There were so many things that I loved about this shoot! Such a beautiful young lady that I met and such a beautiful fall morning. The textures and colors of the Oregon landscape always make the perfect dramatic backdrop. I was inspired to write some thoughts on motion and emotion in portraits.
Be Confident, Warm and Open: As a portrait photographer you sometimes never even meet the person until the day you shoot them, as was in this case for me. You need to instantly warm people to you and allow them to be at ease. Be friendly and intuitive and conversational, but not overbearing or loud. Confidence is so important, you want the person to trust you, that you know what you are doing, and you are going to make them look beautiful. Confidence for me has come with experience plus knowing my equipment and planning my shoots, which brings me to the next tip.
Plan and Prepare: A well planned shoot will keep the momentum going, the shoot will flow naturally and you will get natural genuine expressions. For example, I had scoped this spot the day before at the base of Skinners Butte and knew that I would use the leaf strewn sidewalk bordered by stone walls. I shot the sidewalk from both directions west and east so that it has different backdrops and also photographs her from both sides of her body. I also planned to use the low hanging tree with colored leaves for another backdrop, the stone steps, and the forest pathway. All of these were in very close proximity to each other, but creates different looks. Photos were shot with natural light, a reflector, and my 85mm.
Direct and Keep it Simple: You must direct the person, but without making them feel uncomfortable. At the same time, you don't need tons of poses……just a few poses with variations will work. For example, in these photos I concentrate on guiding her figure to an S curve, but use her hands in different positions on the jacket, hat, face, hip, skirt, hair, or lap to create variation and emotion to the sets. In the photos with her man, I use his hands too, on her face or around her waist…..all the while I'm also talking to them about how they met each other. This naturally brings emotions to the surface and dispels nerves, drawing attention away from the camera.
Props: Love a simple prop, like this jacket, hat, and blanket I brought along. You instantly give the person something to do and adds the motion and emotion to your portrait. See how many different looks we created, love it!