A snap dissected

I thought perhaps I would show you a photo taken last weekend.. a snap, at first sight, but in fact a lot of thought goes into a photo.

Here are Justin and Pam, who have been together for two years:

So what kind of thought goes into a shot like this?

  • The lens is a wide lens (24mm on a full-frame 1Ds Mk3), so we get depth in the image.
  • I shot late afternoon, so the light is good (nice and warm) and if I shoot at 1/25oth second, I can use f/4.5, so get a blurred background.
  • Nevertheless, this is not all available light – I aided the light by using an umbrella on our right with two TTL 430EX’s (yes, two, to overpower the sun). Hence the 1/250th second maximum (the synch speed).
  • I composed using the Rule of Thirds – Justin top left, Pam bottom right
  • I cropped to make the image suitable for distribution to their parents etc.
  • Since this is an environmental portrait, I kept the environment in – enough to see it is a dock on a lake, and they are skinny dipping.
  • The wave emanating from her feet produces a nice pattern and adds liveliness.
  • I avoid them looking at the camera in this shot.
  • And hence, very importantly, I make the viewer think; guess; wonder what they are looking at.  Each viewer wil have their own questions. Why is he not looking at her? Why are they apparently nude? What is the expression on his face telling us? What is she thinking?

As you see, if you apply basic rules – rules of composition, storytelling, light – your snaps can be more than just snaps. That’s what portrait photographers do, and with some training, you can, too.


Stand by for exciting news: the Never Not Naked: Natural Nudes solo art exhibition is coming to Toronto’s historic Distilery District, July 26 – August 26 at The Kodiak Gallery.


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