sm blogpost jrussell

Next Level Portrait Lighting

Next Level Portrait Lighting with Josh Russell

So many times I ask myself, “Is this what everybody else is doing?” Over the years I’ve really tried to see my portraits through a different eye. Whether it be adding in colored gels, lighting certain areas that often wouldn’t be lit, using smoke bombs or even just “turning around” and shooting the opposite direction than what you’d expect. Portrait photography, especially “on location” portraits, really are the best place to get creative!

There are many ways to take your portraits to another level. However, I have created a simple workflow that has helped me create the BANGERS that have turned a hobby into a full-blown career.

The first and most important step to creating better photos is to SLOW DOWN! There are so many times I’ve left a photo shoot, gotten back to my studio, and said to myself, “Man, I wished I’d have noticed this at the shoot!” When creating a portrait, it’s not about “run and gunning” and “spray and praying.” You are setting the scene, you are often creating the lighting, and most importantly, you are telling the story through your camera. It’s not about hurrying up. Take your time, move your lights, try other angles. Just because the first couple of photos aren’t what you are looking for as your end result, slowing down will allow you to fine-tune and tweak each part of your process until it is just right!

I often was worried if I took too much time, I was going to lose the patience of my client. The truth of the matter is, as long as you keep them involved in the process, they aren’t going to care how long it takes. Walk them through your process as you are doing it. Tell them why you are moving a light, or show them how excited you are when you catch a killer shot. Another great thing to do is SHOW THEM THE BACK OF YOUR CAMERA! The model or client doesn’t know what the photo looks like from your perspective, but showing them what you are doing will get their creative juices flowing just as much as yours are.

sm blogpost jrussell

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To read the full article, launch the digital version of the June 2022 magazine.