First Portraits

This Sunday I’ll be taking my first “studio” style portraits. I’m going to take “head shots” of each member of the cast of Picnic in a posed fashion on the stage, to be used as a lobby display.

I’ve never really done portrait photography. I had a couple weeks of study once in college and I’m sure I had to take a portrait for the class, but I don’t remember anything about it, who I took the picture of or where. I have a vague idea that you want to avoid dark shadows on the face but still provide some facial definition through highlights and softer shadows, but I don’t really have any practical experience regarding how to go about it.

There will be lots of light anyway. Yellow, red and blue lights will be hung for the purposes of lighting the stage for various scenes in the production, and I have a sense that I might arrange to have the different colors at different intensities and that might provide some visual interest. But then again that’s only if I end up printing the photos in color. My inclination is to go with black and white instead. I will also have a poor man’s light reflector on hand. OK, a big sheet of white tagboard. But it should serve the purpose of softening shadows on the face, particularly given what I expect will be otherwise harsh lighting, depending on how I have the subject positioned.

I’m hoping to have a few minutes the day before to try different lighting styles. I also hope to have a couple of people to help me set up (though I don’t know where these people will come from): one to hold the reflector and one to be a “test” model.

Anyway, if you have any suggestions for me please, I beg you, leave a comment. I’ll only have one – maybe two – shots at getting these portraits right, and I want to do the best job I can. What advice do you have to give me?

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