How to Take The Best Pictures

Photography evolved rapidly today. People buy cameras. They take whatever they want. They uploaded it onto Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or the most popular ‘visual’ application; Instagram. Many themes scattered; Travelling, Wedding/Pre-wedding, Food/Beverages, and especially; portrait. Likewise color tones; moody dark, muted green tone, earth tone, teal&orange, even Japanese tone. They celebrating it. Crowded.

Then, I think. I learned many things in the crowd. But I’m tired. I want to get out. And I want to be better. There will be a way that can make me look different in the middle of the crowd. So I did a long reflection to deconstruct my photography paradigm. Also, my business ideas. How to improve myself better?

The journey I’ve taken is quite long. I still haven’t found deep emotions in any of my works before. I try to see other people’s works more often on Instagram, even I saw some senior Indonesian photographer works. In the end, I realized that I hadn’t maximized my sensitivity about ‘how light works’, inspired by Rembrandt. Anytime. Anywhere. This is not just a technical issue of the relationship between light and camera or how camera prints images. But also how light affects my photography subject, make the results feel more emotional.

How the technique works

The most important thing before start using this method is try to learn about the light source. Don’t try to take pictures if you don’t find a place that doesn’t have a good light source. I consider how much light is in a room, and what factors affect the multiple sources of light. For example; light comes from the window and hits the right side of model’s face. Meanwhile, on the opposite side the source of light is less than the right side.

The side where the light source hits model’s face is called ‘highlight’ while areas exposed by a little light are called ‘shadows’, and the area between them is called ‘midtone’. This is very important to be known and understood by all photographer. Free to determine how much highlight-midtone-shadow intensity according to taste. You can ask the model to move, to reduce or increase highlight, midtone, and shadow intensity.

So far I have tried two categories of portrait based on this method; First, where the portrait dominated with a lots of shadow amount, and second, where the portrait is dominated by highlight and midtone rather than shadow.

Portrait of Woman with earrings, and rings
Where the portrait dominated with a lots of shadow amount
Portrait of mustachioed man
Where the portrait is dominated by highlight and midtone rather than shadow.

Directing the model

The next important thing is communication, where deep communication is able to make the model feel comfortable during the photo session. You can start the conversation with simple topics such as their news, and their daily activities. If you’re lucky, they will be happy to open up and tell how their love life is. This is a sign that they’re feel more comfortable and trust you. It is not easy. But will have an extraordinary impact on your results and your communication skills with photography subject.

And then, you can observe the model’s movements. What happens to the light when the model tells a story while looking at the light source, looking at you, or looking left? You can ask the models to stop talking and take pictures of them when you have the appropriate intensity of highlight-midtone and shadow. Also, you can let model continue talking, aim the moment through the viewfinder while pressing the shutter button halfway, then press the shutter button fully when you believe that it is the right moment.

Make them feel comfortable, and let everything flow

We can adjust exposure, highlight, shadow, and contrast on post-production process if still not satisfied with the RAW results. You can compare the results of my past pictures with today. Very significant, isn’t it? No matter what camera you use, to implement this method you only need to exercise your sensitivity about the way of light works. Good luck !

You can see some of my portrait results on the portraiture page.

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