. The Power of Context: All right. So the slackers are gone. Thank you guys for committing to this. I didn't get you a ring or anything, but I promise this class is going to be dope. So environmental portraits, it's all about understanding how you can use contexts to take a better image. Context could be something as small as someone's car or something as large as the plant they work at, the hospital they work at, the home they live in. Just little things that you see without realizing help you form conclusions, and those conclusions can be helpful for storytelling. So if you choose to take a portrait of someone, and the home they're in is messy, that seems chaotic, then you can start to understand that they might be in an environment that doesn't give them the bandwidth to be more emotionally present. If you're taking a portrait of a scientist, and you start to step into their laboratory, just seeing the space they're working with, seeing how small things they're working on or how large they are, might give you better contexts when you're reading or learning about them. If you see a portrait of a politician, seeing them in their executive space, what it's like, or getting a preview into their days, how many constituents they meet with, all of these images help provide a context, so you can just have a better understanding. Environmental portraits are everywhere, and you don't really think about it. They are images for billboards, for movie posters. They are photos in The New York Times and National Geographic, in your local newspaper. They are all helping you gain trust and contexts for a person or understanding of a person's situation, which then allows you to form conclusions that might have you buy something, see something, commit to something, or just be aware of it. Today, we're going to be focusing on environmental portraits of small businesses. I chose that because I wanted to do something that was very accessible. Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy. Everyone says this. But what I mean by that is, especially given the digital age, they have a huge need for imagery. So while we're working along and shooting these two businesses, I hope that you can see parallels for places that you frequent, whether that's your hardware store, candy shop, even a gas station. Working with a small business, especially in your community, gives you access and the ability to practice and shoot again and again, and this is a really helpful skill for you as you grow as a photographer. Understanding what someone's needs are, what their vision is. If it's someone you work with a lot, that can be a nice source of income for you, for you to start to build or grow your career more. First, we're going to talk about how to plan for your shoot. So that's finding a subject, picking the right location, and then making a mood board. Next, we're going to put you in a space, and we're going to talk about how to understand your environment. That's looking for good angles, symmetry, and finding the best light. Then we're going to introduce our subject. We're going to ask them about what their needs are as a small business, and we're going to talk about how to position them in a natural way without putting our hands on them and making them feel uncomfortable. Then if you thought I was washed, we're going to go ahead and do it in a different environment just to show you that these principles can translate to many sorts of businesses. Next time we're going to talk about details, pairing our environmental portraits with detailed shots to further storytelling. Although this class isn't primarily focused on editing, after we finish shooting, I'm going to take a little time to talk about what our next steps are, how we want to think about editing, making selects, and sharing the work with our clients. Today we're going to two very different places. We're going to SouthBridge Fitness Center and we're going to Petees Pie. SouthBridge fitness is a fitness center and a holistic healing area. So they primarily focus on making sure that people who are slightly older are being more comfortable with their bodies, maintaining flexibility, and getting stronger, but at the same time, they have some very powerful athletes. So photographing that environment would really interesting because a gym environment can be tricky to work around. But I think what we're going to do is be able to take photos that show the services they provide, and less, maybe like sexy Nike photos, and more, photos they can use to gain new business, which is really important, especially in New York because people constantly have to make sure that they're finding new ways to innovate. We go to Petees Pie, I think, it's going to be really slightly different. It's going to be very product-related. We're going to see some food. We're going to see some process. We're going to see a lot of joyful, happy, bright faces. Not that you don't get that when you're at the gym, but I feel different joy personally when I eat pie versus when I do push-ups. At SouthBridge, we're going to work with some artificial light, we are going to get more active things, we're going to pay attention to our shutter speeds. Then in Petees Pie, we are going to be in a very bright area with lots of natural light and also varied product selection. So figuring out which things should be in the environment of portrait are important. All you actually need to follow along in this class is enthusiasm. To get started, I would tell you to go ahead and make a list of potential small businesses you'd like to work with. As the class is going along, go ahead and reach out to them so that you can start to practice some of these things and get yourself in the habit of being a collaborative creator. I get the question a lot, "What camera should I use?" Honestly, the answer is what camera is most available to you? I'm going to be shooting on a Canon 5D Mark IV, but I also sometimes shoot on a Fuji, a little point and shoot, or my phone, and all things I've been paid for. So feel comfortable and go ahead and practice working with whatever camera you have access to. Enough intro, let's dive in. Let's talk about how to plan our shoot. 