September Challenge, update

Now that you’re getting prepared to shoot your portraits, I guess you’ll want to know what types of portraits I want to see.

Week One:

Close Portraits. Include no more than your one subject’s shoulders and face. The goal here is to frame your shots with almost only the subject’s face. This isn’t really a style of portraiture, it’s more of a skill that will enhance your creative portrait taking. Sometimes, just moving in a little closer can produce some wonderful tension and/or composition.

Week Two:

Couples Portraits. If you look around, you’ll notice that many photographers shoot portraits, but almost always limit themselves to solo shots. Rarely do you see photographers including more than one subject. So, I want you to spend the second week shooting pairs of people. They don’t have to be a “couple”, although engagement photos can be a nice way to get your feet wet with a new portrait business. Shoot siblings, best friends, co-workers, etc. There are many options.

Week Three:

Children. Ah, the dreaded kids! This week may be difficult for some of you. If you don’t have kids, you may be limited in the amount of subjects available to you. Plan ahead! Take some time, right now, to think of a few people in your life who have children. I’d suggest you ask them permission as soon as possible. Consider offering them copies of the shots, as a favor. There are two issues to really focus on. The first is the logistical issues. Where to meet? Arrangements with the parents, etc. The second is much more important. How do you photograph a child? I wrote a couple of articles for BeAGoodDad, that might be helpful. Also, the Digital Photography School has a good one to read too. Take the plunge. When parents see amazing photos of their kids, they’re willing to drop down their cold, hard cash for them. Guess what, if you’re good…you get that cash!

Week Four:

Environmental Portraits. These kinds of portraits are some of the most exciting and unique. They’re seen most in advertising. Think of the shot of a runner in a Nike ad, etc. One of my favorite enviro-portrait shooters is Thomas Hawk. His stuff is pretty cool. Darren Rowse wrote a great post at The Digital Photography School you should read. The Washington Post even covered the topic back in 2006. And Flickr has a group dedicated to them as well.

To continue your preparation, I’d suggest you go back and take a look at last year’s December Challenge. Additionally, below I’ve tossed in a few of my favorite portrait-takers. Each of them shines in their own way. When I’m seeking new ideas, or searching for inspiration, I always peruse the work of really great photographers. These are just a few.

Close up portraits: Karen Strolia

Couples Portraits: Honeysuckle Photography (Josh & Maggie)

Close up Portraits: Kelco

Environmental Portraits: Thomas Hawk

Kids Portraits: Brian Auer

Here’s a few more good portrait articles to keep you learning…

Oh yeah, you want to know what the prize is going to be, don’t you? Well, I have one item selected. However, I’m trying to get a few more. So, hold on just a few more days and I’ll fill you in soon.

Each of these weeks’ themes will challenge you, no matter what level of photographer you are. You’ll grow, and by the end of the month, you should be able to recognize that growth. With the exception of the environmental portraiture, you have the freedom to shoot all of this on location or in a studio. If you’ve been a lover of the Strobist’s work, you should be ready to apply what you’ve learned over there. You’ll never know how good you really are, until you take the plunge, and start shooting with a little challenge!