For the past three years, I’ve been entrusted to take photos of graduating kindergarteners at my kids’ Montessori school. This year, I had the honor of also taking headshots of the teachers for the yearbook. The first year I did it, I was so nervous that my hands were shaking and, looking back at it, I really messed it up – the photos were quite blurry due to the aforementioned shaky hands, and I ended up totally over-processing them on the post. Last year I did better – I was smart enough to bring my tripod so the issues caused by shaky hands the previous year were eliminated, and my Photoshop skills had improved a bit, but I still relied too much on a Photoshop plug-in (Portrait Pro) to do most of the editing for me, resulting in images that I would not be proud of now.
This year I planned it all out much better and, although I realized at the last moment that the quick-release plate for my tripod had gone missing, I’ve gained enough confidence in my ability to photograph various people in different settings that I did not really need to rely on the tripod for the shoot – my hands were just fine with not the least bit of shake. I’ve also learned many new tricks in Photoshop and rarely rely on any add-on to do anything for me. In fact, I can’t even remember the last time I used Portrait Pro, although I still take advantage of Nik software sometimes.
This is the portrait I took of my oldest, who is going to graduate kindergarten this year, in her cap and gown. For once, she was really excited to have her picture taken, but it surprisingly hard to get a nice natural smile out of her. I’m pretty happy with the final result though. Although, who knows, next year maybe I’ll look back at it and shake my head in embarrassment about the quality of this shot.
(85mm, ISO 100, f/4.5, 1/160 sec + speedlight with 24×24 softbox on camera right)