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Northwest Portland Studio Shoot


If you're an aspiring photographer, it's likely that you've pondered the idea of stepping out from natural light portraiture and into the world of studio work. But how does one make such a transition? Indoor studios can seem (1) expensive and (2) intimidating, but you're not alone. I know I'm still trying to navigate the intricacies of artificial lighting and coming up with editorial concepts that are "fresh" and "never been done before".


Regardless of your reluctance, the best way of learning is by doing.


To combat the first issue of working on a budget, I reached out to local photographers around my age who I met through Instagram. After months of the occasional comment and like on the others' posts, I figured it was about time I met some of my fellow up and coming artists. Despite never meeting in person, I made a group chat asking if they'd like to rent a studio in downtown Portland, OR together, splitting the price, making the rental very affordable for each of us. I also asked each photographer to invite a friend who had experience in front of a camera, and give them a specific concept to go off of when selecting outfits. This way, we could all work with subjects who we hadn't worked with before, and have a variety of looks to go off of when sharing the space. Any growing photographer knows that you can only ask your friends to model for you SO many times before your work gets stale and repetitive.


Luckily, this method of working with other creatives also helps to combat the second issue of studio rentals: the intimidation factor. Surrounding yourself with other photographers of similar experience provides the opportunity to bounce ideas back and forth and really get those creative juices flowing. It brought me some comfort knowing that we were all trying to figure out backdrops, model concepts, and lighting together.


For your first studio experience, I'd recommend finding a natural light studio. For this shoot, we collectively decided on Studio Northwest in Portland, for their reasonable pricing and diverse offering of backdrops and prop furniture. Even on an overcast day like ours, a space with big windows makes the transition from outdoor portraiture to indoor, much smoother. The single source of light might give way for more shadows, but darkness can also be a creative tool to construct dramaticism and interesting shapes.


The concepts the other photographers and I established for our models were simple based on budget and rushed timeframe, but they opened up ideas for another day (as we definitely plan on setting up another shoot in the nearby future).


These photographers are on Instagram: @annikamagnusenphotography @vivianlephoto @makenakrausephotography


Our lovely models were: @anya_wang_ @emerald.kan @cly_jr8 @tristen.mccampbell





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