Portrait Nights At PPS

I think the first step to learn things you didn’t already know about photography is to join a society to meet other photographers like mine. It’s my fifth year at Preston Photographic society and I’d like to talk about one of the aspects of the society that I really enjoy which is the Portrait Nights.

Originally you had to sign up to this and the coordinator booked a model for the evenings which is hosted once a month and invited 5 or 6 people on the list to join him or her on a rota system. Now you buy the £10 ticket in advance which is a system I much prefer, and these are allocated on a first come first served basis.

Each evening starts with setting up the studio lights in a makeshift studio setting. Initially on the portrait nights I used them mostly to learn about how to light a subject as this wasn’t something, I knew much about until I started going to these evenings. In a later post I will discuss my tips on this. Since then I’ve done a master’s in photography, set up as a Freelance photographer and spent hours on end in the studio by myself with models and my own lighting set-ups.

So, for me a lot has changed from my early natural light only portraits up until now with my studio and location work, but I think today could be very different if I didn’t step into these portrait nights.

Portrait nights for me now are about meeting and interacting with brand new models that I haven’t previously encountered. Yes, I do have repeat work with models, but I feel that working with new models gives you challenges because its like starting all over again. What I mean by this is that every person reacts differently to the camera.

I’ve been to early nights where the host did a 10 minute masterclass on shooting models and then we all shoot the models by ourselves in 10 minute slots in there first and second outfits, with our own ideas of poses and directions, based on what you want to get out of the shoot. Then the final setup was to create headshots in short 3-5-minute slots.

Now instead of a master class you take your portraits where if needed you can have input from the other more experienced photographers than you, and the host.  I think this is great because I believe that you learn by doing sometimes rather than watching.

I then go home and spend time editing my images in lightroom and some of these have gone fantastically in the internal portrait competitions that we have at Preston photographic society. Try and guess which images below are from my first ever portrait evening and which ones are from the newer ones and you should see a difference in the images. If you enjoy this post, please comment below.


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