How to use your garage to make a classic portrait

When it comes to photography gear, I consider myself a minimalist.  I love the idea of having a full studio setup, but I don’t have the storage space or the motivation to pull out tons of equiptment when I want to do a shoot. I actually used a dark grey backdrop (purchased from Amazon) for this shoot, but the same effect can be achieved without it.  That’s why I like using my garage to make a clean and classic portrait.

Have your subject stand just outside the garage (or any doorway, tunnel, etc) and watch how the light is hitting their face and eyes.  Ideally, you want some nice catchlights (the reflection of light) in the eyes and soft light on the face.   Then, you can under expose your image just a little and watch the light behind your subject fall off quickly, creating a dark backdrop.   Finally, in post processing (Lightroom, Photoshop or a mobile editor like Snapseed) bring up the contrast a little until you’re satisfied!

The first image is a pullback of my setup.  As you can see, I only added the backdrop.  The following two images are a couple of the results from this setup.

 

 

 

 

Garage Portraits (1 of 3)Garage Portraits (2 of 3)Garage Portraits (3 of 3)

Change your view

One thing that I really love about photography is being able to show something common in a new way.  Most people photograph from the standing position, which is fine, but we all see things from that perspective.  If you want an image to be compelling, one way to achieve that is to change your view!  You can get very low, high, super close, or whatever you want.  Just make it different!

My back yard is cluttered with kids toys and I wanted a cleaner shot of my daughter on the swing without all the visual clutter.  So, I climbed to the top of the swing set and shot down onto my daughter.  It was definitely precarious and it made me remember my fear of heights, but I was happy with the results!

Below, you’ll see me hoping that I don’t fall while I get “the shot”, plus all the stuff in my yard.

IMG_3673IMG_3670

And finally, “the shot”!  I took this with my Nikon D750 using my 35mm lens.

swing from above (1 of 1)

How do you get your dog to cooperate for a photo?

If you are like me, you’ve probably found yourself frustrated because your dog doesn’t seem to care about the camera.  But, one thing that dogs DO care about are TREATS!

So, the simple answer would be to have treats with you at all times.  But what if, perhaps, you are on a bike ride with your six year old and you find some beautiful evening light and you want an impromptu photo shoot of you and your dog, but you are lacking in bribery tools?  Never fear!  Set up the shot, show your child where the focus and the shutter button are, and then leave the rest to Photoshop!

As you can see in the following image, Einstein is thoroughly confused about what’s going on…

DykesB_Einstien (1 of 3)
Initial image where Einstein is ignoring my plea to “turn around!” It’s like he doesn’t even get it!?!?
DykesB_Einstien (3 of 3)
Secondary image of him “getting it”
DykesB_Einstien (2 of 3)
Final composite of a “well behaved” dog! (Plus, I removed the poop trash can and the random people)

All it takes is a little forethought and planning (and maybe a human tripod) to end up with a nice image of you and your dog!