3. Planning Your Shoot: Choosing the best environment for your subject can actually be very tricky. Sometimes it helps to just meet them in their space, sometimes it's good to put them in a slightly different space. I think it starts with understanding who the subject is and what the purpose of the image is. So let's say that we're photographing a scientist that's running for president, it might be helpful to photograph them in their lab and also maybe in the area where they gained the popularity or around a subject that they are campaigning about. So primary goal of that image is to translate to a potential voter, you can trust this person and they're an expert. If I'm taking a portrait of the same scientists for National Geographic with story about their research then we need to be in their lab. If it's for Parents Magazine and it's about how they balance work and home, then home and work. If you don't know, then talk in your subject and saying, what are some images you need? Maybe what are some things you have a hard time describing other people or translating? Those are good questions as your start and then also ask yourself, as I'm doing research about this person, what something that I learned that was really interesting to me, and then how can I translate that photographically? Doing research, reading past interviews, checking other social media, you might start to see reoccurring things. If someone takes a lot of photos in one space, they could either be tied of that space or they could love the space. So being able to ask them questions after and say, oh, I notice there's a lot of photos in your home, in your kitchen, in your car over on this field, is it a space you feel really proud about? They say yes. Then you can ask a clarifying question. What about makes you feel proud? Are there any other space that make you feel that same way? We're just going to have conflicting meanings for your viewer. But you as a creator should have some intentionality about the environment you put your subject, and that starts with your research and then discussing on your subject. There's one really big rule; don't mess with other people's money, whether they're paying you or you're doing this for free to learn more about your process. Understand that small business owners, particularly they are the CEOs, the HR people, the custodians, the supply chain folks and so anytime that you take them away from their business, is time that they could be using for something else. So it's really important to communicate exactly what you need, how much time you're going to take, and make sure you communicate with them to understand what it is they need. Since Instagram made the saved feature, I really enjoy just saving images I find interesting, and then later using them for mood parachutes. It's a good way to stay open-minded and see examples of how people have worked on things in the past. The goal is for you to mimic another person's style, but to build up enough pieces to be inspired by it. So with that in mind, I have this handy-dandy cell phone, and I'm actually on Instagram right now. This is my real life age. We're going to scroll and look for images that would work as environmental portraits, and so we're seeing really lovely work here by Sammueller. You see a portrait of this person and with everything, we start with this image of them wide grinding through this area and then we started to see these portraits of them all based on their environment and these textures help give us an idea of how the shoes work for this person who is conquering their environment. So if you feel like you not only know about them, but where in LA that defines them and what they like to do. So like, for example, this is a portrait that I really like. It's a lovely environmental portrait because it's called Dumbo Refuge and it's for Architectural Digest magazine. If you scroll through, you'll see portraits of the space. But the space is first divined by the person and so there's really lovely work in here. But you'll see that first and foremost, this person and their vision and their taste is the goal. Today, when we go and photograph people, there are ways to translate someone's strength and their energy, especially in this fitness situation that doesn't have to feel like you are yelling or aggression. So one photo that I actually used for it was this, these lovely photos of these soccer players. They're just a black and white set about these guys really enjoy playing soccer, and to Ana, and I thought it was really beautiful because when you look through the images, you'll see that the people are very acknowledging the photographer and aware. Within the environmental portraits, this is a very simple one. It's someone in environment playing soccer and you can see a level of seriousness about it. But you don't have to feel like you're overproducing or you're spraying sweat on someone for the environment to make sense. So lastly, I actually wanted to work on, since we're talking about shooting an athlete, sometimes the environment can be either people that are around them. So there's this really lovely photographer and doncharleone, and he has this lovely work that I really love because it frequently uses other people to show the environment and he continually does storytelling that is in succession. So there's not a lot of one-off photos, and so through that he can storyteller, he can establish an environment with the people around them regardless of where it is, and I think that's actually really smart. So here he has this just piece about a summer camp in Africa. It's called Summer Camp of Africa. You see photos of these basketball players and you're expecting to see normal basketball stuff on a core, sweating, angry, things like that. But instead you see this lovely mix of expressions that build on each other to fill an entire environment. So sometimes we're using the word environments portrait loosely, what I'm more saying is you need to provide better context and so your mood board can help you do so. Now that you see how to make them a board, you can save the images, you can take a screenshot printing out whatever, show them to the client. But one thing I would say is use it more for you to be able to figure out what kind of light the photographer's using and where it's coming from instead of maybe what camera they were using or what the filter is. Because once you understand the kind of light and how powerful it is, you can make whatever image you want. So work on the process of setting yourself up to shoot, well, the first time and then worry about the editing later. Now we've done a lot of talking. Now it's time for us to get out there, get our hands dirty, take some photos, meet some people. 