I have been taking photos of people (on and off) for the last 30 years and take pride in perfecting the art of capturing the ‘decisive moment’ with my subject matter. In other words, I have always considered the comfort level of my clients above all technical considerations of the photo shoot itself. Armed with only my trusty Olympus OMD, I tend to focus more on the subject matter and the surrounds (location) rather than lugging around fancy technical gear such as flash units, tripods and telephoto lens. This way, I concentrate solely on the person in front of me and the actual photo shoot becomes more intimate, relaxed and less intimidating for all concerned. I have seen many professional photographers armed to the teeth with camera gear who spend more time fussing with their camera settings to the point they miss the opportunity to take a simple and perfect shot. This is what I mean by the ‘decisive moment’. My main priority has always been to create the most relaxed environment for my clients as I strive to take candid, beautiful photos of them. What I lack in expensive photographic equipment and technical wizardry, I make up with my creative eye to help me capture a great photo. My lack of expensive gear and overheads also allows me to offer very affordable rates.
As a freelance photographer I have come to appreciate that there are five essential ingredients that determine ‘good portrait photography’.
- THE EASE / COMFORT OF THE SUBJECT MATTER
Although this sometimes depends on personality factors I believe that I have the ability to make most people feel relaxed in front of the camera and oblivious to the task at hand. For example, I know never to ask anyone under the age of 14 to smile. It just looks forced and unnatural. I have picked up many tricks of the trade to help people feel relax and look their best.
- EFFECTIVE USE OF AVAILABLE LIGHT
I only use natural, ‘available’ light and I deliberately seek out a location where I know the light is going to give the subject the most flattering appearance. I therefore avoid unnecessary cast shadows, people squinting, or unnatural shine or harsh skin tones. I avoid direct sun, artificial lighting and flash for these reasons.
- THE ENVIRONMENT OR LOCATION
This relates to my previous point. It is paramount that I find the best location that will complement the photo and create the right atmosphere. Some of my best photos of people were taken next to windows or in doorways.
- THE CAMERA SETTINGS
Understanding shutter speed and aperture will ensure the correct exposure. Thankfully my apprenticeship and career in film photography has prepared me wonderfully for the digital age. I know and trust my Olympus OMD.
- THE VIEWPOINT OR CAMERA ANGLE
This includes the way the photo is composed. Only a creative photographer will be able to determine the best angle or viewpoint and therefore be able to compose the best shot. This includes removing or avoiding objects in the foreground and background that may become a distraction or ruin the final image.
Needless to say, I am still learning to become a better photographer. You never stop learning. The photos shown on this page represent a small sample of my portfolio.
It is important to note that I have not touched up or manipulated any of these photos in Adobe Photoshop nor have I used any in-camera effects. I have simply used available light and made the most of the environment / location on the day.