How to achieve street portraiture
Updated: May 30, 2019
Hi there friends! For those of you who personally know me or have seen my previous work, you are use to the fact that I love to get my hand in on capturing portraits. Whether it be of my own babies, other babies, friends who are expecting or family. However, I've made it a goal to venture out and take more portraits but this time, with a purpose. A family friend is graduating high school and my daughter is graduating elementary school. Both are milestones to a child/ teen's life and I have to admit .... I am enjoying my own discovery in shooting with this milestone in mind. Especially now since it's graduation season.
For this session I decided to choose Long Island City, Queens because I'm familiar with the area. I carry many family memories here and I love the vibe and view of NYC from here. The reason I chose to categorize this post on how to achieve street portraiture is because although these are graduation photos the same format applies for any kind of portraits outdoors.. For this session, I was familiar with the location but I still kept an open mind on how I would go about capturing both girls.
Being at Gantry Plaza State Park, there is no missing the Long Island sign at the pier so I chose to shoot Courtney in front of the sign and to edit it in black and white because it adds to the urban feel of the area. This is a wider shot because I wanted to incorporate as much in the frame. Yes, she is not front and center but she's still the star and that's what I wanted to aim and capture. Personality, location and edit all work together to make a well balanced composed shot.
For Isabel, we were in the same location but instead of focusing on the Queens side, I chose to get the city skyline in the background, close to a cute lamp post and her peaking out from behind the tree. I wanted to keep it very child like and fun. To me, this very same location holds a very special place in my heart. I had a picnic on a blanket with Isabel when she was one on this very same patch of grass. I had all the new mom feels at that moment. In disbelief I was having a picnic with my tater tot and that I was raising a child so fast forward to me now taking this photo, I'm sure you can imagine the surge of emotions I experience as I was asking her to look at me and smile. Ok, let me stop because my tears are starting to make their way down my cheeks.
Something I appreciate about the LIC area is that its not as congested as NYC. You are able to get the "city feel" without feeling like you are going to be trampled on or that you are going to have other people all in your frame. Capturing Courtney in this street where, happily there was a cab in the background added to the look I was going for. I wanted to play with this angles of the bricks as she looked to me. It took a few attempts to get the photo I wanted but as anything else.... put time into it until you get the end result you want.
For this next photo, I also wanted to play with angles and depth so when I saw this rail I asked Izzy to sit at the far end and let me try to get different shots. I was pleased with how it came out. A lesson I learned from this photo was, go with your gut. Originally there were people off loading from a ferry near by so I thought maybe it would get congested but we just hung back and instead of them going up the ramp we were close to they scattered in other directions. The lesson? If you have a vision of a "shot" you want to attempt to take... Do it! Even if takes more time or you have to come back and try again. Always always, go with what you are envisioning.
The last photo I will discuss is of Courtney on a stoop with a bright red door in the background. I can't stress enough how important and fun it is to seek backgrounds that are unique and full of character. Walk down the streets that are the less crowded or stop and look for walls, gates, doors, columns or fences that can bring life to a photo. You will become so in tune to these sort of things that they will just happen to be part of your outdoor photo shoot checklists going forward.
It is my hope that I've been able to help and inspire you for your next photo session. Remember to blend personalities of who you are taking photos of with the location. Play on angles, outside energy and traits or characteristics that are true to the area that you are choosing to take your photos at. Have fun and enjoy the process!