4. Reading the Environment: So we're here on Myrtle Avenue, the heart of the Fort Greene and Clinton Hill area. I'm right outside of Southbridge Fitness. We're going to go in and talk about how to read your environment to take the best environmental portrait you can, how to place your subject, figure out where the light is, and make sure they're comfortable. So enough talking outside. It's winter, we shouldn't be playing that. So we're going to head inside. Let's go. Now that we're inside, I know our first instinct might be to immediately look at everything, but I always find it nice to slow down and check out what's in my bag so I can know what focal length I'm working with. Right on, in my bag, I have my 5D Mark IV, which is my camera of choice. This really doesn't matter. It really depends on what camera you like. But the lenses I have with me are the 50mm 1.4, the 35mm, I think it's 1.4, and the 1.8 85mm. Basically, you'll notice that the numbers change. The lower number is a wider shot and the high the number is, the tighter it is. If you think of sports shots that you like a lot, those are shot usually around 200mm to 300mm, so everything seems really flattened. For me, the 35 is great because it closely resembles how I view the world and so I can compose already when I look at things. So by the time I get my camera, I have an idea of the image I want to take. So then my focal length matches what I'm looking at with my eye, and then I'm using my aperture to set it up the field that I want. So looking around the room, now that we have our focal length together, we want to look at places that are nice to take good portraits, nice to get details of the room without it being overpowering, and figuring out where the best light is. So trying to balance all these things together, it can be tricky. So to start, this is a fitness business. They are here to sell people the idea of making sure that they can be the best versions of themselves. So you want them to look comfortable and you want the space to look professional but you don't want it to be overwhelming. Whenever we think fitness, we all always think of treadmills and bikes. So I'd probably actually avoid those as my primary places to take portraits because those are pretty played out and more importantly, they don't show any specificity. In an environmental portrait, you need to understand what your environment is and what the goal of your subject is. So the goal of these subjects here is to be experts, masters in their field, and to provide people with a service that they maybe can't get anywhere else. Which for here is personalized training of the mind, body, and spirit as they say. So let's avoid the spirit of the treadmill and actually look at something more interesting. So first and foremost, these TRX ropes are really interesting. I'm not exactly sure they do but in terms of images, they look really powerful, they look a little different, and it shows the specialization of the place. For my startup people out there, this is essentially what your value proposition is in your business. So I'm looking at these TRX ropes as a good place to initially take a photo. Also, the heavy bag. Looking at the heavy bag and understanding that this will always be cool to people. We've all seen Rocky, we've seen Creed. The idea of seeing some action is important. Since this is a fitness place, I want to make sure I'm taking a lot of photos that requires some action and some motion. So like I said, making sure that we have good light, because we will have to use our shutter speed a little higher here than we might in other places and so that means looking around where the light is coming from. In here, there's actually really good artificial light. Often in some businesses, because of how the places are set up, the light isn't super great, so you have to bring some lights in, which we will end up doing. But here as a base layer, we do have nice light, it's nice and even all the way across. But one thing I would say is always try to find places where your subjects are maybe underneath that light. So over here might work out really well. If we're looking, this is a nice play for some symmetry. I can take my subjects on either side and it doesn't feel like they're warping them. So one way to make sure that the light is where you want it is looking at how it impacts your subject. So let's say your subject's not ready, one thing that you can do, one of my good friends Ray does this all the time, is he sticks his hand out and he looks at how the light hits his hand as moves his hand around to see where the shadow is coming from. So as you see them starting to turn, you're seeing the shadow between my pointer finger and middle finger that's letting me know that light's coming from above and as I turn, I'm not getting any shadow until things are starting to be higher up. So that means my subject is going to get a little shadow where their hair is. That's something to keep in mind if someone has a hat on or something like that, you're going to want to go ahead and move it because it's going to have that same effect. Now, I'm going to take a couple of test shots. The main thing I'm looking for now that my camera is out is good angles, whether it's a little lower, especially here, it's nice to go slightly lower angle to make your subjects seem like stronger and larger or a little bit higher. Something I pay attention to that one of my photo teacher said all the time is to not allow anything to come out of your subject's head. It could be really distracting. So just like a pimple can be terrifying for 12-year-old you, having a photo where everything's set up but then there is some weird color thing popping out the side of their head can not really be the best thing. So as I walk through, I'm testing to see the hypothesis I had about what places would work and then working around them. So like here, I like this angle a lot but I see that it might be a little too wide because I'm getting a little bit of this AC and control panel stuff and that might not be the