Advanced portraits cover a wide conceptual range. From dramatic character studies to head shots for models and performers, advanced work requires the time to get to know the sybject and to understand the ultimate use of the images.
Garage door lighting is accomplished with a huge soft light source giving a soft wrap-around illumination of the subject’s face. A white reflector is used to throw a little illumination into the shadow side.
In a studio, high contrast dramatic lighting, low key, and black and white seem to prevail. Unlike the standard lighting and rapid turnaround with basic portraiture, time is taken to get the lighting right for the look you are seeking.
For women, the dramatic look is usually tempered with a soft, gentle presentation. For men, harsh, specular light is used to accentuate every flaw and pore to give a rugged, experienced look.
Eye contact is less important with advanced portraits, and activities that can be identified with your subject can lend additional meaning to the session.
Unlike basic portraiture, an advanced sitting is usually discussed at length, and carefully planned. Often a make-up artist will be involved.
A special case of an advanced sitting is a model’s headshot
Environmental portraits involve capturing the subject in their element. It is very much like doing nature photography, showing the subject within their natural habitat.
This type of photography is editorial in nature, relating not just the person, but their story. The lighting is usually not as important as the message.
This is best illustrated by example.
Frank Taylor founded and ran an alternative theatre, showing art and cult films. Note the projectors from a non-digital age.
Budge Crawley was known as a joyous man who could create a masterpiece from nothing. He was awarded an Oscar for his documentary on Janis Joplin.
Karl Hilzinger played football in the CFL until a car accident took both legs. A consummate athlete, he is shown here teaching a fellow amputee to ski at Mont Tremblant.
Supplemental lighting, if necessary, is kept to a minimum. Using reflectors or off-camera flash usually requires an assistant. The more people present, the more difficult it is for the subject to relax into their world.
If you are going to do environmental portraits, a word of warning. It is NOT your job to bring the story out of the subject. It is your job to set the stage, then back off and let the subjects express themselves. You are a spectator.