Tips on Portrait Photography

Portrait photography is a niche segment, which requires good understanding of both technical and aesthetic aspects of camera work. It aims to highlight human emotions or specific aspects and details of the subject. Creative execution of different elements of portrait photography, such as lighting and composition, can add to the flavor of the photograph.

Portrait Photography: Essential Tips

Here are some essential tips that include both the technical as well as creative aspects of portrait photography:

  • Preproduction work: Complete your pre production work well in advance. In an indoor set up, pre-production work includes creating the set, arranging lights, working on camera angles and deciding on props. For an outdoor photo, pre-production work encompasses all the work required in the indoor shoot as well as selecting a location and seeking due approval from the local authorities.
  • Relax your subject: The success of a portrait photography shoot entirely depends on the performance of the model. Extracting the best out of a model is an art and this skill improves with experience. A photographer should know how to train his models according to the requirements of the photo shoot. One of the best techniques is to relax your subject before and during the photo shoot. Initiate a conversation or discuss photographs with the subject to make him/her feel comfortable with the surroundings. Photographers sometimes also play music or create a casual environment to relax their subjects.
  • Select the focus of the photograph: In a general portrait photo shoot, the focus remains on emotions and the style quotient. However, for a product-related portrait photo shoot, the focus shifts to the creative portrayal of that product. Understanding the fine line between two different motives of portrait photography is very essential for a successful career.
  • The art of composition: The aesthetic sense of a photograph is revealed in the composition. One can follow set industry standards, such as ‘Rule of Thirds’, for a perfect image. However, an experienced photographer usually tends to exploit the rules to create a more exciting piece of art. You can experiment with medium close, close-up and big close-up compositions for good results.

Avoid excessive use of props while taking portrait photographs. Props tend to diffuse the focus of the image to secondary elements. Use low-key lighting for interesting results. It helps to highlight the focus of the image and enhance its appeal.

Blog digging producer Ryan Hemsworth a long way from Halifax

Ryan Hemsworth

Ryan Hemsworth, a 22-year-old bedroom producer from Halifax, has risen to recognition over the past year with a couple of blog-hyped EPs, and is now commissioned to do remixes for the likes of French “electro-bro” Brodinski’s label, Bromance Records. I discussed his strategy in theJuly issue of AUX’s ipad magazine. Aside from producing for nu rappers like Main Attraktionz, he’s got a knack for remixing a mash of genres, from pop to RnB. Speaking of which, you’ll likely hear his 48-hour-old remix of Frank Ocean’s Thinkin Bout You this Saturday as he plays Wrongbar’s monthly SLOWED event in Toronto.

Here is the rest of my  interview with Hemsworth, who plans to drop an new EP, Last Words, this month. Now living in Ottawa for the summer, he talks about being the centre of attention when he DJs, spinning music that is too slow for me to dance to, and how he now gets 30,000 hits on his Soundcloud tracks despite being so new, and rarely having met anyone he’s working with.

What are you listening to these days, and how would you describe your own music?

I listen to as much music as I can, whether it’s house, UK dance, rap, old, new, whatever. I’m honestly making a few different styles of music. I produce rap for rappers and as a solo artist I make dance music, dark electronic music.

Who are your fav rappers right now?

Main Attrakionz, Danny Brown, Meek Mill, Gunplay, Flocka, Travis Porter, and I’m always into Three 6 Mafia, Tommy Wright, and other Memphis artists’ back catalogue.
Cold & Tempted by Ryan Hemsworth

How does someone from Halifax hook up with making beats for stoner rappers from Oakland?

I’ve never met Shady Blaze or any of the rappers I work with. We’ve communicated and collaborated entirely through emails and Twitter. I’ve been working with him for a while. He’s a super quick worker, we did a free album last summer (Distorted) in no time at all. I just emailed him one day some time in 2011 and asked if he needed beats. He said yes, and we sent stuff back and forth (at a pretty rapid pace sometimes; he works as fast as he raps).