best. So I can either take a step over or I can have a smaller focal length. This is my subject and I think this is the image I want to take. I might set it up this way. But then I might realize that there's something out of their head or that at that side of their face, they don't look their best. So one thing I'd like to do is basically draw a mental line through the subject and play around the world as a photographer. So you shoot one here, shoot one here, shoot one here, and shoot one here. So you can see as you step through each one that the light may be a little different on their face, or it might be a more flattering angle, or maybe you see some things that don't work. Especially when you start with those things, getting all these things together gives your subject images to choose from. A and B gives you a better perspective as to how each person photographs differently. We have these TRX ropes. Then we had the shot that I liked that frames this way. I'm actually going to try it this way because I see there's a little cord running through here, and we want to make this look as professional as possible. So here we have a shot that I like, a little lower. So one other thing to keep in mind is the idea of depth when you're shooting environmental portraits because you want everything in the photo to tell a story about what you're seeing. So if I go a little bit lower and I start to shoot, the frame is then filled with all this TRX equipment, which lets you know that that is what their specialty is. Then lastly over here, I do like this frame because there's balls in it. There's just a couple of difference that provide detail. If I am taking a photo over here, I will just simply pop this sign off and then put it back later and just making sure that everything focuses on the fitness, and the subject, and nothing else. Nothing is distracting. Everything in the environment that you create for your subject helps them tell a story later. So we found a nice spot for our primary image. This is going to be the image we're going to take that's going to be a like slightly wider headshot. We want to take one of every employee. So we want them to look fierce and cool without them feeling too intimidating. So I actually like the idea of shooting this way. So we incorporate some of the brick and some of the larger area without it being overwhelming. I want to shoot a low aperture here so I can make sure that you can see things in the image but the depth of field is so much that you are focused on the subject primarily. So I'm actually going to have them closer to right here and move them around depending on what their head is bumping into. But given that it's right here, we are getting, the light's that's a little bit softer. So I actually want to introduce an LED. LEDs are nice because here in a small environment where there are customers, the idea of using a strobe would be really distracting. So using an LED light that's similar to this, we can get the white balance really close, that Kelvin number. We can then have the light up high this way facing the subject and cascading down, it's going to have it's back to me. That way we can just add a little bit of extra light and really bring them out and give them that pop. So you'd want to establish that almost early natural contrast before you're ever editing it. I decided to go ahead and actually add some LED light. So once again, not using the strobe here is important because it's less distracting. But being able to use it to point down and have some directional light, so that I can expose for the subject and then give that nice vignette around, because the subject would be a little bit brighter and the rest of the room will be essentially their playground, which is the idea of environmental portrait. So I'm going to go ahead and raise this up a little bit. Basically, I want this to closely resemble the height of the sun. Then I'm going to turn it, make sure it's set. One thing to keep in mind is we want to make sure the heaviest part of the light is over these bigger legs so that it doesn't tip over or anything. In an ideal world, we'd have sand bags but we tried to travel light today, so we'll do the best we can with what we have. So now, once I set the position, I can turn the light so when it comes over them, it cascades down. As the photographer, one thing I always like to tell people is that the light should be to your back. That way, it's facing your subject and that way, when the light is on, it's giving a nice wrap around for their face. So we checked our focal length, we checked our space, we added lights to get exactly what we want. Now, it's time to bring in our first subject and test our theory. Sometimes these things don't work but when we're prepared, everything good can happen afterward. 5. Working With Your Subject: What's up man? You all right? Yes. It's good to see you. So this is Lawrence. Lawrence is a personal trainer here at Southbridge. Like I said, we're taking environmental portraits of everyone. Lawrence is our very first subject so we're going to talk about what we're looking for with our subjects. So first and foremost, I always look to see how people's hair is parted. So since Lawrence actually doesn't have a part on his hair, I could choose to take a photo on his right or left side. I never want to take a photo of somebody just squared up because it looks too much like a headshot or a mug shot in a weird way. So I always encourage my subjects when we pick a side of the face, we'd like better to turn their body slightly in either direction. If you're just shooting someone for the first time, it's helpful to show them instead of just being, like, do you want me to put my hands on you, especially if you're working with someone who doesn't know you, you don't really understand people's personal space, you want to be respectful of that. So for working through, I know that I want to show him in this space. So I might actually have Lawrence shift to the other side because I want to see his body language open out. So when I shoot him, his body language opens out to the space that I'm shooting in the environment versus just the back. So if we're going to take a portrait, we can take a standard personal fitness one. So let's do something like, can you cross your arms for me? Then just look right at