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

Portraiture Masterclass – Phoning it in

While happily shooting away with a Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III, Annabel also pulls out her iPhone at each location to grab a few snaps. It seems humorous at first as she carefully places the professional camera down,
only to wave a pink phone around in earnest. But she insists that with the ever-increasing technology within smartphones, there is no reason not to use them now.

Photo by Annabel Williams

Smartphones have their own vitures when it comes to portraiture

‘The apps on offer can give you stunning shots,’ says Annabel. ‘That’s particularly true of Hipstamatic on the iPhone. However, you should initially shoot in the basic camera mode, and then use the image in conjunction with the apps, rather than using the apps to record the picture.’

The colours and textures offered in apps like Hipstamatic can make for interesting alternative images, such as a striking shot of Gus sitting against a wall (see below right). His wavy hair and beard leave him looking a little like a certain religious figure stuck in the depression of modern-day urban life.

Photo by Annabel Williams

Going back to her mantra of good preparation, Annabel maintains that if you’ve thought about lighting and composition, good phone cameras will give you great shots. ‘In order to progress you must adapt – you
have to move with the times,’ she says.

Get me security

On more than one occasion, Annabel and the group were approached by inquisitive security guards demanding to know what they were doing, and then were told in no uncertain terms to move on. This is a particular problem in urban areas, with cameras and guards lurking around every corner, ready to pounce as you set up that shot of a lifetime. Be aware that while you may see a perfect location, you may not necessarily be able to use it, particularly if you are using the shots commercially. Companies and organisations that own land may demand a fee to shoot in that area, so be careful when setting up a shoot that costs time and money as it may be brought to a swift end.

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Portraiture Masterclass – Preparation
  3. 3. Portraiture Masterclass – Working with Models
  4. 4. Portraiture Masterclass – It's behind you
  5. 5. Portraiture Masterclass – Lighting
  6. 6. Portraiture Masterclass – Phoning it in
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