A studio portrait is often the the hardest to get right. In a situation where you are using lighting and backdrops it can be hard to get your sitter to relax. An artificial environment can often create a stiff or uncomfortable portrait. If you are going for a more precisely posed picture problems can magnify again.
I have found that you need to make a connection with your subject for this type of picture to work. It helps if you use a tripod. Often a camera pressed against your face can break that connection so I think it’s really important to talk directly to people. It also helps to guide expression and posing directly rather than looking through a camera – you’d be amazed at how easy it is to spot things you would otherwise miss squinting through a viewfinder.
For this shoot I used my view camera loaded with 4×5″ black and white film because I felt it’s aesthetic qualities suited what I was trying for. It’s large grid screen and camera also helps me to compose precisely. I also think the lenses I have for it render a more 3d feel to images.
The sitting was about 1 hour to set up and light and I shot eight frames total. not a lot in digital terms but more than enough in 4×5. It was important to have a firm idea of what I wanted to achieve. As ever I used my DLSR to evaluate lighting and create back up images.
I’ve have brought developing and scanning in house so I can turn around shoots within a day. Although a drying cabinet is next on my list!
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