me. Give me a smile. So as I move around, I always like to, after I do the first set to stop and say, "Do you see anything that you like or don't like?" So you can see how the lights opening up on his face. For example, if I turn this light off, you'll see how now he is about as flat as everything else in the room. But adding the light helps create a sense of depth, and in that sense of depth, you bring him out. So when you're taking environmental portrait, you can't just have him sink into the room because he is the main focus. The rest of the room is his playground because that's what I'm thinking about. One thing I'm trying to keep in mind is right behind him there's a little piece of paper. Sometimes I might take it down, or what I can choose to do is just use his body to hide it. So there's not a confusing extra little detail and these little things matter. So we're working through. Just like I said, when I work around him, I'm making sure I make a half circle around his body because you never know you're going to get when you shoot somebody. Can you open up your body toward me a little bit? If you're trying to figure out what you want to talk to your subject about, it's always helpful to be like, what do you want your clients to feel when they come to you, right? So what would you say to that? I'm looking to feel motivated because I'm going to be the motivation for them. I want them to feel safe. I want them to know that I can get them to the place that they need to be. So yeah, all these little stuff is important because you want to actually understand who you're taking a photo of. The photo you take is a partnership between your subject and you, similar to how they have people and they're trusting them to get them where they need to be. It's my job to photograph them as they believed to be. So this isn't a secret. So when I'm done shooting, I want to show him and make sure he's comfortable. If he doesn't like them, I need to be respectful of that. If he does, then great, and we're all happy and everything's cool. You want to hit the bag a little bit? Yeah. Probably hitting it this way. So I can see you here and then also side. Then for you, the closer distance you are, the more light I'm going to get here. I can't tip that any higher because of that bar. So if you are doing any motion that's side to side or whatever, just making sure that you can still see that light. So as I'm shooting him, the thing I'm paying attention to is since we added this light, I have to have a shutter speed that's high. So I'm shooting at 800th of a second. Maybe a little too high to be honest, but anything over 250, 320 will give you that frozen motion you want. You want to take a second and make sure your subject feels comfortable. So here's nice, you're connecting step side. Yeah, it's good footwork and we stayed kept there. The only thing you keep in mind when you're shooting is making sure you have actual breaks for your subject and for you. For you to think about at my mood board, let me look at that mood board, make sure I'm following it. For your subject to feel they're getting what they want, especially here, I don't want them to get too super sweaty. It's cool that it's someone being fit, but we need to make sure that he doesn't look wonky, a little crazy. So this is a little bit of a tighter angle and I like it because it feels like I'm a little closer to the action. I can get more of his facial expressions. Although I lose some of the environment, I can pair these images well with the other ones that we used. Since I'm using a low aperture, I have to make sure that I'm continually changing my focus point and making sure that I don't lose him here. Now, since we're making depth, I want to get closer and you can hit it there. Don't worry about it hitting me. I want to get his action. I want to feel I'm understanding his power. What's the power I can get here if I work, trained out at this gym? So I think we're good. Hey, so we're back with Maya and we're going to take her photo next. So something to keep in mind, she's a touch taller than Lawrence but also, I want to make sure that generally, women know what their best side of their face is. Do you have a favorite side of your face? Yeah. Probably this side. Your right side? Yeah. Okay, good. Do you know why? I don't know why. It was just the side you feel more comfortable with. It translates better on camera. So just as an example, if I'm taking Maya's photo, Maya, if you could just, if we want to do your right side, can you just turn your right side a little bit toward the camera? Just turn your foot a little, and then just open back up this way. So the thing I like about it is I get a nice portrait of her, but it also lengthens and slims her out. If I'm shooting this way, you have no sense of depth with the person. It also works if, let's say, we're taking a photo of somebody who has long hair, you want to make sure that at least one side of their hair's brushed back, so you can have an idea where their face starts and ends. So anyway, we're going to take Maya's photo. If you take a step closer to this bag for me. So there's a couple of other things you can do since you're in fitness, maybe you want to cross your arms, look strong. I won't really flex. It fills a little aggressive, but I like how your hair is front, forward, and back in another way because you have such lovely earrings, and it's a nice thing to frame your face. So we're going to start that way and we'll try some other stuff. So give me just one little more step forward. Should I look like [inaudible] You're going to look at me. Okay. Yeah. So we'll start here. Smile? It's up to you to. Do you want people to come in and immediately fear you or do they want [inaudible] at you first. So you want to take a photo, and then you want to adjust. Some of the stuff I maybe shot before, maybe she is a little lighter or darker than Lawrence or maybe her hair is brighter or darker. You want to adjust those settings and then reposition. So if you could just take one step, kind of cha-cha slide, just back once up a little closer to that, and then just turn your shoulder out perfectly, good. Continue to move around the subject. Love it. You got it, yeah. Professional this one. Sometimes raising your chin helps because it helps elongate the neck. You want your