Photographing Jordan - A Digital Photography Case Study

Photographing Jordan – A Digital Photography Case Study

Photography-Case-StudyFrom time to time I would like to start featuring case studies by photographers talking about an image or series of images that they’ve taken. My hope is that in doing so they’ll shed some light for the rest of us on how they work, what techniques they use, what lessons they’ve learned and what they see themselves being able to improve upon.

The following brief photographic case study was submitted by Grant Dopson from GMD Photography. Thanks for Grant being willing to be our first featured case study. If you are interested in being featured in a future case study simply contact us via our submissions page with details of your idea. Here’s Grant’s tip.

Location: Vulcan Park – Birmingham, AL
Date: Thursday, August 24, 2006
Time: 7:30PM – 9:00PM

Equipment used:

This was my first time shooting with Jordan. I had met her a few weeks ago and she had already had some head shots taken a while back, but mainly just for fun. I want to start off now and say that the equipment and location are just a small part of making a great shoot. What really makes the difference is the model. Their attitude and commitment to the job is what makes good pictures. Jordan was one of these great people.

Photographic-Case-StudyWe went to Vulcan Park in Birmingham, AL. I really like it up there because it over looks the city and is never crowded. We got there a little late and the sun had already set. I would have liked to have gotten there sooner but I forget that fall is coming up fast and the sun sets a lot earlier. I set my camera to aperture mode and set to 1.8/f.

I was able to get in a few shots with out any flash but then they started getting blurry. Once you hit slower than 1/60th of a second, the exposures will not be sharp without a tripod. I attached the PocketBounce to my flash and started shooting again. I really like this device because it really lessens the harshness of the flash by bouncing the light and it has a gold or silver insert to really change the look. I bumped up the flash exposure a bit when using the bounce because it sometimes lessens it too much. We took a few more shots outside then went to the staircase inside the statue’s pedestal.

I then switched my camera to Auto for these indoor shots and the flash exposure value was set back to 0. I took off the flash bounce and started to shoot with the flash aimed head on. This caused some overexposure and harsh shadows due to the white marble walls. I then decided to move the flash head to bounce off the wall next to her.

I was amazed at the results. The flash really brought out her hair and skin color without losing any detail in her dress or the coloring of the walls. The light looks so good in some shots; it almost looks like I have a softbox setup next to her. She was a lot of fun to work with and I plan on doing more shoots with her in the near future. If you have any additional questions about the shoot, please let me know.

Thanks again to Grant Dopson from GMD Photography for this case study. If you have a question, comment or suggestion relating to Grant’s photos – please feel free to leave them below in our comments section.

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

Some Older Comments

  • edwina April 11, 2009 09:11 pm

    so really beautiful...

  • wow October 29, 2007 09:21 pm

    Wow Wow Wow!
    Seriously. I need to head out to Alabama.
    By the way nice model!

  • Jeff October 18, 2007 03:08 pm

    I think the first photo is nice. Her direct gaze into the lens makes it look like she is staring into my soul.

  • Atul Chitnis May 9, 2007 02:48 am

    A comment about Jordan - her face is so symmetrical it's almost eerie!

  • mustafa gönül March 8, 2007 10:37 pm

    internette dolaşırken fotoğrafını gördüm

    Ne kadar masum bi güzelliğin var, belli ki Allah özenip yaratmış.

    Ben de D80 kullanıcısıyım, daha yeni başladım emekleme dönemindeyim.

    İyi fotoğraflar çekmen dileğiyle ışığın bol olsun....


  • Janice December 28, 2006 03:29 pm

    I thought the first picture of Jordan was the best. I understand why some might think it close to a mugshot, but I think it's only similar in that the photo is straight on. I look for photos that take my breath away. This picture did, when the second did not. It would be easy to get a mugshot. Not so easy to get the results of this particular model, with this particular artist behind the camera.

  • Engin December 23, 2006 08:59 pm

    Very nice lesson. Thanks friend ;)

  • Gopala Krishnan October 24, 2006 06:46 pm

    any more pics from this shoot. would like to see more of this case study.

  • Grant Dopson September 4, 2006 01:14 pm

    Thanks to everyone for the great comments! My main site is a little old. Most of the shots are from a while back with a non-SLR camera. I have just been too busy to get it updated and I apologize. My latest and best work is on my Flickr account. I have a lot more pictures of Jordan from the shoot on the site as well. Any more questions, please email me. Thank you again.

