Photowise commercial and wedding photography Pretoria, Gauteng

Portraiture – Part 1 (Experience / Perspective / Composition)

Those of you who know me would know that I have never seen myself as a portrait photographer. The reason for the need to classify myself in the first place as a “this” or “not that” type of photographer is something I have never understood. For years I have warned my students not to focus on just one specific genre of photography, as photography, in my mind is a heart and soul thing, a passion, a journey, a means to express, to communicate, to tell a story. However all of these labels relate right back to emotions, humanness and thus people and portraiture. Why is it then that I have never “enjoyed” photographing people? I suspect that the answer to this does not really lie in photography after all, but perhaps rather in my own personal journey. Could the years of being vulnerable, the rawness of my own spirit, the oceans of un-cried tears behind my eyes, have kept me from connecting with the subjects, causing an inability to truly and honestly, tell their stories? Did the treads of my own life, suffocate my desire to create beauty and inhibit my ability to tell the stories of people? Could this have been the reason why I detested my own photograph being taken – a fear that the camera would see the truth in my eyes? Could the fact that I was so guarded have prevented my subjects from showing me their essence? Did I sense that photographing people could or would mirror my own hurting soul? Could this have been the reason that my portraiture experience had almost exclusively been limited to photographing children – safe in their innocence and ignorance?

My life has given me a gift these past few months. One of self-acknowledgement, of self-care, of honestly and truth, and hopefully soon one of healing. With this gift has come a desire, an urge in fact, to photograph people – to tell their stories. Also with this has come a cautious consideration to have my own portrait taken.

So what is the secret to a good portrait?

The connection –

A successful portrait creates a connection with the subject. It captures an expression, a mood, something that reveals the spirit of the person – that magical spark to attests to being really alive. The experience of a making a portrait is all about trust and responsibility. Portraits are gifts to the artist – someone is giving us a piece of themselves, trusting that we, the photographers, can execute our craft skillfully enough to be kind, honest and respectful in our interpretations of them. Our approach as the photographer should be one that cultivates that trust and in doing so create ease in our subjects.

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The experience –

In the recent months my experience of the portrait making process has changed. I find the interactions with my subjects to often be an adventure. The excitement of drawing something genuine from my subjects is rejuvenating. The intimacy of the experience and the awareness that I am seeing something authentic – their beauty, their vulnerability, their strengths, their truth, is humbling and precious.

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Authenticity -Radiating inner beauty….

 

A new perspective –

A successful portrait tells a story and how the story is told is influenced by the photographer’s perspective. “An image speaks a thousand words” rings so true. Taking the time to try various angles and perspectives, not only kickstarts my creativity, but allows the subject to see their life from a different perspective. 

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Shot from a slightly higher perspective to enhance vulnerability and innocence…..

 

The Composition –

What you choose to include or exclude from a portrait and where you decide to place the elements in your composition will evoke or accentuate certain emotional responses. Making use of powerpoints and other design elements as well as carefully composing around your focal point will ensure that the viewers attention rests where you want it to rest.

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Focal point on the eyes – to establish the connection, aided by the blurred background and careful composition…

 

 

Part 2 to follow……Lighting / Details / Post-processing

 

 

 

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Doing what we love most….

Sarel and I, presented a Macro Workshop for Nikon at Nikon House recently, and as always loved every minute of it! Macro photography has always been a firm favourite with photographers, novices and pro’s alike. Illustrating that it can be really easy and affordable on top of that, gives us such joy. I believe that it is for this reason that the McRofuzer http://photowise.co.za/product-category/mcrofuzer/  lies so close to our hearts.

I have pondered my own fascination with photographing little things and goggo’s and the “usually unseen” on many occasions? What is it in human nature (and my own) that makes Macro Photography so irresistible?

I suspect that in my case it is the sense of discovering something wonderful when you realize that there are hairs on bees or ants. Or perhaps the marvel that creation is spectacular and that we mostly do not stop for a few extra seconds to look or to actually really see. What adds to the experience for me is the actual “stopping”. I run too much, I am way too busy and even my photography has become about “how many shoots in a day” or “how quickly can we do this shoot?”. Macro in a sense affords me the luxury to just stop! To spend time on pondering exposure, how to sneak up on my subjects and how to light them. It challenges me to apply my skills and knowledge and to actually think about it. Ever noticed how aware you become of your breathing?

