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  • samanthaweald

Self portrait practice

Pro tip for any wanna be photographers like myself: invest your time in photography education!

Since losing my job I've been trying to turn a loss (goodbye healthcare and stable income) into a gain. In between job hunting, I've been carving out time every week to get out and use my camera and learn something new. So far, this learning has included watching YouTube videos for quick tricks (like help with backlighting and my camera settings) but it's also included setting a budget to pay for formal tutorials from photography educators I follow and respect. I'm only a few weeks in to my quest to learn all the things and have found it to be an immensely fruitful experience that's allowing me to expand my skillset, my toolkit, and my confidence as a photographer.

Last week, The Heart University launched a new mini-course, a "The How-To Guide: Planning, Styling, and Posing for Content Photos of Yourself" as part of Officially Quigley's Creator Course Bundle. (The bundle included access to TONs of courses but I won't go into that here....) The course is only 48 minutes but covers styling, posing, and techniques for capturing more engaging photos of yourself. In quarantine, where I don't have access to friends or clients at the same rate I normally do, this has proven invaluable! But more important than anything else, it's given me a reason to stop worrying what other people think and just go out and shoot.

So last Friday when Ryan had a haircut, I did some research on the location and decided to drive him. The salon he was heading to was located near a small park by the river here in Bend. And even though the appointment was at 1:15p (aka the worst time of day for good light since the sun is at its highest point in the sky) I knew it was a good opportunity to push myself outside my "golden hour" comfort zone. Before heading over there I did some research and learned that if you can't have the sun behind your subject, one strategy is to ask them to look up into the sun or angle their face in the direction of the light.

Despite the challenges, I walked to the park next to the salon, set up my camera on my tripod, and just practiced. I started off in one location that I thought might work based on the lighting and foliage, but just wasn't happy with how the photos were looking. My tripod isn't very tall, so standing I have to look down into the camera or else the camera is looking up at me. And sitting I was basically in the bush.... plus the light was looking just a little harsh...

So.... I switched locations. From the bushes I moved to a dock a few yards away. After trying a few poses standing and some sitting again, I still I wasn't 100% happy with the lighting or the angles. So I moved again!

Third time's a charm as they say =)

In The Heart University mini-course I watched, they recommend encouraging your subject to bring props to help create movement. In my rush to get out of the house with Ryan, I didn't bring any props so I used what I had on hand: my hair and my lipstick!

All in all I don't think the photos turned out too bad and I learned a lot! This season of life is all about allowing myself the space to learn and grow and find joy. So here's to 30 minute photoshoots in random parks while your husband gets a much needed COVID haircut =)

Camera settings: shooting with my Sony Alpha 6500 and my Sony 16-35 F2.8 lens between 1:15pm and 2:00pm. My priority with portraits is to keep the skin tones as natural as possible despite the bright light. I'm keeping it a little closer cut around 28mm, and because it's so bright keeping my shutter speed is high, between 1/1000 and 1/4000. My ISO is between 400 and 800 (it's best to keep it as low as possible) and with portraits I'm always going for an aperture of F2.8.

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