Carol McNiven Young, ‘Creative Studio Portraiture”

13 January ZOOM LECTURE: ‘Creative Studio Portraiture’ – with CAROL McNIVEN YOUNG FRPS EFIAP/b BPE5* DPAGB.

If collecting flamboyant costumes, working with models and creating fantastical scenes is your kind of photography you’ll have enjoyed last Friday’s Ilkley Camera club meeting (13 Jan). A well received talk was given by Carol McNiven Young who’s a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, lecturer and judge. Her award winning images include models in costumes placed in historical or imagined scenes.

Carol’s background is in brand advertising and her three main themes where about working with models and lighting them, composing multiple images into one photo, and finally adding magic.

In a talk packed with technical and creative advice she started by sharing her addiction for creative photography and for collecting interesting costumes, “our house is full of stuff, it’s an absolute addiction which drives my husband mad”; although her husband, she explained, has been a very supportive partner offing useful feedback on her work.

She explained that creative photography starts with a good idea and an emotional connection, “the results are so much better if you can covey an emotion”. Carol talked about her methods of coming up with ideas which included “mind wandering”, a kind of mind-mapping or free association technique.

Once the idea has been established, her models are dressed in a way that sometimes includes a simple drape secured with clips that are erased later in photoshop. Carol explained that the lights she uses include a soft-box to create soft even lighting with gentle shadows.

In the editing the models are added to a background often from images taken by Carol on her travels – perhaps of a reception room in a stately home or a landscape. The mood of the resulting composite work is then changed to add the magic, as Carol puts it. One of the most talked about techniques involves creating an 80% transparent black layer in photoshop and then selectively blending back the light with a brush.

If you would like to see some of Carol’s work please visit her website

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