What kind of music were you raised on, and does that influence your production work? (I hear a lot of melody, so I’m guessing you listened to some pop and maybe rock).

In middle school I mainly listened to 90s rock, grunge and all that, but I’ve always loved pop music and appreciated creating something special out of a simple song formula. Listening to every type of music is important to understanding what you like, don’t like, and what works and doesn’t in every context. I enjoy digesting a lot of different genres at a time, which is probably why it makes sense to me to go from Bjork to Dipset in a mix.
Thinkin Bout You (Ryan Hemsworth Bootleg) by Frank Ocean

Your house track “Deros” seems a bit left field compared to your other productions. Are you a house and techno fan and do you see yourself doing more of that in future?

That track was a quick experiment. Once in a while I’ll try to do something different, in that case I was trying to make some darker house, I think. I don’t think it’s healthy to get too comfortable with a certain sound, it gives people a lot to talk about if they want to pigeonhole you or criticize your style. I like house though, I’m a big fan of Brodinski and what Club Cheval are doing in France right now. Maybe I’ll make more stuff like that next week, who knows.
Deros by Ryan Hemsworth

How do you play live? Are you shy of being the centre of attention, and do you consider yourself performing or just part of the party?

I use Ableton for my live sets. My mixes are a reflection of how my performances go down, minus the sweat and all that. I still surprise myself, in that I’m not too nervous to perform really. My brain is weird and instead of panicking before a show, I get sleepy. So pre-show, I’m probably backstage looking like I’m about to nod off, which isn’t a good look, but as soon as I’m up and performing it’s always an electric feeling. As for performing, it’s give and take. The music and performance facilitates the party, but the performer and audience go hand in hand – we’re all hoping the night doesn’t end up sucking.

I find a lot of the music (like what you and Shlomo play) is almost too slow to dance to. Are you concerned with people dancing at your DJ shows?

I share the same mindset as Shlohmo – it’s more interesting to make emotional music at home, but when you get to the club, no one wants to be sad and have a bummer time listening to your slow stuff on a Friday night. In my sets nowadays I literally go from half-time, double-time, to four-on-the-floor and back. I think that’s surprising to people, especially if you’re used to going to house shows or certain nights that is a consistent speed and style the entire time. I’m not a fan of listening to the same stuff all night and I think the element of surprise is important, so I’m not scared if people get a little put off by that or aren’t sure how to react (as long as they’re not walking away). Every show is a learning experience.

Ryan Hemsworth – SLOWED SUMMER by Scion Sessions

What’s next for you?

I’m just finishing up my next EP, which is coming out in August with Wedidit Collective, who I’m working with now. Shlohmo, RL Grime and Groundislava are just a few on the team, it’s really just a group of some of my favourite artists so I’m really excited to be a part of it. I’ve got some remixes lined up from Shlohmo, Canblaster and Sam Tiba to name a few. And I’ve got more production to come for Deniro Farrar and Main Attrakionz.

But I heard you’re graduated from journalism school – what do you plan to do with that?

I’ve finished studying at University of King’s College in Halifax this year. I’m in Ottawa for at least this summer and we’ll see after that. I just finished school in the city I grew up in all my life, so naturally I’m taking some time away from both of those things. Hopefully music can keep me afloat because I’m not too interested in reporting on boring local news right now.

Tampons, A&R hawks and heavy metal acceptance

dentata tampon

Having recovered from Canadian Music Week, we have a few observations to share beyond the usual “this band played, they were good” reviews.

Major labels: Good luck scouting the underground

As major labels continue to cannibalize each other, some say into complete irrelevency, you might think big deals at CMW are a thing of the past. So I was shocked to see a group of grey-haired suited-up men from one of the “Big 4″ major labels scouting Toronto jazz-hip hop fusers Badbadnotgood and Montreal DJ/producer Lunice at Wrongbar Friday. “He’s a cute little bugger isn’t he?” one of them remarked of Lunice. Bugger? I responded that I’ve been eyeing him for a while. Interest in Lunice has likely doubled since he’s paired with Scottish electronic prodigy Hudson Mohawke to for a bass-hip-hop project calledTNGHT. The president of said major label was particularly smitten with Montreal singer-producer Ango, who took the stage with BBNG for a rendition of Sade’sNo Ordinary Love. Still, I don’t see any of these acts wanting to sign to a major, and the A&R reps were too busy drinking to notice a more unknown breakout act, a last-minute opener from Montreal named Black Iris Black Atlass – a doomed soulful voice which could rival The Weeknd. – Marsha Casselman

