The Genesis Of A 2 Minute Portrait

I always recommend taking as much time as you can to craft your image to perfection. In reality, we’re often limited by time; your subject might only have a few minutes to spare, the light could be fading, or your battery is dying (shame on you for not prepping properly!).

But when photography is your profession, no excuses will cut it for your client. Professional photographers must produce top quality images, especially under pressure.

My client here is the Intercontinental Hotel Group and my subject is 3-Star Michelin Chef Pierre Gagnaire.

We’d already taken quite a bit of his time throughout the day to shoot a video and he was enjoying a short coffee break before starting a busy dinner service. That’s when I spotted some gorgeous light sinking behind the mountain scenery that surrounds the stunning resort.

I knew it would help make a beautiful portrait for my client, but the race was really on: the sun was almost gone and I really didn’t like pestering Chef Gagnaire again, but I just had to. I explained how beautiful the light was and promised it would only take two minutes, which it did. Two minutes exactly and I got the one frame I wanted. Here is my full take from start to finish.

Things to learn from this two minute portrait:

1. Don’t be shy! No one will ever see the beautiful shot you didn’t take because you were too shy to ask someone to take their portrait. The best photographers push boundaries and are never shy.

2. Just ask! But be polite, confident and sell your subject on why it will be worth it – in my experience people feed of this energy and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at your success rate.

3. Have a game plan and get your settings ready! Dial in your settings ahead of time and if you can have someone stand in for you before you approach your subject.  You don’t want to be awkwardly fumbling around with your settings (especially in front of a famous chef – luckily this one had much more patience than the likes of Gordon Ramsey!)

4. Never let them see you sweat! Ok, that’s a tough one for me because I sweat a lot, but what I mean is  be cool and confident. If you are unsure of yourself and what your doing it will make your subject uneasy and most likely will result in a bad portrait.

You can also take a look at my post-production process of this image in Adobe Lightroom.

Check out more photography tips! Look for #AskMott across social channels and tag your posts with this hashtag to ask me any questions you have about being a better photographer.