subject to follow you with their eyes and with their nose as you move throughout. So you see that she does that really naturally. Yes and some no smile. There we go. Another thing you can do is take a deep breath, and then I want you to close your eyes. I'm going to count to three and then open them on three. This helps because for me, my eyes are a little bit smaller and so sometimes I get really inclined to close them on accident when I'm smiling, and so if you close your eyes right when you open them, they're the most open, your pupils dilate, gives you a nice smile then. So just go ahead, 1, 2, 3. This is cool. Southbridge looks like [inaudible]. So you'll see that since I moved around you is working your cut over. I like this better because we get a little bit more biceps, which is nice without it feeling like really aggressive. But this was too far over. Right. You guys are good. I like them. Cool. So you said you're going to teach hula. Right. Tell us about the hula. How does the class work? Why is it so, was that ridges or something? This is a three-pound hula hoop. It's weighted. So you start it right here. [inaudible] and then you just go around. So this is helpful to ask the subject because I want to understand what her action is before I start shooting it. So I didn't know that. If I didn't know she's going to be moving side to side, I'm going to step in here and get hit or more importantly, not convey the image properly. So now she's moving and so I might say, can you take a step forward? I still want to get her in this light. So now I'm just going to shoot. Can you shoot in motion? What did you say? Can you get it moving or no? Yeah. So here, she's moving the hula, and so this might be actually a good time to slow my shutter speed down a little bit, so I can get a little bit of blur, so I can show that this is happening. So I'm bringing my shutter speed down, slower, just need more light because I can't change my aperture so I want it to still have good depth. I want to go ahead and bring my ISO down to compensate. So I'm going to take a couple of tests. Okay. Now, yeah, just give me a little bit of motion now. Look like you're having some fun. Not that much fun because you want it to look natural, but you don't want it to look- yeah, that's nice. Yeah, that's actually really nice, I like that. Yeah, I want it too. Or even that. So it looks fun, but it still looks like fit and serious. Right, I like it. So it's my goal and that's it for you. I think you're free. You're good. Thanks. Wrapping up at Southbridge now. We got a nice intersection between the things the client needed and some kind of cool art, some nice light, and that's what it takes to make a good environmental portrait. So let's take all the stuff that we learned and try it out in other location, on the next one. 6. Putting It All Together: You guessed we're still here on Myrtle Avenue in the part of Clinton Hill. Petee's is where I've had my birthday the last two years. They're lovely people. They make pie, they make ice cream. There's pot pie in there. There's all sorts of fun stuff. We're going to talk about those same principles of environmental portraits here at a different place. So instead of working off the calories, we're going to gain some. So now we're inside of Petee's and since we're in a restaurant this time instead of a gym, something that you always have to keep in mind is how to portray how busy it is. Businesses always want to seem popular, not only because their food is delicious, but because people want to come here. So we want to make sure that we're shooting in a place that's bustling, has people in it and you'll notice that. There's going be some sounds, there's going to be some mixed light and so these are going to be obstacles we want to work around to take a good environmental portrait of the restaurant owner. Talking about the mixed light, it's a little bit later in the day, so you see these light is a little bluer. It's not coming directly in anymore, it's bouncing off buildings because the sun's setting and these buildings are high there around it and thus the light that's stronger is going to be these lights that are in here. You can still use that to your advantage, you just want to be really cognizant of what white balance you use and adding white balance to the principle we already told you, you're going to be able to take a great environmental portrait no matter where you're working. So the thing I'm trying to do now is, I'm looking at where we are in the restaurant. I want to make sure that I'm taking photos in a place that doesn't hinder business. So since this restaurant's really long and there's a lot of places in here, I don't want to shoot any of the tables in the middle. Maybe somewhere in the back or here in the front, which are close to the windows, so it's less annoying for business and you get good light. Another thing I want to do is, I'm taking my test shots, but I know generally that the places I want to go are right here on this corner. I really like shooting a corner. It gives you great depth. Then right over here, there's a really lovely mirror, but there is this row of pies that provides good context. That's the environments, your environmental portraits. So we are in my very favorite place with two of my favorite people, Robert and Petra. If you guys are getting photos, or hiring people or whatever, what purpose do you need? What do you use your photos for? We like to have a nice collection of photos to use for any press in Queens. We get a lot of them from any local food media or local tourism media like Tiny New York, or things like that. They'll ask us if we have photos on hand. So having photos of us as the business founders is always really helpful. Or photos of the product itself or even just the environment is always really helpful to just have on hand. So I'm going to take you guys' photo on a couple of places and then you guys have got to go, this is super normal. They're busy, they have lives and money to make and stuff. So we keep it quite short. So first I'm going to take you-all's photo right here at the corner of the bar because I think it's really nice. So one thing I want to do is to show depth. I just want you guys to give me a little space between so I can see where that bar starts and ends. I like you guys leaning