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How to Take Portraits with Studio Photgraphy

Learn about portrait photography from professional photographer Chris Ryan in this Howcast video.


My name is Chris Ryan. I'm a photographer. We're here at my studio, Chris Ryan Photography, in northwest Portland. If you'd like to see more of my work, please visit my website at, or if you'd like to follow my daily activities, go to my Facebook page, Chris Ryan Photography in Portland, Oregon. Today, I'm going to talk to you about studio photography. A little bit about portrait photography in general: we've set up a shoot here that is representative of a corporate portrait shoot, similar to a head shot, but a little bit more business like, a little bit more formal. So Marika, our model, is placed on a stool, that so she can be comfortable and get in the right position. We changed the background to something a little bit more professional; we have a backlight hitting the background, to give some separation between the subject and the background, doing a little contrast. I like to match what the subject is wearing with the color of the light that hits the background, and so, since Marika has sort of neutral tones in her attire and her skin, I'm chosen a color that sort of goes with the background, again, I think it gives it sort of a professional portrait look, and so the color I've chosen is blue. The lighting scenario is very sort of formal and straightforward: we have a main light here, off to her right and we have a fill light off to her left; they're ratioed so that the main light is a little more powerful than the fill light and both of these have large soft boxes on them. And then back here we have a strip box which is functioning as an edge light, giving her a little bit of a stronger light on this side of her profile, and again, this is ratioed up a little bit, just a touch more than the main light, again, to give it that obvious edge and separate it from the rest of the lights.

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