Creating Great Hotel Room Portraits
Creating Great Hotel Room Portraits
Monday, August 9th, 2010 at 6:22 pm
Presented by harbordigitaldesign.com ; Source: shootsmarter.com
The wedding day is here and as a professional photographer – we are ready. All our gear is packed, preparations completed and our mind is full of all the great images we plan on creating during the day.
A Typical Start to the Wedding Day
We start the day at the location where the bride is getting ready, usually a hotel room or her home. As we walk in full of anticipation we come face to face with the following: See photo 01
A. A room decorated in the latest color and fashion from the 1980’s. Peach and teal come to mind.
B. A room that looks like a major tropical storm has recently blown through with stuff scattered everywhere.
C. A tiny room with the bride, eight bridesmaids, four make-up and hair people, and the bride’s mother. Finding a place to lay down your camera bag is a challenge.
D. All of the above.
To make matters worse it may be pouring rain outside. Even with all this adversity we are still expected to create great portraits of the bride.
Portraits Made Easy
Doing this is easier than you think. All you need is a window, a curtain or shear, a helper, and a long fast lens like my Nikon 70-200mm f2.8. I photograph these portraits after the bride is finished getting ready and just before we are going to leave for the venue. Some of the other people like make-up artists have probably left, thus reducing the amount of distraction. Have your assistant or helper (you could always have a bridesmaid help if you work alone) hold the curtain as shown. See photo 02
. Make sure there are some scallops – a continuous series of circle segments – in the curtain material. Then using only window light set you camera to f2.8 and the lowest possible ISO to achieve a handheld exposure. (Don’t worry about a little noise from a higher ISO, we will address this later). Then, standing as far back as possible, take your photograph. See Photo 03
Try different exposures and poses. You can create some beautiful high key images by slightly over exposing your image. For a different look as in (Refer to photo 01), I left the floor lamp turned on and behind the shear curtain to provide a little glow behind my subject. The beauty of this set-up is it literally only takes minutes to capture a series of great portraits.
Finishing Touches in Post Production
To finish these images I first adjust them in Lightroom for exposure and recovery of some highlights. I prefer these images in black and white, because you may not always have a neutral colored curtain or there could be some color cast. I like to see how the image will look in B&W so I do a quick conversion in Lightroom. If I like what I see I then import my image into Photoshop and using the DXO Filmpack plug-in play with the different black and white film emulations until I achieve a tone that works for the particular image. Next I choose a film grain emulation that looks real and covers any noise issues from photographing at a higher ISO. See photo 05
Although I use this technique mainly for brides, it could easily be applied to all kinds of portrait situations. Most homes have some kind of window treatments that can quickly be turned into a backdrop. Get creative and see what you can come up with.
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