Portraits can be.. simple.

Take a studio portrait like this, of my son Daniel last night:

A studio shot.. but taken without a studio in, oh, one minute. Here’s how:

  1. Camera on manual; 1/125th sec, f/8.0, 400 ISO. (These settings are to ensure that the ambient light does nothing: it’s all flash. I could easily have used the usual 100 ISO, but I am using a speedlight, and want to ensure it has enough power).
  2. Speedlight on the camera, on TTL.
  3. Speedlight aimed 45 degrees up, 45 degrees behind me, to bounce off the ceiling.
  4. Subject positioned against an even light-coloured wall.
  5. Flash Exp. Comp. set to +1 stop.
  6. Tried various poses: right, left; shooting from above; from below.  Took several shots in each position. Watched for shadows and catchlights as well as for expression and shape of face.
  7. Picked one.
  8. Converted it to B/W in Lightroom.
  9. Increased orange a little in the conversion to smooth and lighten skin.
  10. Done! Exported as JPG.

That is how you use studio techniques even without a studio. It’s not the gear: it’s the knowledge.


This is what I teach – and teaching photography is what I do at least as well as doing photography. Contact me (michael@michaelwillems.ca) to hear more. To those of you in or around Mississauga: Basic and Advanced DSLR courses at Vistek tomorrow: sign up right now!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *