PORTRAIT SHOOT IDEAS WITH GAVIN HOEY
Give your next portrait shoot a fresh look with these three simple but creative ideas.
You won’t need lots of space, just a little pre-planning and your Olympus camera.
BED SHEET BACKGROUNDS
CREATE UNUSUAL BACKGROUNDS FROM LOW-COST DUVETS
KIT NEEDED: CAMERA, LENS AND BED SHEET
For this project Gavin recommends the M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 Pro or, for a shallower depth-of-field, the M.Zuiko 45mm F1.2 Pro
Being stuck with just one or two backgrounds can make your portraits look a bit repetitive, so sometimes it’s important to try out a new look. You could go down the professional photo background route and buy something that lasts a lifetime, or you can take the DIY approach and get something you can use a couple of times and move on. If the latter sounds good to you, duvets are a great solution.
While there’s no shortage of bed sheets and duvet covers to choose from, look for the ones that advertise themselves as “easy iron” or “crease free” – this will make a massive difference when you need to hang your background.
Once up, you’ll still need to steam out the worst creases, which is not fun but it is important. Another handy tip is to place something weighty inside, such as a length of timber. If it’s roughly the same width as the duvet, it should hang more evenly.
When it comes to the photography, using a shallow depth-of-field will help to hide small creases. A lens such as the M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.2 Pro is perfect for the job.
A SIMPLE BLACK HAT
MAKE THE MOST OF ONE SIMPLE PROP
KIT NEEDED: CAMERA, LENS, FLASH AND HAT
For this project Gavin recommends the M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro and the Olympus FL-900R
Props can really boost the success of your shoot. They add some styling to your photos and they give the model something to interact with. Almost anything can become a prop, but hats are one of the most versatile things you can find. In this case I used a basic black sun hat with a wide brim, against a plain black background for a low-key look. Work with this basic set-up to create as many different photos as possible and you may find that you produce some surprising results.
Hats with brims cast shadows – the bigger the brim, the bigger the shadow. You can use that shadow to create a mysterious look where you can’t see the models eyes. Tilt the hat back and ask your model to look at the light and you will produce a very different shot.
Then there’s the direction of the light. If you’re using an off-camera flash such as the Olympus FL-900R, move it around your model for a high contrast, rim light shot. The key is to work with your model, bounce ideas around and try something new. Your portrait photography will improve very quickly as a result.
ONE COLOUR PORTRAITS
CREATE IMPACT BY USING A SINGLE COLOUR
KIT NEEDED: CAMERA AND ZOOM LENS
For this project Gavin recommends the M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro or, if your background is smaller, the M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro can work well too
Nothing catches the eye like a serious splash of colour, so why not exploit this idea by controlling the palette and focussing on a single colour. Primary colours such as red, yellow, blue or green are probably the easiest to target because you need to find a background, props and clothing that are all a fairly close match.
It’s unlikely that you’ll have everything you need just lying around your home, so be prepared to put in some shopping time. Online stores can help to speed things up, but don’t be surprised if those red sunglasses you ordered turn out to be orange when they arrive.
A matching background is vital. You could paint a wall, but that’s a bit extreme. If you’re good with flash, you can light a grey background with a coloured gel. But if you’re only shooting head shots, a sheet of either coloured or painted mounting board is a great option.
Your background will fill the frame far more if you use a longer lens such as the M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro. Stand back and zoom in!