This February I was invited to join the fast-paced and inspirational conference called Seniors Ignite. The conference, this year hosted outside of Las Vegas, focused specifically on senior portrait photography and all elements involved– lighting, posing, business, inspiration and more! The event helps elevate senior portrait photography through lecture by those leading the industry and also a great deal of hands-on shooting through their senior model program.
High school seniors around the country can apply to be part of the program through their host studio, and a limited number are selected to come to the event and be photographed in fashion-editorial style shoots at the annual conference.
While I was at the conference I gave a few lectures and hands-on seminars sponsored by Sigma, one of the main sponsors for the conference. One of the highlights of the event was photographing the winner of the high school senior’s model competition. The Senior Ignite coordinators had held a competition where one lucky senior was selected to win a photo shoot by me! The girl that won, McKinley, was beautiful, energetic, elegant and inspiring herself! She had an incredible life story about overcoming adversity, as well as an incredible smile.
During a 3 hour time period, I led a small group of photographers around the hotel grounds as we photographed McKinley in different locations and different beautiful dresses I had provided through Facebook.com/dreamshootrentals. I would grab a shot to illustrate to photographers what vision I had for the lighting, pose or wardrobe, and then everyone had a chance to photograph and get creative!
We began by going for an ethereal and feminine look with playful colors. Whenever I do female portraits I always start with something that helps you connect with the eyes and the soul of the subject. I sit the subject on the ground and have them look up at me. Using the Sigma 85mm 1.4, I shoot a very wide aperture and focus on their eyes. Because their eyes are closest to the camera, they look large and full. This gives me an opportunity to play with emotion and really connect with the subject through the camera. Here I had McKinley lit by a large bank of open windows. The camera angle and lighting combined really makes her eyes glow. By shooting at f/2.2 the background is merely a suggestion of color instead of a distraction.