Keeping it Simple – The Five Minute Portrait

What do I need for a portrait, like this?

A studio, right? All sorts of light, right? Light meters? Pocketwizards?

Not necessarily.

For this portrait of Sarah, I was showing her how to do this the easy way. You need:

  1. A camera.
  2. One flash, like an SB-700 or a 430EX.
  3. If is it a recent Canon (like a 7D, 60D, etc) or most Nikons, that is all. If an older Canon, you need an additional flash on top of the camera to drive the other flash.
  4. A light stand
  5. An umbrella
  6. A bracket on that light stand to mount the flash and umbrella
  7. A clean wall
  8. A reflector – this can be a “proper” reflector, or a white sheet, or a piece of bristol board, or whatever you can get someone to hold – or another wall at 90 degrees to the background wall!

That looked like this:

And that really is all. You now do the following:

  1. Mark the floor where the subject is to stand (use tape).
  2. Put the stand up, at 45 degrees from the subject, and 45 degrees up.
  3. Move the reflector in place.
  4. Put the flash in “Slave” or “Remote” TTL mode.
  5. Put your camera’s flash in “Master” or “Commander” mode.
  6. Disable flashing from your on-camera/popup flash. It will send commands to teh remote flash, buy it will not fore when the picture is actually being taken (else you would get nasty shadows).
  7. Move the model’s body toward the umbrella; face to you.
  8. Fire!
  9. Check results.
  10. You will probably need “Flash Exposure Compensation” of +1 stop if you are using a bright wall. For bright clothing also, maybe +2 stops. Ensure you gte good catch lights, too.

And that’s that. Takes a few minutes only. No, it does not always need to be complex.


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