  • Ken T. (Fort Lauderdale, Fl.) September 3, 2006 05:10 pm

    Grant, I would like to start by saying nice shots and I definitely see the improvement from the photos on your site. I would add these to your site portfolio. I agree that it does help to have a good model to work with. On the flip side I would like to add a few suggestions myself or thoughts to consider in the future because I feel like we can all help each other.
    The first shot I can see where some may feel it gives that mug shot image. I think in this case it is the expression on the face. Maybe an approach of talking to the model while shooting and loosening her up might not give her such a stiff appearance. I would guess this was one of the earlier pictures taken before the comfort level set in. I would also show a little more of her body and maybe try a posing her creating attractive angles. I don't necessarily mean sexy, although I am sure she can pull it off ... just not so stiff. I don't know if it was purposely done but your choice of the black dress, red hair and white background ... perfect! With the right composition (the angle of body etc. as mentioned by one reviewer) you have an unbelievable shot! When I try for portraits, and mind you I am no professional but working towards it, I try to always get the eyes to tell a story (talking to the model and rolling off a number of shots I find helps) whether it is beginning, middle, end or all of the above. You should be able to see happiness, sadness, jealousy, flirting, sexiness etc. in the eyes. Like they say, they are the doors to the soul.
    The second shot was composed fantastically! I do agree with Ken with the background taking away from the model. I take it you used the gold insert on the flash for that photo. Again, I am not a pro and I don't know if Kevin is but I don't agree with the color comment on the model. With that background, it may not work as well as it might on a beach seen taken at say ... sunrise or sunset ... maybe moreso sunset to give that warmer tone. The cool (temp) background and warm glow of the model don't really mix as well as it could and maybe that is what Ken was referring to with your color balance (I just wanted you to have explanation of it). Your work is showing improvement Grant and if we all had to listen to guys like Kevin none of us would be shooting another shot. You start, you learn, you improve. I noticed you shot a lot with AP and Shutter priority. I would really start practicing that manual mode. I have found that that works great for me. I will use Shutter Priority sometimes when I am going for some special effects and need to get it done quickly but with portraits ... take your time ... pose, compose, recompose if necessary and shoot. Don't forget all the other things like lighting etc but take your time. I have a great book for you if you would like to learn more on exposure and shooting more stuff manually. I will contact you via your site.
    Again Grant, keep shooting and nice work! We'll all learn together. Us IT guys have to stick together! Sorry guys about the long review but thought it would be helpful to all of us learning.

  • Paul S. September 3, 2006 03:13 am

    Nice shots, the firt does look like a mugshot or passport pose but as Darren said, it's an opportunity for learning. I would have liked to have seen a few more pictures maybe some n B&W.

  • John Prince September 2, 2006 05:45 pm

    Am not an expert in photography,but am in an urge of learning it,and i am learning through sites like these and case studies like mentioned above.
    I totally agree with Darren's view over it. This is only a case study where people share their works.
    I really appreciate both the pics taken. I like the model too. Especially the second pic used with a pocket bounce,i believe i should try it out too.The gold coloring resting over her face is awesome. Keep going with more pics...espcailly with the same model.

  • Darren September 2, 2006 08:06 am

    Ok gang - the idea of the Case study is that we don't post perfect photos - but we post photos that we (both the photographer and the rest of us) can learn something from. It's like at school when the teacher would get students up to show and explain their work to the rest of the class their work (ie not perfect work, but a learning experience for everyone).

    If you want to say something about the photos you're welcome to do so, however I'd encourage you to say something constructive (as some of you have done).

  • fudged September 2, 2006 07:48 am

    now... how do you pull this off with an ugly broad?

  • Kevin September 2, 2006 03:38 am

    I agree with Ken with everything except the first pose. I like the pose. But everything else is very true. But beyond all of this, the photographer's website is far from impressive. Half of the shots are blurry and half of the rest are shots of someone's front yard with less than good composition. If this is a Digital Photography School, I think there ought to be more discernment in choosing who is qualified to post articles here. I don't mean to be harsh and I wish the photographer much success in his photography, but I really don't think he ought to be showing others something that really isn't that great.

  • Col September 2, 2006 01:48 am

    I disagree with the comment about the first photograph by 'Ken'. The look on the model's face is perfect. It could have been a mug-shot photo but instead I think the model makes a good conection with the viewer.

  • Aryo September 1, 2006 07:45 pm

    more picture please :D, and can you add a small note on each of the picture?

  • Ken September 1, 2006 05:21 pm

    First off, you've got a very pretty model.

    Secondly, although I'm no expert myself, I hope the following comments are taken in the constructive way they are intended...

    In the first photograph I would not have the model looking straight at the camera. It looks too much like a police mug-shot to me. Next time have her turn her head slightly and/or not look directly at the camera, and ask her to show some expression (smile, surprise, enjoyment, or whatever - something that gives more interest to the viewer).

    In the second photograph I like the model's pose but there is either a major problem with the colour balance or she has real bad sunburn. The bright background above her head is also a little distracting - some work in an image editing program could fix both of those things.

    Thanks for showing your photographs and keep shooting!

  • dennis September 1, 2006 05:12 pm

    Nice Chick :D

  • Helena September 1, 2006 01:48 am

    Congratulations. I can only envy1

  • Fred August 31, 2006 11:01 am

    My only question is this - where do you meet women like that? Wow.

    Nice photos by the way and please - more case studies!