Connect with me on Google+

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Keith Thompson - Photographer

I was lucky enough to attend a photography presentation recently where the main speaker was Keith Thompson professional photographer. His main focus is in the wedding and portrait photography business, and throughout his career has collected many awards nationally for his work including 8 wedding photographer of the year titles. You can see his work on his website

His presentation was focused on basic studio lighting techniques for portraiture photography, some background to the business of wedding photography and some Photoshop techniques that he uses. I made notes in a notebook throughout the presentation.

The presentation started off with a slideshow of a recent wedding shoot, he explained that to remain competitive in business he tries to provide something unique to his work and where possible (a lot would depend on the client though) move away from traditional styles of wedding photographs. This could be seen from the slideshow; there was a definite ‘fashion’ feel to the photographs and I was very impressed with some of the ideas.

He explained that for some weddings there could be as many as 1700 shots taken for a full day! However after the first pass it would be cut down to 800 images for client proofing. Although this still sounds a lot, he explained using batch controls on editing software these can be sorted and presented relatively quickly.

Keith then showed another slideshow that demonstrated his studio portraiture work. I noticed that a lot of these were actually very simple in composition (minimum distractions and props) with attention nearly always drawn to the eyes of the subject, however what made the most impact was the way the lighting was used, a lot were high key in light, with very light backgrounds. He explained that that the lighting is the first thing to get right and he considers it to be the most important aspect of his work.

Keith then demonstrated a basic setup with 2 studio lights. I found this really interesting as I’ve never had the opportunity to see how a studio could be set up. The main light was contained in a soft box. This diffused the hardness of the flash and light to a softer and more evenly spread light. I was surprised on how close this was from the models face. The second light used a small dish, with a honeycomb filter that prevents light from spilling out the side and creates a spotlight beam effect on the models hair from behind.

Keith explained the concepts of broad lighting (where the main light is on the side facing the camera), narrow lighting (where the main light is on the side not towards the camera) and the importance of the positioning of the light source around the model as well as height and how this affects shadows on the face and how light catches the eyes. This was fascinating! There were so many ideas that I have never thought of before and the tips about positioning the models head to create emphasis on the eyes were really clever yet very simple to implement.

I have purposely left specific details and tips in my notebook; a lot of the ideas and techniques were around the idea of using light and that is covered later in the course; I want to have a go at recreating some of the techniques and effects first (as best I can with my kit), so that I have examples of them for the log. I will then refer back to this post and introduce more detail then.

The final part of the presentation was around post production work and the common ‘touching up’ techniques that he uses to improve the look of the images using Photoshop CS version.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable presentation; I got to see equipment I’ve never used before in action, have the uses explained and I think I learnt something about lighting techniques for portraits in order to create drama and dimension to a photograph.

Portraiture photography is an area I’ve not really explored, so it’s given me some great ideas to try for myself in the future, and when I do I will publish to the blog.

No comments:

Post a Comment