street portrait series

Street Portrait Series 03 - Downtown St. Petersburg

Model: Savannah -- Nikon D300 Nikkor AF-S 105mm VR micro f/2.8G natural lightAfter a long absence, my Street Portrait Series continued this time in downtown St. Petersburg.  I met up with some fellow local photographers, including Michael Thompson of fame.  I first learned the street portrait approach technique from Michael last year.  I always have a lot of funning doing street portraits so I hope not to take as long for the next entry in the series as I did this time.

Pictured above is Savannah who volunteered to be a model before heading to a concert at Jannus Live.  Savannah said she had never done anything like this before, so to make her feel more relaxed I had her swing around the stop sign post and do a little leg keep to encourage a more natural, and more fun pose.  I think she did a great job!

Model: Clare -- Nikon D300 Nikkor AF-S 105 mm VR micro f/2.8G natural lightClare was the first person photographed that evening and a super good sport as several people gathered around her shooting away.  With more than one lens around, you definitely need to feel comfortable giving the person/model instruction to get a shot you want.  Someone had already asked Clare for an angry look, then I asked her to look at my lens so I did not have to settle for just a profile shot.  She works at Frankie D's Tattoo on 1st Ave North in downtown St. Pete.

Models: Rob & Ashley -- Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 lens Strobist: SB-800 on light stand to frame leftThere is often a great purple toned twilight sky backlighting the buildings of downtown St. Petersburg, and that evening was no exception.  I asked Rob and Ashley to stand on the corner so I could include as much of that purple twilight sky as possible in the shot.  I chose to shoot off level horizon to avoid some obstructions in the shot.  Even with that, I had to delete a building from the right side of the frame.  

Thanks again to all the volunteer models.  I have already sent them all a copy of the photos I took of them, which is proper street portrait etiquette.  I hope to be back out making street portraits again soon.  If you want to learn more about DSLR Photography and combine that with doing street portraits, I have 1-on-1 photography lessons available!

Street Portrait Series 02 - University of Tampa 2

Tanya volunteered for a street portrait on the University of Tampa campus - Nikon D300 with Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 lens @ f/11 ISO 200 1/320th Nikon SB-600 handheld to frame left

This is more a part 2 to the first entry in the Street Portrait Series, as these shots were made on the same day.  This series is about asking people you just see on the street if you can make their portrait.  Tanya, pictured above, was just hanging out on the University of Tampa campus.  I asked her (and Stephanie) if she would not mind letting me take a few photos of her.  She said sure.  So the hard part in street portraits is just getting the nerve up to ask someone.  In my experience so far it seems many people are willing to let you photograph them.  They just want to know what you will do with the photos, so I tell them it is part of a street portrait series I am doing and that I will use them on my website.  That is usually good enough explanation for them and they agree to let me photograph them.

Downtown Tampa provides the backdrop for this shot - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/11 ISO 200 1/250th Nikon SB-600 handheld off camera

Both of these shots were done with my "quick and dirty" method of off camera flash, which just holding the strobe outstretched in my left hand while holding my Nikon D300 in just my right hand.  

How I processed these photographs: 

  • RAW files first processed in Aperture 3 (Nikon D300 default setting)
  • exposure & color correction in Nik Color Efex Pro 3 (polarization, pro contrast, tonal contrast filters)
  • Unsharp Mask applied in Photoshop CS4 (exported from Aperture as a 16-bit TIFF)  
  • some cloning out of the edge of a building in CS4
  • lens distortion filter used on the top image to straighten the building

Street Portrait Series 01 - University of Tampa

Street Portrait of Candid Coeds Chatting -- f/11 ISO 200 1/125th SB-600 handheld off cameraWant to get new ideas?  Go to a photography workshop, even a free one.  My newest photo series, "Street Portraits," was inspired by a workshop by the Lighten Up and Shoot crew who talked about just approaching people on the street and asking if you can make their portrait, or even have them be your model for a little while.  Their workshop was free.  

Combine the inspiration from that workshop with the experience I had during my 2nd DSLR Photography lesson with student Kelley in downtown Tampa, and boom, the Street Portrait Series was born.  All these shots were actually made during Kelley's 4th DSLR photography lesson.  See our setup for the bench shots here, though I only used a single off camera strobe for mine.  He used the dual-strobe setup.  

These dudes were all business -- f/11 ISO 200 1/125th SB-600 handheld off cameraThe basic concept of the street portrait is to setup your lighting gear, then anyone you see walking by, ask them politely if they would like to have their portrait made.  If they say no, just say thanks.  If they say yes, say thanks too!  I always offer to send the person(s) the photograph as well.  Basically you combine street photography with candid portrait photography with off camera flash, with a good amount of being able to be outgoing and brave enough to just ask a stranger to let you photograph them.  I will admit, it certainly helped to have Kelley there, as he is not shy about asking people to let us make their portrait.  

People on the UT campus were very open to be photographed -- f/11 ISO 200 1/250th SB-600 handheld off cameraHowever, I approached the girl (and her friend) above to join in our street portrait experiment.  I would have to say things went very well and several more people (not pictured) let us make their portrait.  Now, all these people were on the University of Tampa campus, no doubt a more likely crowd to let themselves be photographed.  It will be interesting to see how different areas of the city prove to be for street portraits.  I am excited to continue this series and just hope my nerve holds up, especially if I try it alone!

How I processed these photographs: 

  • RAW files first processed in Aperture 3 (Nikon D300 default setting)
  • exposure & color correction in Nik Color Efex Pro 3
  • Unsharp Mask applied in Photoshop CS4 (exported from Aperture as a 16-bit TIFF)
  • "Portrait Drama" filter in Topaz Adjust 3 applied