Portraiture Masterclass with Annabel Williams - London

Annabel Williams takes two readers out onto the streets of London to show them how to use the urban environment to achieve successful portrait shots. Tom Doyle reports

Everybody is a portrait photographer. Whether you're staring at the screen of a smartphone while your friends pose on a night out, or you're snapping intimate portraits of stars for a cover shoot, the aim is to capture your subject in a way that reveals something of their personality.

The trouble is that most people are naturally guarded. Profile pictures on social-media sites show that people are very careful about how they want to be portrayed, and will fight to retain control of their public perception. Portraiture is therefore perhaps the most common, yet most elusive, genre of photography. Everybody does it, but few do it well.

It's handy, then, that we have Annabel Williams to show us how to get things done with this Masterclass. AP readers Sue Kennedy and Helen Schryver have been given the chance to work with Annabel, who will be explaining how to tease those top portrait shots from reluctant faces.

The location is an overcast London Bridge. The sun is fighting a losing battle with the clouds, making the elements a challenge. However, Annabel remains positive.

‘Shooting in the right light is fundamental,' she says. ‘We'll get a lovely soft light today, but we are also likely to get wet. Such is the life of a photographer. Protection for your camera is vital, so make sure you have some kind of cover for your kit. This is particularly important as we enter the colder months.'

It's immediately clear that Annabel is confident and personable, and it isn't hard to see why her shots seem so natural. Perhaps the most important piece of wisdom that she offers our attendees is that preparation is the key to a successful portrait shoot. ‘You should have 90% of the work done before the shutter is pressed,' she explains.

Your AP Master...

Annabel Williams
Annabel Williams is one of the world's leading portrait photographers. She is passionate about working in a very simple way with natural light and has forged a successful career as a photographer and tutor. Combining previously acquired skills as a special-needs teacher has allowed Annabel to understand the psychology of people and utilise those skills to get the best possible images of them. She is based in the UK and the USA. For more details, visit www.annabelwilliams.com.

The AP readers...

Sue Kennedy
Sue uses a Canon EOS 5D Mark III. She shoots portraits, but her passion is landscape photography. ‘It was nice having a creative day to enjoy myself,' she says. ‘It was great to pick Annabel's brain and adjust my work according to her advice. I'm going to take away plenty of tips and tricks.'

Helen Schryver
Helen uses a Canon EOS 7D and enjoys portrait photography. ‘It was so much fun, useful and incredibly informative,' she says. ‘Working with Annabel has had an immediate impact on my photography as she encouraged us to experiment with different ideas and techniques.'


Would you like to take part?


Every month we invite three to five AP readers to join one of our four experts on a free assignment over the course of a day.  If you would like to take part, visit www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/masterclass for details of how to apply. Please remember to state which Masterclass you would like to attend and make sure you include your name, address, email address, daytime telephone number, some words about your work and three or four of your images.