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 – Preparation

Annabel arrived in London the day before the shoot and spent
time looking around for good locations. Although she identified a few
intriguing areas, she stresses that it’s important to keep an open mind when
searching for a prime location.


Photo by Oliver Atwell

‘It’s good to have a vague idea and a bit of a plan before you get going, but I usually veer off that route,’ says Annabel. ‘So while I’ll have a definite idea of where I want to shoot, I’ll still be on the lookout for other locations as I’m wandering around. It’s important not to be blinkered, and to keep your mind and eyes open to fresh ideas. You never know what you’ll
come across.’

While other photographers may spend days tweaking their camera’s settings before a particular shoot, Annabel’s style is unashamedly
less technical. She deliberately sets up her camera so that it is a ‘point-and-click’ affair, ensuring she can spend more time concentrating on the model.


‘If I want to capture something quickly, I need to be able to pick up my camera and take the shot – I don’t want to be struggling with settings and miss it,’ she says. ‘I’ve set the aperture to f/5.6, and I’ll use the zoom to pick up whatever I need at a particular moment.’

One of her obvious, but handy tips is to fit your camera with a screw-in protective skylight filter. They may be expensive, but your camera and lenses are more so, and if you’re carrying it around all day it may get damaged.

With a busy location such as London Bridge on a weekday morning, it’s only natural that subjects will be more nervous as inquisitive eyes pass by every few seconds. Therefore, preparation is crucial. Despite the
plethora of people milling about, secluded areas mean that models will be more relaxed, confident and ultimately produce better pictures – which is good for them and good for the photographer.

By establishing a relationship with her subjects, and picking out good clothing combinations and suitable locations, Annabel ensures the maximum shooting time and the minimum of fuss, thus creating a more relaxed atmosphere for everyone involved. ‘Once your background is sorted, the pictures are almost done – they just need to be shot,’ she says.

  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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