on both sides of it because it gives a natural break in the partition. So actually I really like what you're doing. Could you put your thumb out. You can keep your hand and put your thumb out. Just so when you tuck someone's hand all the way in, you lose a little bit of details where they are and you're looking great. Just stand up straight, feel comfortable. Could you unclip your keys for me? Oh, yes. Just little stuff. He's not a janitor. He is a successful business owner. Well, it's kind of the same thing. Yeah, I really like this. You guys look relaxed. So what I'm actually going to do is, I'm going to open the door slightly so I can get a little more depth on my image. It's something you can do to just try to make sure that you have enough space. You guys look great. Thank you. You guys look great. Black and white, it's good with the floor, too. Yeah, I think so. Then I was going to do maybe one, just individuals of each of you. So we could do it over here, maybe over here. So when I was thinking through it, I really love this pan of pies. So I actually thought it'd be nice if you were just sitting here. Almost like '70s phone boothy, or not phone booth, slide boothy. The only issue is so since this is a tight spot, using the 35 is helpful. So it's going to get a little bit tight in here. So I'm going to turn your body out a little, just so it's inviting the person in because you're basically the pillar. You are the end of the image. So their eyes going to run along this line straight to you. Right. Okay. So it's pie, pie, pie, lady. So one thing I really like to do is running double symmetry. She's completely boxed in a calm way, so this life-like leading line, that works. It moves across the image. Now, how long have you guys been offering beer? About a year. So they've been offering beer for about a year and maybe some images they might need are images of this for Instagram, for Facebook, or just for their website or a mailer or something. It might help for them to have some pictures that involve a new product of theirs. So we're going to try to go ahead and shoot it, but what I'm going to say is you can already tell it's too dark over here, so we might want to add a light which we will in a minute to just give it a little more detail. So let me see. Here we're getting nice and close. We're shooting some stuff and it looks pretty good. It's okay but it's also a little dark. I'm actually going to see if we can pull that light even a touch closer. So we add a little bit of light. I'm actually going to up my ISO a little bit just so I can make my shutter speed a little faster. I want to get that pour cut nice and crisp. We're going to go to a 3200, add in some light, shoot it at a lower aperture. Let's see you pour it again. Here at the portrait I don't need to have him smiling. I just need to have in doing this thing. Great. That's it. So Robert and Petra had to go because like I said, small business owners are busy people. So one thing that I want to do now is go and get more shots. Especially since we're talking about small business owners, something that they need are shots of their products. So we're going to look at some of the food prep as well as some of the final products. That way, they can better market their business and continue to grow. 7. Capturing Details: You're probably wondering what we're doing in a basement. Well, food prep is really important and PD is after all a restaurant, and why is food prep important? Obviously, you need food to eat but, when food is being marketed or when people are marketing how their product is all natural, people want to see images of it. They want to see where it comes from, they want to see what it looks like, and they want to trust that when they put in their mouth is what you tell them that it is. So we're going to take some environmental portraits that are messy. Let's do it. So here, they have this entire place setup, and so I don't have the same latitude to move through my subject the way I'd want it to, so it's up to me to move around as photographer. I need to figure out A, since she's wearing a hat, where am I going to get the best light on her face? B, where can I get the most things of detail in her background without it being super overpowering? C, just getting the action. So here now I'm bringing my shutter speed down, bringing my aperture down, pushing my ISO up because it's dark, and these are the things that happen. If you want to add a light, you can. Actually, can we turn this light on, or is it the [inaudible]? That one's out. Okay. Bummer. How long have you been baking? About seven years. Wow. So one thing to keep in mind, sometimes it's hard to know where someone's going to place their hand on something so small? I can't put more salt in it. Oh, then don't put any more salt in there. But I can fake it or something. Yeah. As long as you might have someone fake it, but you also, it can be difficult to pinpoint such a small thing, and so you might just want to have them hold it over until you can focus, and get what you want. So the first time you shoot it you're probably going to get it wrong. I like to try to watch the first time, so I can understand what's going to happen, and by the second, third time, you'll get the photo that you want. So now, I want to communicate and understand when she's going to pour, but it's also very obvious she's going to pour now, so you just want to be in the position. So realizing that I can't get this always the same angle, this one is just better for me, and I think it looks cooler. Since you're using a short aperture, you want to make sure that you are moving with the focus along with her, so you don't end up with a bunch of unfocused images. So here the name of the game is finding ways that aren't distracting. So here, this little pink box is taking away from what she's up to, so I might just move it a little. But everything that she's using is an important part of the environment when you're taking a photo. So when you pour it, what is the emotion going to be like? So I'm going to be lifting the bowl up, up here, pouring it in to a certain rate, and then bring the bowl back down and rocking these around, so that's for all. Okay. Cool. So I'll start right over here and then on your second or third one, I'll go over. So one second. All right, ready