I love quoting Freeman Patterson: “Photography – both the craft and the art – helps me to be. It allows and enables me to live creatively, which is to honour Creation and my own existence.”

That is Macro Photography for me!

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Time To Slow Down? (November 2013)

#126 on my bucket list: “Photograph the rat race that necessitate the existence of a photographic bucket list in the first place”.

Inspiration:

“One step at a time
There’s no need to rush
It’s like learning to fly
Or falling in love
It’s gonna happen when it’s
Supposed to happen that we
Find the reasons why
One step at a time”

Lyrics: Jordan Sparks

How to:   Slower Shutter speeds (relative to the movement happening in the scene).

These were all 1sec exposures.Feet by Maryna Cotton - Photowise

Maryna Cotton - Feet (Photographer from Photowise)

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Reverse Lens Macro (August 2013)

The resent re-discovery of a camera bag containing some old lenses in the dark depths of my parents’ store room set this lazy Sunday afternoon project in motion.

As it is, I am hooked on macro photography, and despite having a dedicated macro lens I have always wanted to try this.  Needing only an old 50mm lens with a manual aperture ring and two adaptor rings, this is a fairly inexpensive means to try out macro.

The principle of this make-shift macro it to attach the two lenses to each other, using the filter threads on each lens – effectively reversing the front lens.

This is how to do it:

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Holiday Ghosts (Some time ago)

During the school holidays I had a unique set of challenges:

~ Get as much as possible camera time – it is so good for my soul
~ Amuse the kids (parking them in front of the TV is not an option) – quality time
~ Get some funky images for my portfolio
~ Write a blog

If I have learned something about children over the years, it is that they have imaginations second to none.  Alternate universes do exist and in these far away awesome places anything goes and everything is possible and real. With this ability to believe almost anything, comes a good dose of curiosity. It was exactly these characteristics I intended to use (read: misuse) to entrap my poor innocent victims to a few hours of photography bliss.  A quick explanation and demo had them convinced that my camera could see through them and that they were in fact mere ghosts (friendly ghosts, specifically).

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The Love Story Continues (October 2013)

I have been complaining to those close to me recently, that I would have to make a definite effort to photograph in ways which are outside of my comfort zone. I would have to go and do the landscapes and the wildlife stuff and not always do macro and creative photography. The challenge is my life style (and I am not making excuses) – I am just too busy!  Macro is just so convenient! 30 minutes with my camera and window light from the dining room window and voila! I have images. My garden is so beautiful this time of year and the straight forward record type shots are just not doing it justice….. macro remains the firm favourite, but all the creative techniques are just so much fun and images are generally “show stoppers”.

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Wedding Season (July 2014)

We just love weddings and our South African summers make for stunning wedding pictures.  We are spoilt for choice from awesome venues, beautiful lush gardens, thunderstorm skies, and last but not least lovely brides.

A few Wedding tips for brides

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Working With Light Outdoors (Clarens July 2014)

Yes, it was cold!  Bitterly cold!  Yes, it was fantastic!  Yes, we will do it all again if we got the chance.

The week-end was all about light.  We painted with light, hunted some bugs with our Macro lenses, made star trails and astro-lanscapes over the Eastern Freestate Landscapes and framed beautiful landscapes.

Reflecting on the weekend, I have to admit that it is in fact out students who make these trips a huge success.  Despite the cold, fun was had by all.

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Location

N4 Gateway Industrial Park East
Willow Park Manor, 0184
Cnr Solomon Mahlangu and
R104 Bronkhorstspruit Rd

Location Inside the Park:
49 Sneeuberg Street
Unit 3

GPS:
S 25°45'16.358"
E 28°21'51.222"

Contact Us

For General Enquiries:
info@photowise.co.za
012 803 1370

Sarel van Staden:
sarel@photowise.co.za
082 4150 474

Maryna Cotton:
maryna@photowise.co.za
082 8570 479

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