The date change wasn’t such a bad thing after all

There was some hand-wringing this year about CMW’s controversial decision (at least among insider types) to move the festival from its usual pre-SXSW perch to the week after the Texas fest. The date change didn’t exactly bring in a huge payload of notable names, and surprisingly tacked CMW on after Austin, but it did even one score between it and its superior Toronto summer festival, NXNE: the weather. Instead of its usual freezing rain, the festival coincided with unseasonable summer-like weather that allowed for more NXNE-style daytime events (typically our favourite part of any festival). Audio Blood Media’s Thursday party, for instance, screamed NXNE, taking place as it did on a Chinatown rooftop, with free cold beer, Sneaky Dee’s nachos and the “Jagerettes” handing out branded underwear. Okay, that last bit was a bit strange. – Richard Trapunski

Bands should use props more often

In a sea of indie bands who often just stand there and play, it was refreshing to see a little theatrics at CMW. We projected there would be blood on stage for gothic punk-metal band Dentata at our Comfort Zone showcase Saturday, but we didn’t expect this kind of blood. When frontwoman lifted her skirt to reveal her stained underpants, then from somewhere pulled out a bloody tampon AND put it in her mouth – the audience was in shock, awe and delight. Luckily it was fake blood – at least that’s what we’re hoping. You might want to double check the Untold City’s footage.  Truthfully though, this kind of stunt might be relegated to the punk and metal world. (Dentata’s new lineup certainly beefs up the metal content with their flawless cover of Metallica’s “Jump in the Fire”.) – Marsha Casselman

Toronto likes metal, so where’s it at?

Okay, we get it. Toronto is an indie rock/electronic/Drake-centric city. At least, that’s what the Toronto press would have you believe. The amazing crowd at the CMW Metalliance Showcase would have disagreed with you entirely. Featuring a stellar bill of heavy metal artists including Dying Fetus, Job for a Cowboy, DevilDriver (and more!), the Metalliance showcase was sparsely attended by media and CMW staff. An utter shock, I can assure you, given the fact that the show was one of my most exciting festival experiences. The love and loyalty Toronto displays to heavy metal is without par. Vancouver’s ‘3 Inches of Blood‘ were the only Canadian heavy metallurgists to appear on the bill (considering the impressive body of heavy metal to come out of Canada recently, this is in itself a shock. I would have liked to have seen Calgary’sMares of Thrace on the bill) . 3 Inches of Blood is touring in promotion of their hot-off-the-press NWOBHM-inspired release Long Live Heavy Metal, which is a fine sentiment for a showcase that saw little to no attention from the festival itself, but a truly inspiring turnout from Toronto metalheads who moshed and headbanged up a storm in support. (though the moshers got their share of pushing and shoving in. One kind gentleman gave me a rather unpleasant shot to the sternum in his attempts to start a one-man moshpit). Given the fact that the Opera House was packed to the gills, I can only hope that CMW hears the call and offers more (and better promoted) Canadian metal next year. – Chris Wright

Wil McCarley

I’m Wil McCarley, a photoStacy2grapher based in Amarillo Texas specializing in commercial photography and portraits.

Every photograph I take is the result of many years learning and gaining experience in bringing out the best in someone or something. A photograph is not just a piece of paper, it’s a moment frozen in time that is priceless. I believe your photographic images should capture that essence which is truly you. There’s only one person in this world like you. You have your own unique look, personality, taste and style.  Capturing that essence takes artistry, preparation, and time. I take the time to see the things that make you special, and create images that reflect your spirit. 