when you are. All right. Good to go? Yes, ma'am. Yeah. It's actually really cool getting that pour, and then I'm trying to include that depth here, so that you can see the pie crusts, and then going along and seeing what she's working on here. The little thing to pay attention to that's nice about artificial light, is you move around it, you can see where you can see the reflection of the light in this darker spot, and these are just like little things to do when you're moving through your image. So that when she's placing it down, you see this nice reflection of her hand, and you going to get this understanding that she's working through the process of creating something. So ideally, we could literally watch her make pies all day. This is a heavenly experience. The only thing probably better is eating them, but alas, we can't just live in a basement eating pies. So we're going to go back to the studio, and have some closing thoughts. We're going to talk about what we learned, where to sum it up, talk about some next steps, and just frame everything so you can leave feeling more confident about what kind of photographer you are, and what stories you could tell in the future. 8. Finishing Your Project: So we went in two places today, we were with ton of photos, we met some really lovely people, and we took photos that I believe that are helpful to their business. So what now? Well, you got to import yourself. Let me take a quick second to say, as you start to take more photos, please make sure that you organize them. What I'd like to do is do month, year, day, underscore the client. If it's only you work with a lot, after that you can underscore the month you shot it down or what it's for. That way we can keep everything organized. You're not going to go look for it later and be really confused. The second thing I'd really like to do is make sure things are backed up. So I have an external hard drive, make a backup online, whatever it is that works for you. I would tell you to just have two of them. One of my things I wish I learned as a younger photographer, is most of my photos I took in college are actually all gone because my hard drive died. So just as a warning, please make sure you backup your images. After they're backed up and they're organized, you want to go through make selects. So select means that if you take 300 photos, you're not giving your client 300 photos. We talked a lot about how to protect people's time. You want to go and protect your time by not over saturating them with work. But also remembering that if you give them every single photo, then they're not going to see your vision. Some of the photos you've taken are not going to be great. You're going to have some weird faces, you're going have feeling out of place. Being aware of that and being selected is the next step for you as a photographer. You satiate your curiosity, you found a great subject, you did your research, you took great photos. Now, you need to make sure the photos that you choose to share with them are the very best ones. Now you turn in work to clients, those are two strategies. You can pick the images you think are best, edit them and send them, and say we're done. Or if you're getting along in the process, one thing that can help is make your initial selects and send over to the client and say, "Which of these images do you like?" You have them make selects. One thing that's helpful about that, is you give them a specific number. You might go ahead and able to tamp down how much work you have to do instead of editing a hundred photos. If you're unsure, you might just be able to edit 20. It's important also to build boundaries with your client. Don't just give them free reign to take whatever. The best advice I can give you is, after they tell you what they need, you edit them and you give them images that are size for how they want. People also ask what I use to edit, I personally use Lightroom, but there are other options and things that you can definitely use. People use VSCO, Snapseed, etc. I like Lightroom because I can both organize my images and add them together and export. One thing that I use a lot in my environmental portraits for small businesses is batch editing. So basically, selecting all the images, editing one. Then since the lighting is similar and the subject is similar, the edit is work all the way through. So I don't spend the same time copying and pasting. I would encourage you to do minimal edits. So you want to clean things up, make it look nice, but you should not worry about pulling things out of the image. All the things that you photograph, you and the client decided what the environment was like then, so leave it in for context. Make it bright enough for people to understand what's going on, but not overpowering with bright or dark, that maybe seems too moody. Like maybe for photograph for hot topic in 2004, that's great. Generally, what your client wants are well-exposed images that show what their small business does, what their value proposition is, and tries to bring in new customers for them. Your desire to share work is based on how you want to seem in the space. So if you take some great photos in a local restaurant, if you show them on your Instagram, you're probably get hired for more local restaurants. But if you just enjoy doing it and you're mostly a concert photographer, then you can make a separate Instagram and just only use that for client work. So really how you choose to share the work later is entirely up to you. But understanding that each piece of work you share out into the space, that then further defines you. So that's it. Well, not really. You have the journey of creating for the rest of your life, but this is a good start. To help you along that journey, we have some class resources for you. There'll be some links to some editing that I've done in the past. If there's anything else that you might need, please reach out and tell us, and we will add them whatever we can. 9. Final Thoughts: Thank you guys. Congratulations to you. We've finished this class, we've taken some great photos, and now I can't wait to see them in the project gallery. Please, please, please continue to pursue this, and as you get better, keep sharing and finding ways to take new, better photos, and I wish you best luck. Thanks so much. Bye.