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 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 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 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.’