Beginner Photography: Portraits

More portraits! I made my husband, Eric, model for me almost a year ago here and then again in some family portraits here. There are certainly some things I’ve improved on in the past year, but some things I can’t seem to get past. I wanted to shoot Eric somewhere other than our backyard, which seems to be the setting for many of my projects. He’s a big, tattooed gentleman, so I wanted a setting that fit his look. There’s a great graffitied underpass on our hiking trail that I’ve shot in before that I thought would work well. It was a bright and humid day, so I thought being in the more muted light under the underpass would be flattering, but what it wound up being was too dark for my camera. My biggest complaint of the Olympus E-M10 is how terrible it is in low light. It made the focusing near-impossible and the images came out pretty noisy. 

Here’s a great video from T&C on shooting portraits outdoors:

Now I just need to work on how to teach my model to pose, or not feel horribly uncomfortable in front of the camera. He did great though!

My first handful of shots were in front of the most vibrant area of graffiti, but they all came out unusable because I missed focus on every single one. Then I did a series in front of the lines of the underpass, these were also so noisy, but I got a few that worked well. The last handful I took outside of the underpass but still in the shadow of it that worked better. Here’s what I came up with:


f/5, 1/30th, ISO 1600


f/5, 1/40th, ISO 1600


f/5.3, 1/80th, ISO 320


f/5, 1/200th, ISO 200


The last shot is for sure the best and the most representative of Eric. He looks comfortable, he’s got a natural smile, and the lighting is nice. I did some post processing on all these shots in Lightroom for the crop and exposure. I also messed with the noise and sharpening to try and reduce the noise on his face without losing the detail in his eyes especially.

This week’s live show is on portraits (obviously) and we’ll have special guest Chris Gampat! It’ll be a great show and I look forward to seeing everyone’s submissions.

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7 Responses to Beginner Photography: Portraits

  1. Mike Mendoza June 20, 2017 at 10:44 am #

    Awesome post!! It is fun and frustrating being in the Beginner mode! I was at a family reunion, and though everyone loves my images..a lot of my shots were messed up because I was using a shallow depth of field! uggg….some were perfectly in focus while others were not….Sadly I didnt notice until I put the images on my computer the next day!!

    We live and learn!! 😉

  2. Matt Armon June 20, 2017 at 11:01 am #

    Idk what took me so long to start reading, but i love your blogs. im primarily a video gut but Ive been learning photography for a year now and have started taking more portraits. I love shooting candid or event photos because im out of the way and not intrusive, so my biggest struggle is being in charge and telling people how to pose! Its difficult but loving the learning process!

    • Matt Armon June 20, 2017 at 11:02 am #


    • mm
      SiobhanKyle June 21, 2017 at 9:00 am #

      Well thanks so much for reading! I have a really hard time directing models too, that’s why I end up shooting myself so often.

  3. Roderick June 20, 2017 at 12:38 pm #

    “Game Of Thrones” OR WHAT !!!???
    The setting is great and I like how you managed the harsh light.
    He looks intimidated in no.1 but he is married to you so that probably explains it 😉
    The second last one has a nice presence to it. It makes me think of the look Tony had on his face when he announced to the world that he, “..wrecked that outhouse..” when the gang went off on a trip to the desert.
    The final one shows a “chill dude” – the sort of guy whose as much at home in a mixed martial arts ring or in a bubble bath being photographed by Chelsea Northrup.
    I types it as I sees it 😉
    Take care

    • mm
      SiobhanKyle June 21, 2017 at 8:59 am #

      Haha, good interpretations!

  4. mm
    Andy Shields June 21, 2017 at 10:30 pm #

    Nice job on these Siobhan. I really like the first and the last shots.

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