Master Class
While Strolling Through The Park One Day Part II

Photos © 2002, Monte Zucker, All Rights Reserved

I began my column last month by saying, "I really never know what to expect when I'm taking one of my classes on a field trip." Boy, is that the truth! Since I began this column a couple of weeks ago I've been on several more field trips, all of which have continued to show me that my basic training in classic portraiture has proven to be an invaluable training ground.

With all of my experience with posing and lighting, I've been able to loosen up and know when things look good "as is," as well as when I need to "tweak" things just a little bit to make them even better. It's that knowledge in the back of my head that has given me a freedom of expression through my photography. Last month we finished up our story with a family portrait on a bridge. Still at the bridge, I saw the potential for a bridal portrait. I posed our bride just under the outside edge of the blooming tree. The open light in front of her and behind her highlighted her face and the train of her gown. Her face retained beautiful portrait lighting on her profile. The entrance to the bridge framed her beautifully for extra depth perception in the picture.

All natural light. Of course, I took advantage of the natural direction of the light to shape her face and body. For the back profile view of her I was (1) careful to keep the train of the gown behind her, (2) show a little of her bust line to retain the beautiful feminine shape of her body, and (3) to photograph an exact profile view of her face.

As we walked over the bridge I looked down and saw a perfect opportunity to photograph with a lot of depth and have none of the bright sky interfere with the deep background. I had the bride and groom stroll a couple of times down the side of the creek. I told them to hold hands and keep talking with each other. It was a natural.

A short while later I came across a field with a path leading up on the left. It was a natural background for more pictures.

I thought that I'd try for another family picture there. No way were we going to keep the little girl in one spot. The father put her on his shoulders. This kept her sorta still for a few moments--at least long enough to get this fun picture. All natural light, of course. Backlight-ing and an open sky for frontal lighting.

A pair of sunglasses kept her occupied long enough for another snap. Actually, the composition of her against the group of three looked pretty good, I thought. Don't you agree?

The background was perfect! The animation in everyone's faces was more than one can expect during a family portrait sitting. I loved it!

For our afternoon stroll through the park we had the privilege of having a grandmother come along with her three grandchildren. She bought them checkered shirts, which I would never have agreed to had she told me about them in advance. When I saw the kids dressed up in them, however, I realized that this was North Carolina and that this was perfect for them. I loved the outfits.

As we walked through the paths we came across this rock-edged pass. It was just too good to pass up. I asked the four of them to walk hand in hand and just to talk with each other. They made several passes before I got them to open up wide enough so that we could see all four of their bodies and a good view of each of their faces. Look like it "just happened"? Well, it did--after three or four tries.

At the end of the path there was an opening. Perfect. I posed the bride and groom on the outside edge of the tree-lined path, the open sky lighting her profile. There was no light on his face, so I had someone hold a silver reflector to light his profile.

Here's the same view from the other side.

Most photographers would shoot from this direction: the open sky flat-lighting the two of them. Instead, you can see why I was on the other side of them, photographing into their shadowed side. If you look carefully you can see the man behind the tree holding a reflector to throw light onto the groom's face.

At the end of the trail, we came across this log cabin in the woods. The groom suggested that it might be their honeymoon spot, so I took a picture of them approaching the cabin.

Notice the way I kept them close to the camera and placed them against the simple background of the grass to keep them prominent in the photograph. Of course the backlighting from the open sky helped to separate them from the background. That's why I always try to shoot from the shadowed side of my subjects toward the open light. Works well, doesn't it?

Did you notice the walk-through in the center of the cabin? What a natural for portraiture! The photographer stands just inside, under the roof. The subject stands just on the outside edge of the roof. Then, you simply turn the subject away from the light until you get perfect profile lighting.

A silver reflector, inside, points upward toward the sky and reflects some light back onto the subject's face to open up the shadows. Then, if you want a simple, high-key background all you have to do is hold up a translucent panel behind your subject.

The light comes through the background to create a perfect high-key background.

How simple can it be? Oh man, it just doesn't get any better than this!

More pictures from the field trip next month. In the meantime, have you become a member of our Zuga family yet? Get over to and join today!