Club Meeting, "Portraiture" - Tuesday 17th January 2017.


On Tuesday 17th January 2017, Morpeth Camera Clubs’ guest speaker was Simon Drew on the subject of
"Portraiture". Simon, from the ‘Loud and Flashy’ studio in Ashington, discussed portrait photography and
gave several practical demonstrations of the different lighting techniques that he uses.
Simon opened by stating that some photographers may not be comfortable with portraiture. They may, in
the past, have been disappointed with their results when taking portraits of family members. Feeling under
pressure to succeed, they can make simple mistakes and end up not putting into practice what they know. 
Portraiture being his passion, he went on to show typical examples of his studio work; of dramatic dancers
lit three ways to create pools of light, Pitman Painters actors captured amid varying shades of dark and light,
softly lit babies, blurred bokeh effect portraits created from Christmas lights, thoughtfully arranged family
groups, stunning portraits of face painted models and many more examples of his craft.
He pointed out how easily mistakes can be made with bad use of lighting such as unwanted shadows under
noses and elongated chins. Getting too close to a subject can create facial distortions giving the subject a
rounded ‘selfie’ look.  In his opinion it is better to stand back a little, use a longer focal length, to achieve a
more streamlined effect on the face. Alternatively, with children, it is preferable to get in close and choose
a lower point of view to achieve more interesting results.  He added that in portraiture it is vital to choose a
single focal point, sharp eye detail being a must. With the use of a shallow depth of field, sharp features with
a softer background can be successfully captured. He went on to say that group photography requires a larger
depth of field so that everything is sharp and has a crisper outline.
With lighting, harsh shadows can or cannot work in a portrait, one must always be aware of the light source;
harsh light accentuates cheekbones but by bouncing off light from the ceiling one can produce an overall softer
effect. It is also important to shoot from the right angle, with girls, shoot from above to create a softer jaw line,
with men, shoot from below eye level to create stronger features.
Simon emphasised that it is not always necessary to use expensive lighting equipment; one good light source
is less complicated, does not intimidate young children, and relaxes the model. Portrait photography does not
necessarily have to take place in a studio; it is available to anyone, anywhere.
While this was not primarily a practical evening, members were invited to bring along their cameras and have
a go at capturing portraits. With his model, Jasmine, Simon guided club members through options of shutter
speed and choice of light source, explaining the benefits of Loop, butterfly and Rembrandt lighting which are
the most frequently-used methods to ensure that the subject is well lit in the most pleasing manner.
He concluded that, to get the most out of portraiture it is invaluable that a photographer talks to the model,
makes a connection and builds up a rapport.
Simon provided an interesting and informative evening which gave an insight into the world of the professional
portrait photographer. Glyn Trueman thanked Simon for his excellent presentation after which coffee was enjoyed.