April 5, 2020

A Ballet Portrait in Oxford

This post is about the ballet portrait that I shot recently in Oxford. However, I will rant about something else first. As a photographer, it is no surprise that we can take a lot of photos with our camera from landscapes, wildlife, people, travel, etc. But as the saying goes, and it rings true for a professional who earns a living by taking photos, specialising is vital. I evolve from street photography, to event photography, and to making and crafting timeless portraits. I always like taking people photos more than any other type of subjects. And the progression coming from street and event photography does help as it involves understanding people’s emotion and reaction.

I consider portrait photography as a branch of art. And with all things art, it is very much subjective and is not defined in a structured way. Some arts speaks to some viewers or clients, while some are not. That is just the way it is. Hence, there is always a different segmentation of the market. Some people like a bright, evenly lit portrait taken with artificial lights in a studio. At the same time, some prefer a natural light of environmental portrait setting. There are no fixed and hard rules to govern the types of portrait photography as it is all subjective. In a nutshell, there is no right or wrong.

I favour more of natural light setting portraits, as it has some uniqueness to them. It is challenging, as you can’t really control the available lights, be it indoor or outdoor. You have to be creative and quick on your feet and mind. But the reward is, the portrait will look natural.

I do bring my flashes to a non-studio portrait session, as sometimes there is not enough light to have a beautiful contrast between the shadow and the light. I always strive for a contrast in a photograph as flat lighting is not really flattering. However, it might work sometimes depending on the mood and concept. Just like the moody portraiture I shot in Port Meadow, Oxford. It was a foggy morning, gloomy day with flat light from the sun, but it suits the theme well. In short, available natural light first, and artificial light to supplement the scene if required. View the moody portraiture concept gallery from the link. https://www.aizatk.com/portfolios/katy/

Portrait photography with natural light will look distinct as it is hard to replicate the exact situation of lighting. It will never be the same, dare I say, forever. That what makes you differ from the millions of other photographers out there. But it takes experience to know the type of available lights, the direction, the colours, and the quality.

And when I arrived in the UK, I fell in love with natural light colours it can provide to my photography, especially outdoors. The lighting from the sun high above is either clearly direct or diffused lights. Unlike in Malaysia, where it will be either and too harsh or too hazy. I am waiting to see how Summer would be like.

It reminds me of a ballet portrait that I shot recently. It is an example of indoor portraiture without any artificial lights added here, where I shoot Victoria Hill School of Ballet in Jericho, Oxford. The dance hall was blessed with big windows and mirrors as is the usual cases of any dance studios. Although the clouds were moving too fast during the day, we managed to get a few shots that look gorgeous. 

I think ballet dancers are amazing with their poses and moves. I would love to have more ballet portrait photography session from ballet clients in the future.

Full gallery from the portrait session is viewable here. https://www.aizatk.com/portfolios/victoria/

You can view more of Victoria Hill School of Ballet official website at http://victoriahillschoolofballet.co.uk/