Dreamy Portraits with Katie Jade Durham
Katie and I have been working together now and then, ever since our first meeting. We have created a portfolio of works and worked on improving her portfolio since her very first foray into modeling. Katie’s first was when we collaborated on some fashion/apparel portraits for a mutual friend’s alternative apparel line. This time around the goal was to create softer, more sensual and dreamy portraits in my studio to be used in our respective portfolios.
The best way to approach something this style of portrait is twofold. One is to use natural light and second is to shoot with as wide open an aperture as possible. I also wanted to retaining sharp focus on Katie’s eye(s). I find if the aperture is stopped down to the lens’ sweet spot, it starts to inject too much depth of field (sharpness in more of the areas which I want to remain soft) which would add contrast and take away from the dreamy quality I want to produce for this series.
Portrait Perfect Lens
I used my Sigma 85mm f/1.4 EX DG ART lens for this session, as I have been for most of my studio portrait sessions lately. The sweet spot on this lens is somewhere around f/2.8 to f/3.5. I chose to shoot wider than f/3.5, shooting some at the widest aperture of f/1.4 for some of the later images when the light of day was beginning to fade. Most of the images below were shot at f/1.8 producing good sharpness from the front of the eyeball/lashes to the corners of the eye socket. I always want the eye(s) to be the sharpest when it comes to portraiture.
I used no artificial light for these images, only window light from the sun. Some light modification was done through the use of a 5-in-1 reflector and the sheer curtains surrounding the window. I also employed an old white tabletop that was hanging around the studio as a reflector. I didn’t have an second 5-in-1 reflector or flats handy. The old beat up flats I used to use last year were left at my previous studio before the move. The reflectors for this series were simply arranged to bounce as much light as possible back into the shadows, to illuminate the front of Katie. Without the reflectors, Katie’s face was deeply in shadow. That would not lend well to create dreamy portraits.
DIY Tip: You don’t need to spend a whole load of money on gear with a brand name and high price. Use whatever you have that will get the job done. I just needed a white surface to bounce light back at the model. The larger the better. The white table top worked perfectly and didn’t cost me a thing! 🙂