Explore with your subject

Nikon D3S, 85mm ƒ/1.4, ISO 200, ƒ/1.4, 1/5000

I was asked a couple years ago to make environmental portraits of the students in the executive MBA program at Georgia Tech. I would take about 15 minutes and walk around with the student at the campus and create these photos you see here.

The setup for all these photos is pretty simple and not all that different in each photo.

KISS Method

Keep It Simple Stupid: I think TTL off camera flash is really simple to use. If it is too bright turn down the flash by adjusting the flash compensation to -1, -2, or whatever. If too dark go the opposite direction of +1, +2 or more.

You can make the background darker by underexposing the camera by adjusting the exposure compensation the same way as you did the flash, except this time you adjust the camera and not the flash.

Nikon D3S, 85mm ƒ/1.4, ISO 1000, ƒ/1.4, 1/8000

In this photo I cranked up the ISO a bit to lighten the background and the flash is just winking in just a bit.

Nikon D3S, 85mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 200, ƒ/1.4, 1/125

The basic setup never changed and I just moved around to get the three different look. I still wanted some variety so we moved.

Nikon D3S, 85mm ƒ/1.4, ISO 200, ƒ/1.4, 1/1600

I moved him the street from the courtyard. I thought this caught the “executive” look a little better.

Nikon D3S, 85mm ƒ/1.4, ISO 200, ƒ/1.4, 1/1000

I like the shallow depth-of-field so that I am helping the subject “pop out” from the background. This is a way to take a busy background and still use it but subdue it.

Nikon D3S, 85mm ƒ/1.4, ISO 200, ƒ/1.4, 1/1600

One more thing I think is worth noting other than I changed locations and kept the depth-of-field shallow, I kept the camera below eye level. I wanted the audience to look up to him. This is my way of trying to create the sense of authority.

While the flash help add catch light in his eyes and give some shape to his face it also had another benefit. It assured me that I was using a full spectrum of light helping me render the best skin tones.

Take your camera and find a subject and go shoot your own “executive” portraits.