Mares of Thrace The Pilgrimage

Album Review: Mares of Thrace “The Pilgrimage” is the most evil thing

Tearing out of the gate with all the fury and ferocity of their fire-breathing, flesh-eating namesakes, Calgary doom-noise duo (and newest members of Sonic Unyon Metal) Mares of Thrace have unleashed the follow-up to their critically-acclaimed 2010 debut The Moulting. Titled The Pilgrimage and broken into three acts thematically tied to the biblical story of King David and his seduction of Bathsheba, this record is without a doubt one of the most evil things I have ever had the privilege to listen to.

Seriously. It’s this and Reign in Blood.

The duo’s sound has been refined quite a bit since The Moulting. The former bassist in Juno-winning metallers KEN Mode, Thérèse Lanz’s uses a super-modded baritone guitar (complete with a bass pickup designed by Converge’s Kurt Ballou). It’s an instrument capable of sounding crushing, crunchy and perfectly melodic all within the same song. Stefani MacKichon’s pounding, jazz-trained drum attack also demands some serious kudos, but Mares of Thrace have axed some of the more experimental breakdowns that could be found on The Moulting in favour of a more consistent assault on the eardrums. Lanz’s vocals are perfect for the kind of rabid-animal sound the band’s music creates, and she shifts effortlessly between her hardcore-influenced screams and a damn impressive death growl.

The Gallwasp by Mares of Thrace

Tracks like The Gallwasp really define what makes Mares of Thrace such a pleasure. It begins with a slow, lurching riff that violently gives way to MacKichon’s relentless pounding of the drum and Lanz’s horrific shrieks and roars. This is strongly-flavoured extreme metal and it tastes so good (though I suspect if Mares of Thrace were a beverage, it would be a rather noxious flesh and blood puree).

The duo still find opportunities to play with their sound – a too-rare thing in modern heavy metal. The centrepiece of Act III’s The Three-Legged Courtesanis a thoroughly sinister-sounding riff that reminds me of the kind of void-evoking doom metal that Pallbearer recently mastered so perfectly. Make no mistake though, Mares of Thrace are all about throwing you into the fire, and there’s no shortage of wailing and gnashing of teeth on The Pilgrimage.

If you’ve read our coverage, you might remember my bellyaching about the lack of attention paid to metal in the Canadian music industry. The Pilgrimage could potentially do everything to change that. This album is all venom, fury and fire. Let’s hope it peaks the interest of the metalheads on the Polaris Prize jury this year.

Dentata’s got bite


Dentata’s got bite3 a.m. is no time to begin writing. But Canadian Music Week has had me up all night, bouncing from one sweaty, gross venue to the next. I guess many of us will have to do the same thing today. It’ll be a tough slog. Toronto’s Dentata aremuch tougher than that. In fact, they’re the most hard-bitten thing you’re likely to hear during CMW. In what seems to be a nebulous mix of indie rock bands and singer-songwriters (and I must stress I love seeing these artists as well), Dentata are mean, scary, and rough.

Their sound reminds me of the earliest of Hole records, back when Courtney Love had Kurt Cobain writing her songs and she still seemed to possess an ounce or two of credibility. They play a thick, heavy version of gothic punk that demanded I follow them up with a serving of Black Sabbath and Black Flag.

Dentata have been making the rounds in the Toronto scene for a while now. We covered them back in 2011 as one of our bands to watch. Since then they’ve gone through a line-up change (their drummer left the band this year) and they’re hard at work on an EP. What you really need to know is that that this kind of blistering punk is rare these days, and Dentata are making a great brand of raw, aggressive music.

They attracted the attention of filmmaker Richard Kern, who’s work with artists like Henry Rollins and Sonic Youth makes Dentata seem like a natural fit. The video for Earwig (above) was released earlier this year, and makes the most of the band’s sex appeal (Ha. As if Kern is interested in doing anything else).  Yeah, Dentata are a pretty sexy band, but there’s a great sound behind their image, and their music is what makes Dentata so intense on stage.

Seriously. If nothing else, they have a great name.