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Portrait Photography: Working with Natural Light

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29,954 people completed this program


Join celebrated photographer Benjamin Heath for a 40-minute class on photographing portraits using natural and studio light!

Whether you use an iPhone or DSLR, this class offers universal tips for making the most of your environment and resources — and capturing a professional, beautiful, and stylized portrait of a stranger or even a best friend.

Through anecdotes and practical examples, you'll learn the essentials of

  • planning your shoot
  • setting up your shot
  • technical tips on lighting
  • photographing in a studio
  • light edits that transform a photo from good to great

You'll finish this class empowered to take a great portrait of anyone, no matter where you are!


Class Outline

  • Portrait Photography. In this class, Ben will share his approach to taking a perfect photo portrait. He will touch on topics that include picking your subject and location, working with light, using camera settings, and editing your final photographs. You’ll follow along as he goes on location and works in-studio, creating multiple types of portraits and discussing his favorite tips and tricks along the way. You’ll be ready to create your own indoor and outdoor portraits in no time!
  • Creating your own. You will be encouraged to take three to five photos of two or more subjects in two locations – an outdoor setting and an indoor one. You’ll practice the different lighting techniques that Ben will teach you to use, and to upload your final product to the class page for review and valuable feedback. Whether you take maternity photographs, infant portraiture, pose geriatric subjects, or shoot groups of teens, this class project will make a useful and beautiful addition to your photography portfolio.
  • Using the right equipment. Ben will talk you through the types of digital camera lenses he uses, and why selecting the right equipment can make or break a photograph. He will discuss his favorite lenses and how to use them to make simple portraits and to capture your subject’s wider environment. Ben will also explain how to use zoom lenses, how to avoid perspective warp, and why a battery grip is vital for comfort and control.
  • Reading reference books. Whether you are creating a still life or a portrait, working with indoor or natural lighting, photography is about channeling creative inspiration into dynamic, beautiful images. You’ll learn why Ben relies on visual references to help him prepare for a shoot, and the photography books that he always recommends would-be portrait artists study before they begin.
  • Choosing your setting. Ben will guide you through the benefits and drawbacks of shooting outdoors or on location, and indoors, in a studio setting. He will explore the factors that every photographer should consider before settling on a location, and will share his secrets for selecting the right types of light and times of day to make reliably gorgeous, flattering photographs.
  • Shooting on location. Ben will go on location to shoot subjects in their own environment. He’ll explain how to approach people you suspect may feel uneasy or unused to being photographed, and how to survey locations for the best lighting and compositions to create beautiful, expressive portraiture.
  • Working in a studio. You’ll learn how Ben works with models in an environment that offers maximum creative control. He will shoot two subjects on a variety of backdrops, demonstrating how to diffuse and reflect harsh light, or to expose for it when it suits him artistically. Ben will also discuss the correct technique to use when your subject is backlit, and the best way to make sure they have a beautiful golden hour glow.
  • Editing techniques. Ben will select his favorite photographs and discuss why certain exposures work better than others. He will share ‘before and after’ examples of different editing techniques, and teach you how to soften shadows and brighten highlights without losing the details that are crucial to maintaining a natural-looking image.

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Portrait Photography: Working with Natural Light
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