HDR Portrait, Fashion, and Wedding Photography

See The Updated Version June 08 – Read HDR portrait techniques version 2

Don’t start using HDR. I want to be the only one… This phrase is often pretty close to what goes thru my mind when I think about the potential of properly implemented HDR photography in today’s market. So much so that I have thought of refraining from the subject and keeping the ideas to myself. My thought is this… “If nobody else is using HDR, that will make my work that much more unique” But alas that’s not what PPS is all about, and we’re here both to learn, and to help others learn, so here I go again.

In recent months I have been working to become a sort of guru of HDR. Whether I have succeeded or not will be left up to you, however I do feel that I have a strong enough knowledge of HDR techniques, and its possibilities in the portrait & wedding world to ask other photographers, and organizations What are you waiting for?

Now don’t get me wrong! HDR will boom before long, and when it does you can bet that organizations that are supposed to be leading the industry like WPPI, and PPA will be all over it. Since it’s my job to talk about the latest ideas in the photo world however I will speak on about this topic right here and now. In fact you’ll see that PPS has a special link in the nav bar just for special HDR posts, articles, and news.

What is HDR all about anyways!

You mean you don’t know yet? Well at least after today you’ll have no excuse to avoid trying it out. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. It’s better seen that talked about, so other than the images I’ve included in this article you can see some of my latest HDR portrait implementation in my HDR portraits set on Flickr, as well as on my website of course . Essentially however it’s the combining of multiple images taken at varied exposure levels, and then blended using…

software like Photomatix Pro. Essentially this software blending allows the photographer to selectively choose how much lighting he wants in various parts of the image. You can use our promo code PPS15 to save 15% on Photomatix.

You can also check out two full audio episodes I did recently that talk about HDR in more detail, and will also help get you started. HDR Part1 & HDR Part.

What are you waiting for?
There are a few that are using HDR, and even fewer who are using it during wedding and portrait work. I have not yet seen features in magazines such as Professional Photographer, speaking about the amazing world of HDR, and how it can relate to the pro photographer, and transform image into amazing works of art. All I have to say that those organizations who are supposed to be leaders in the industry is “Get with the program, the time is now”

I’m certainly not saying that someone is a bad photographer, or that they are not creative because they have not implemented HDR into their photography business. But I am writing this to give a little kick start to the photography world. If you as a pro photographer have not started using HDR (for things other than nature) Than you have no idea what your missing.

Put the final touch on your HDR images with Hollywood Effects Photoshop Actions.

Where to start with HDR.

Amazingly there seems to be a relatively small amount of information on HDR as it relates to the pro photographer. By most it’s treated as a fun toy to use with nature photo’s, and not much more. One of the reasons for this could be that HDR portraits are very challenging for the best of photographers. But it all comes down to how much you care. It’s not rocket science, but it does take some time to get the hang of.

The key thing to remember with HDR is Don’t overdo it. I find this to be the most common problem with HDR, and quite possibly one of the reasons that HDR it’s not getting the attention it deserves. Anyone can properly shoot three or four images for an HDR, but to get the magic you have to find a balance in taking images correctly for and HDR, and properly manipulating it in software. Over time you’ll find it becomes easy, and almost second nature. When I shoot an HDR portrait I use a cable release, and auto bracket so I can get three images very quickly. This helps eliminate movement spanning the exposures, but can still be a challenge.

Another thing to consider is that a dramatic HDR is not good for every photo. Sometimes you just don’t want vivid detail throughout the entire scene. Sure an HDR could be toned down to only show the parts of the image you want, but that would mean you went to a lot of extra shooting effort, when you didn’t need to. Don’t try to shoot every image at a wedding, or senior session in HDR. Not only would it be virtually impossible, it would be too much. HDR is like a spice, and balance is the key! To help keep that balance you need good HDR software, (May favorite is Photomatix) and the patience to play with it till it’s just right.

I’ll be publishing articles on technique, implementation, and balance in the near future, as well as tips for good HDR workflow. You can also check out the HDR flickr group. You’ll see both good, and bad HDR work on there, but you’ll also get some ideas rolling around in your brain. Remember to think outside the box. HDR is new ground, and HDR portraiture is even newer. Just experiment and you’ll be making in no time.

Article By Gavin Seim. Wedding & Portrait Photographer