Annabel Williams Portraiture Masterclass

Lighting and Composition

Working

in a location such as a city can mean that the photographer is

overwhelmed by the visual clutter that surrounds them. This can often

make it difficult to identify what will make an interesting location for

their subject. One of the best ways to approach this problem is to see

your model and their surroundings as a simple arrangement of shapes.

photo by Jennifer Peel

‘Taking

these kinds of images is a lot easier if you can begin to see

everything in graphic terms,’ says Annabel. ‘Everything you see is just a

shape, from the models and their clothes to the environment they find

themselves posing in. The way those shapes interact with each other is

going to determine your composition. Everything in the street is a

series of shapes and lines, and you need to fit the shape of the person

in with the background. Move the person around until their shape looks

good, and don’t be afraid to move them back and forwards until you see

what works.

For Annabel, when it comes to the methods of lighting a subject, there’s no competition – natural light wins every time.’

‘I

really feel that flash can often ruin a good picture and studio

lighting can be quite tedious to work with,’ says Annabel. ‘When you’re

in a studio, you’re very restricted to the kinds of backgrounds that you

can use and the types of things you can do with your model. Therefore,

working on location with natural light will always be my preferred

method. When you’re out on location, you begin to see how different

intensities of light will work with all the shapes we just discussed.

You can treat the sun as a natural spotlight. It’s just that rather than

moving your light, you’re moving your subject.’

Finding the

right light for your subject can often be a difficult task. Sometimes it

can be too harsh and at other times completely flat. The trick is to

look for areas that offer something a little more flattering.

‘There

are a huge number of different lighting conditions in a street

location,’ says Annabel. ‘Standing in direct sunlight works well for

flawless models, but is too harsh for the rest of us mere mortals and

will highlight flaws. However, if you can find some sort of cover, such

as a doorway, then that will work a lot better as it will soften the

light slightly and give a much more even exposure. Also, areas like that

can make for really excellent backgrounds.’

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Camera Settings
  3. 3. The Subjects
  4. 4. Lighting and Composition
  5. 5. Location and Background
  6. 6.
  7. 7. Readers' Images
Page 4 of 7 - Show Full List
  • R Shepherd

    I would like to read your articles but the text is covered by adverts that seem to be part of the page.
    Is this deliberate or does it require a setting change.