How to Master Portrait Photography

I am Jean Noir, 37 years old and was born in the beautiful Rheingau in Germany. After years of traveling the world, I am now settled between Darmstadt and Frankfurt, in our NOIRstudio – so to speak my center of life. I found photography six years ago during a troubled time in my life. Creating art allowed me to get out of my slump and have something great to focus on. I encompass art and painting in my photos by focusing on the feeling, expression and message I want to portray. Most importantly, I make each photo unique by “painting with light,” which is the translated version of photography in Ancient Greek. Using this combination of emotion and light, I can create unique imagery. With light, you should understand how to read it, put it into action, combine it with shadows and contrasts, and when to use it as a mystical element. In addition, opposed to working with a model, I like to work with the person and character behind the individual. Neither a model nor any other human is a blank canvas. You should always picture the model’s personality, with certain artistic features of course. That being said, I listed my 6 tips for capturing your own portrait image.  

6 Tips for Mastering Portrait Photography

1. Be prepared
Focus on the preparation of the shoot, as this allows you to create an amazing photo. Preparing the development of ideas, mood boards and light sources will cover about 95% of the shoot. This includes having calls with the models to get an impression of their character and their vision of the shoot. Using this information, I can make the shoot as detailed as possible.
2. Ask the right questions during a call or meeting
Depending on how open the person I am working with is, I ask them about their strengths and weaknesses, self-assessments, as well as a self-reflection. The “Chocolate side”, which is what is defined by this person, as well as the “roles” this person want to take over and/or ideas he or she can identify with. These all need to be considered when creating the moods.
3. Get inspired by the natural light sources before you start
One of the important things is being able to recognize and make sure the light situation is workable. In the past 2 years, I have noticed that people aren’t being inspired by the light around them. They are living in their comfort zone and are resistant to risk or try something new. I believe this is the reason why in today’s world many photographers always have the same look and shoot what they have always did in the past.
4. Avoid going mainstream and be unique by getting authentic photos with depth
Don’t compare your work with what is “new” in the industry. Many photographers have social media in their subconscious, which results in photos being produced for generating links. Shooting something different will help to create your own style and signature.
5. Use equipment you are satisfied with
Prepare your equipment depending on your concept. For my NOI’A’R’T series for example, I use a prism and various creams for a gloss effect. I also use complementary sources of light such as the Rotolight (NEO2 & AEOS), special LED light sources and LED flash to expand the natural light. For the best result, be 100% familiar with your equipment.
6. Set up a proper workflow after the shooting
Make a step-by-step workflow plan to ensure that nothing is missed. My workflow starts with intensive preparation of the shoot including, creating moods, selecting outfits and designing sets. The finalization of my images is done with the RAW converter of Adobe and then I edit on Photoshop. I then back up on my Drobo and to the cloud to protect my work. In conclusion, you never stop learning. You can always take some detail with you and run through the continuous process of personal development. Anyone who stops learning and does not have the willingness to improve each day, has already lost. This is not only the case in photography, it is related to life in general. Participants in my Noir Intense Coachings learn not only how to photograph, but also the understanding of how to work as a “human being” behind the camera with the “human being” in front of the camera. So, don’t stop – move on and get inspired – each and every moment.

Jean Noir

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