Kristin Potenti Photography


Photographer based in South Florida specializing in Travel, Portraits, Event & Commercial Photography

I'll Be Implementing These 3 Tips to Create Stunning Portraits

Group photo by Zack Gray I'm still recovering from my week in Vegas at #WPPI2015. I learned so much and I can't wait to implement everything I learned into my photography and business. The first day at WPPI I took a fabulous workshop on commercial quality off camera lighting techniques with David Molnar and Zach Gray. I'm super excited to apply the techniques I learned to deliver an incredible, dynamic look to my fantabulous portrait clients in South Florida. ;)

David Molnar is a commercial photographer based out of Nashville and shoots a lot of album covers for musicians and bands. He kicked off the seminar portion and gave us three tips to create stunning, commercial portraits.

1. Great Images are Thought Through

When David meets with a client to brainstorm for a commercial shoot he asks the client to show him imagery that they like, whether by compiling tear sheets or creating a Pinterest board. He also asks if there is anything that is particularly important to them. For instance, for children’s portrait sessions I always ask if there’s anything special the child has just learned to do or what their favorite toys are at that time so I’m sure to capture those special things that are unique to the child at this point in their life.

David took us through the creative process of developing the concept and the actual underwater shoot for an album cover he recently shot. The album was entitled “Anchored” by Colton Dixon; anchored not as a literal anchor but in the sense of an anchor in your life that provides stability. The client did want to incorporate the ocean and a stormy look and feel to incorporate the double meaning. The final concept was shooting the musician under water hanging on to a chain at the bottom of the ocean (anchored) with a lightning storm raging on the surface. It tells the story of the musician being anchored and not being swept away by the storm or turbulence of life.

Album Cover of Anchored by Colton Dixon

I just love the creative process and how one final image can tell such a powerful story.

2. Light the Image to Create the Desired Effect Find your old faithful lighting technique. When just starting out with off camera lighting David suggests mastering one light first. Once you’ve done that try a key light and a rim light, which adds separation and dimension. Then move on to a key light with 2 rim lights and then 2 key lights with 2 rim lights. The light modifier is also an important consideration and David’s modifier of choice was the Elinchrom 72” Octobox.

3. Make Clients Feel Comfortable Compliment your clients immediately. Sit down with them and make a personal connection. This concept of personal connection is so important between a photographer and the person being photographed. With small children it’s pretty easy because they haven’t yet created their mask. They show the world who they really are all the time. Once people reach about 6 years old, they start to develop their shield; who they want people to perceive them as and it’s not as easy to elicit natural expressions.

The infamous photographer David Bailey, who has photographed innumerable celebrities including the Queen of England, states that he talks with a client for about an hour to get to know them and photographs them for about 10 minutes. It’s the ability to truly connect with a person in an authentic way so their true essence can be seen. When asked to photograph the Queen of England Mr. Bailey demanded a half day shoot and no crown or gowns. The Queen wore an elegant skirt suit accessorized with her favorite strand of pearls. The smiling portrait of Queen Elizabeth made by Mr. Bailey that day is one of true happiness that elicits an immediate smile from the viewer. To this day Mr. Bailey will not reveal what he said to elicit such a response from the Queen. The ability to create connections with people in such a short amount of time is what truly differentiates a great photographer.

Portrait of Queen Elizabeth by David Bailey

What do you think of these tips? How could a photographer make you feel comfortable in front of the camera?