Like any specific type of photography, studio portraiture can be difficult to master. Here instructor and professional photographer Dave Bever breaks it down with a few tips and some visual inspiration.


What are two tips you have for taking studio portrait photos?

1. Use of a hair light greatly increases the depth of any portrait, creating a dramatic and pleasing image.

2. Create separation between your subject and your background - this can be accomplished by controlling your depth of field outdoors, or by lighting your subject two stops brighter (against a black background) or darker against a white background.

Or you can simply use BEVERs 5 rules of portraiture:

1. Connect with your subject - establish a relationship

2. Focus on the eyes

3. Control the light and the shadows on your subject

4. Control the background by controlling the depth of field or its brightness

5. Fill the frame with your subject


Is there a particular portrait photographer whose work you admire?

Kevin Kobota.  He does absolutely amazing photography using speed lights.  He controls every aspect of light, to produce absolutely stunning images.

Kevin Kobota
Kevin Kobota

What is one piece of photographing equipment you couldn't do without when taking these types of photos?

For me, the most useful piece of equipment is simply a VERY LARGE silver reflective umbrella.  With this, one can produce stunning soft-lit images - great for group or boudoir images.


*Dave will be teaching a studio portrait lighting workshop on Saturday, August 3. Click here for more details and to reserve your spot!


1. How is Still Life Artistry different from everyday photography of

Still Life Artistry is all about intentional lighting rather than simply pointing the camera at an interesting subject and clicking the shutter. The workshop will explore a number of different approaches to lighting small subjects and assembling a finely crafted image. We will be working with some light painting techniques that are only possible with digital capture but are very accessible to the average photographer, require no special lighting equipment, and easy and fun to do. After images are captured, they do need to be "assembled" in Photoshop, so that will be an important aspect of the workshop.


2. Which photographers or projects have been an
inspiration to you as you've pursued this particular type of photography?

I arrived at many of these techniques through my own experimentation about 12 years ago but other expert practitioners include Jim DiVatele : http://www.divitalephotography.com and Eric Curry: http://www.americanprideandpassion.com/photographs.php


3. Is there any particular project that has been your favorite or has stood
out from the others in some way?

I have used these special lighting techniques on a number of projects over the years, most recently in unpublished personal work — one of my more recent commercial assignments was to re-create a train crash as a night time scene using miniature trains -- this was for an ad-comp for the movie poster for Steven Spielberg's Super 8 sci-fi movie. I was able to create a convincing image using heat gun distressed model trains and flashlights!



Lee Varis will be joining us at Paul's Photo for a Still Life Artistry workshop on Saturday and Sunday, July 20-21. Sign up here! You can also call 310-375-7014 to register.